By Cath Dickinson
Times are challenging and there’s no part of the real estate industry that’s not being impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. We spoke to Nick Viner about how buyers’ agents are faring in the face of so much uncertainty.
Turn on the TV. Tune in to the radio. Scroll through the news on your phone or tablet. All day and all night, the news is focused on one thing. Coronavirus.
As concerning as the global pandemic is for all of us on a personal level, real estate businesses across the country are facing a fight for survival.
“We’ve been taking each day as it comes,” Nick Viner, Principal at Buyer’s Domain and Chair of the REINSW Buyers’ Agents Chapter Committee, said. “Unfortunately, I do think it’s going to get harder for everyone before it gets better. But there are things we can do to ensure we’re best positioned to come out on the other side and offer our services to buyers when the market bounces back.”
Nick urged buyers’ agents to stay informed.
“We all need to stay up to date with the measures we need to comply with,” he said. “There are new announcements and additional restrictions being put in place almost every day. You need to understand what it all means for you professionally as a buyers’ agent.
“Our clients are looking to us for guidance, now more than ever before. What do the limits on public gatherings mean for property inspections? How will auctions be conducted? Can property transactions be completed?
“Keeping up to date with information released by reliable sources means you can give your clients the facts and position yourself as a trusted advisor in these uncertain times.”
According to Nick, uncertainty is one of the biggest challenges that buyers’ agents are facing, but continuous communication can help allay some of this uncertainty.
“We’ve already had existing clients come to us saying ‘now isn’t the time to buy, we’re going to hold off’,” he said. “But even though they’ve stepped back, we’re committed to keeping them informed. If a property comes up that’s suitable, we’ll certainly let them know.
“Then there are those buyers that see the current climate as an opportunity. We’ve received new enquiries from investors looking for suitable properties. So, we’re definitely still carrying out our property searches – even though it’s becoming harder and harder to inspect properties.”
Also critical for buyers’ agents is staying in touch with selling agents.
“At Buyer’s Domain, we’ve seen a definite increase in selling agents reaching out to see if we have interested buyers,” Nick said. “As more and more restrictions are put in place, selling agents are looking to close deals quickly and buyers’ agents are the best source of qualified buyers.
“At some point, the tide will turn – whether that’s in three, six or 12 months. To best position ourselves for that time, we need to be effectively communicating with both our buyers and selling agents now.”
Unfortunately, the restrictions put in place by the government regarding open home inspections have adversely impacted buyers’ agents.
“I’ll be honest, the restrictions are hurting the industry,” Nick said. “There are sellers who don’t want people walking through their home. There are also tenants who are saying ‘no’ to inspections.
“It’s understandable, but it also means that the inspections we’re doing have slowed right down. However, there are still inspections going ahead. As buyers’ agents, we need to stay in contact with selling agents and clients about how we can still make this happen if the right circumstances present themselves.”
Putting aside the problems associated with doing a physical inspection, Nick emphasised that property can still be transacted and buyers’ agents are best placed to help buyers move forward with a property purchase.
“You may have a buyer who inspected a property a couple of weeks ago and is now keen to purchase, or an investor may be willing to buy, sight unseen,” he said. “You need to explain to them that the transaction can go ahead. Everything can be done remotely and online – from exchanging contracts to final settlement.
“The tools we have access to today put us in a strong position and mean our industry does not have to shut down. Emphasise to your clients that you’re still open for business and the real estate industry is still operating.”
On a final note, Nick encouraged everyone in the industry to be kind to one another.
“We’re all going to suffer to varying degrees,” he said. “But now’s the time when we need to come together as an industry.
“Let’s help each other out where we can.”