Despite the challenges faced by the real estate industry last year, a new survey by Lightstone Property has revealed that 14% of buyers bought their homes without visiting the property first - nearly double the normal rate from previous years
Hayley Ivins-Downes, head of Commercial at Lightstone Property, says the pandemic and associated lockdowns forced estate agents to accelerate the digitisation of services, which impacted a range of activity, from networking to viewing properties.
Estate agents launched video tours, online “watch parties” and virtual tours to enable house-buyers to get a feel for the properties. A trend that has seen an increase not just locally but internationally as well, where virtual tours are now being used from everything from showing luxury properties to foreign buyers and doing apartment tours for prospective tenants.
Companies like Entegral saw the need for virtual tours early on and launched live guided virtual tours, allowing agents to not only upload virtual tours but to guide prospective buyers through the virtual tour in real-time like they would on a normal show day.
"Live guided tours have been a game-changer for many agents. An agent's most valuable asset is their time, and live guided tours have enabled agents to not only conduct more viewings in a day but ensure the safety of buyers and sellers during the pandemic", says Entegral CEO, Adriaan Grove.
However, the survey has also revealed that fewer sales and the digitisation of operations had a negative effect on staff numbers and 25% of agencies said they had to retrench employees. Estate agents were hard hit on a personal level with 68% saying their personal finances were directly impacted.
Lightstone Property’s survey of 500 estate agents found that 51% of estate agents met their sales targets in 2020, down from 69% in 2019. But 81% believed they would meet their sales targets this year.
Nearly 26% of estate agents said their companies had already recovered from the pandemic, just more than half of the respondents (51.4%) believed their company should recover in 2021, while nearly 23% said recovery would take longer, if ever.
Almost 60% of estate agents believe sellers will have to accept reduced prices if they are to succeed in moving their properties.
However, it is not all bad news as 18% of responding agents said they were busier than before while 7% said properties were selling well due to the ‘buyer’s market bargains’ available. This buyer’s market is expected to continue this year and 59% of estate agents believe sellers will have to accept reduced prices if they are to succeed in moving their properties.
“Though there is no doubt that Covid-19 had a challenging impact on real estate agents, the majority of those in the industry has maintained a positive outlook for the year ahead. 2021 will bring challenges, but the advances and adaptions to the digital environments and tools alongside this sense of optimism, will ease the journey ahead” Ivin-Downes concludes.
*Article sourced from My Property*