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How COVID-19 is affecting agents around the globe

Tuesday 21 April 2020

There is one crisis that is affecting all agents but are all countries feeling the same strain and adhering to the identical parameters when it comes to renting and selling property?

In a recent Propertymark webinar where Jim Kinney, Global Ambassador for the US National Realtors Association (NAR) and Pat Davitt, CEO of Ireland’s Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV) joined NAEA Propertymark’s Chief Executive, Mark Hayward to look at and discuss how the pandemic is affecting agents in their respective countries, just six weeks after they met in person at the NAEA Propertymark National Conference

Market comparisons

All three countries appeared to be enjoying a good financial first quarter before the pandemic but, understandably, are now seeing significant reductions in business – transactions are reportedly down some 43-70 per cent year on year in the US. Agents in all three countries have noticed that, while the pipeline is moving, it is moving slowly, even as agents push to close deals already in progress.

Working during lockdown

This area has the most difference between the three countries. Much of agents’ day-to-day business is being picked up online, with all agents being creative to find solutions to the challenges posed by current restrictions. However, UK agents are more locked-down than both their Irish and American counterparts, with no physical viewings or valuations permitted.

Government guidance

US property agents are considered essential workers and may continue with property visits – with several safety measures in place. However, individual states have imposed their own lockdown rules, for example, buildings may only allow residents to enter, which prevents viewings from taking place in other ways. American property agents are also less likely to work from a brick-and-mortar office and may, therefore, be better placed to adapt to remote working arrangements.

In Ireland, viewings may go ahead in limited circumstances, for example, if they prevent someone from becoming homeless, or are finding accommodation for a key worker. There are strict hygiene and social distancing measures in place throughout though.

A sense of business as usual

It is uncertain how long the restrictions will last, regardless of an agent’s location. There is, however, plenty of things agents can do during the lockdown and with a reduced staff:

  • Communicate with people, pick up the phone and let your clients know they are being looked after
  • Establish a routine, which will help to normalise the situation and give focus
  • Encourage any training that can be done whilst employees are either on reduced hours or furloughed. Adopting the Propertymark Sales Protocol Toolkit and training agents is one area that will help them hit the ground running when the lockdown is over
  • Reviewing business procedures and seeing what could be streamlined or enhanced

PROPERTYMARK RESOURCES

Propertymark’s webinar series is responding to the COVID-19 crisis, covering the issues that matter most to property professionals. Webinars are added frequently, and recordings are also available to view.

Three Nations, One Crisis webinar   View all webinars