A battered but forever optimistic real estate sector is back in business from June 1.
Open-house showdays may, however, be a thing of the past as the industry grapples with how to move forward beyond Covid-19.
Welcoming the reopening in Level 3 instead of the proposed Level 2, Vuyiswa Mutshekwane, head of the newly formed National Property Professionals Council, says it will provide much-needed liquidity into the market.
Property owners can now sell their assets to unlock capital to fund business activities or, given the challenging economic climate, some homeowners can look at downscaling to more affordable properties.
“A return to work for real estate will also be positive for many downstream activities and sub-sectors linked to real estate such as removal companies and artisans including electricians and plumbers and valuers,” she says.
Industry leaders and all associations under the NPPC put up the fight of their lives to get the sector reopened in Level 4 as opposed to the proposed reopening in Level 2. The shutdown in Level 4 and 5 all but strangled the sector.
The way business is done going forward is likely to change somewhat, with many in the industry cautioning against open-day showhouses in the future. At this stage it is still unsure whether potential buyers can be taken to view properties in Level 3.
Mike Greeff, ceo of Greeff Christies International Real Estate says their agents are excited to “get back at it” and, like all other agencies, have already put Government- issued protocols in place to ensure the safety of clients and agents. He says social distancing, however, will be mandatory when moving forward with client interaction.
Bill Rawson, chairman of the Rawson Property Group, says the reopening is good news for the country but added the economic effect of this shutdown will “take months if not years to play out. “In many ways it could force us all to look for new ways in which to serve each other and thereby earn a living.”
Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive of Re/Max of Southern Africa, another of the industry leaders to implore the government to reopen property services says: “We need to make sure we capitalise on this opportunity safely. There is still much to do. We are only at the start line now of a long recovery ahead.”
Another strong lobbyist, MD of the Rawson Property Group, Tony Clarke, says the discussions with governing bodies are far from over. “Our goal is to have the industry formally reclassified as a Level 4 service to ensure vital continuity should hotspot flare-ups cause a return to stricter lockdowns.”
Under Level 4 and 5 shutdown the industry was strangled, and the NPPC says to this end “we are in discussions with the Estate Agency Affairs Board, the Department of Human Settlements and other industry stakeholders proposing measures to stimulate the industry going forward.”