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Will real estate open in Level 3?

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On Sunday night President Cyril Ramaphosa moved the country to Level 3 lockdown from June 1, and real estate is cautiously optimistic the industry will also be reopened on that date. By Vivian Warby

While he did not specifically mention real estate, “it seems promising we may be able to return to work,” says the industry.

This week the National Coronavirus Command Council will elaborate on which industries will be reopened at Level 3.

MD of the Rawson Property Group, Tony Clarke says we will have to wait until then but “the tone sounds very positive”.

Adrian Goslett, CEO and regional director of RE/Max Southern Africa, says unless the NCCC does a U-turn it could mean the industry is back in business on June 1.

Earlier he had been one of the industry leaders to implore government to reopen property services saying lockdown would have a knock-on effect on the property market “long after the lockdown is lifted”.

If real estate opens in Level  3, this will mean a busy week ahead for the industry to prepare offices and work out safety protocols.

In an open letter to government a week ago Clarke was one of the industry leaders to assure government “the Property Industry has the ability, and the Statutory bodies to ensure that operations can commence with great care to the safety of our agents as well as the community of people urgently requiring our service to liquidate and/or monetise their property assets by being able to trade”.

The new National Property Practitioners Council, led by Vuyiswa Mutshekwane, has been lobbying government non-stop on behalf of industry to reopen real estate for business. She vowed not to stop until the industry was reopened.

The NPPC said the real estate industry, which employs over 40 000 people, accounts for up to 6 percent of the country’s GDP and its closure had a knock-on effect on not only other industries but also homeowners, buyers, sellers and renters.

In a letter CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty Yael Geffen said:  “For an industry that is almost entirely commission-based it’s now a crisis. Even if estate agents secure sales on the first day post-lockdown, it’s likely to be at least another two months before they receive any commission from the transactions.”

The president however urged individuals to be cautious as the economy reopens, saying the ball was in their court as to how this virus plays out further down the road.

He warned the opening of the economy would come with a rise in infections. “Things will get worse before they get better,” he said.

He further urged industries that were reopening to take every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of their staff, and those who could work from home, to do so.

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