COVID-19 has uprooted nearly every aspect of life, including how people live and work, and how companies and customers interact with each other.
While the complete fallout of the pandemic is still unknown, it is safe to say that it has (and will continue to) fundamentally change the way we all do business over the next few years.
When it comes to property management, we are seeing trends in workflow efficiency, online financial management, tenant communications and rent negotiations. We chatted to some of our agent partners to find out how these trends will evolve, and what predictions they have for 2021 (and beyond)…
Emma Slape – Chief Executive Officer, Turner Real Estate
- What has been the biggest learning of 2020? An important learning has been how quickly people can pivot and react positively to substantial change. Overnight, business practices changed significantly, and our team embraced this, worked together and solved some pretty tricky situations. I think that 2020 has also reminded us all how fragile we can be and how quickly our lives can change. We’ve witnessed incredible generosity from some people and also helped people through some really dark days.
- How do you see the real estate market changing in 2021? Different pockets are reacting differently as what is important to people has rapidly changed during 2020. More space at home and lower density living is being valued very highly, whereas the smaller units and higher density living has dropped in demand, for both rentals and sales.
- What is your property management NYE resolution? Keep talking to clients to know what is important to them in property management. It’s a rapidly changing environment, but we can’t lose the personal touch.
Brett Wheatland – General Manager, Renting Adelaide Property Management
- What has been the biggest learning of 2020? Critical thinking in business has never been more important, and information technology IS as good as the hype we have given it. Our economy is more vulnerable than we think, and it takes years to re-build what can be undone in just hours/days. We need to be smarter as a community and be more independent with our resources and supply chains to minimise our exposure to the global economy and dependence on the resources of other countries – we have all we need on our soil. Entire industries can be completely disrupted at the drop of a hat, and we are certainly not immune.
- How do you see the real estate market changing in 2021? Commercial real estate must adapt fast, Residential will continue to thrive on the basis that we may need more space at home as we move away from the demand for vast spaces previously needed to run big business (and small).
- What is your property management NYE resolution? To continue to evolve, adapt, plan and search for solutions for those vast gaps in our industry that we need to fill for our future to be prosperous.
Amber Roberts – National General Manager, Ray White Property Management (Surfers Paradise)
- What has been the biggest learning of 2020? COVID was the biggest crisis to happen to the property management industry in all my time in real estate. My biggest learning in 2020 was that our world is unpredictable and we have to be prepared to act swiftly and keep calm under extreme pressure. However, if you have a plan and support your team, you will come through even the worst of times.
- How do you see the real estate market changing in 2021? Given that we have fared a lot better than other states such as New South Wales and Victoria, I am already seeing more and more people relocating to Queensland for a better lifestyle. The feedback is that people are now being able to work remotely so they don't have to be tied to a particular location. This will then see the supply and demand change. We are already experiencing unprecedented numbers of enquiry and I can see that this will only increase into next year.
- What is your property management NYE resolution? Growth. We are the number one Ray White Property Management business and I would like to see us grow by another 1,000 managements in the next 12 months.
Todd George – Business Development Manager, Belle Property Richmond
- What was the biggest learning of 2020? COVID-19 has been the biggest learning for me in 2020 as I have never experienced anything so big in my 10 years in real estate that has required such rapid change to how we lease, manage property and adapt to working remotely. There definitely have been some positives to come from how real estate agents do business, as well as how prospective tenants go about inspecting and applying for property with virtual inspections, 3D tours and one-on-one inspections.
- How do you see the real estate market changing in 2021? I foresee the real estate market remaining more online with virtual inspections and 3D tours continuing in 2021. The convenience for tenants being able to inspect property virtually has been a gamechanger for the industry.
- What is your property management NYE resolution? Breathe and always remember to take time out for myself and the things that I enjoy outside of work. We are only human after all and should enjoy the benefits of a healthy work life balance.
Anna Koch – Director of Property Management, Ray White
- What has been the biggest learning of 2020? I think, like most agents, adapting to the rapid changes through COVID-19 has been our biggest challenge this year. From increasing and improving methods of communication between tenants, landlords and tradespeople, to adapting everything we do to model a remote work environment, all while trying to provide the same (or if not better) service to our clients. It sure has presented challenges we never thought we would see in our industry. Some of these changes have been to our benefit and we have continued to maintain these practices after lockdown.
- How do you see the real estate market changing in 2021? I have experienced the tightest rental market in the last six months than I have ever in my property management career. I can't see much changing going into 2021 due to low vacancy rates and lack of stock. We are leasing most of our rental properties off market, with 62 per cent of our properties in October leased without the need for marketing, and 40 per cent being leased off market for the two months prior. The few properties being released to the marketplace are receiving increased number of enquiries and many applications. This is resulting in many being leased over the advertised price. I am predicting this trend to continue in the New Year with consistent demand.
- What is your property management NYE resolution? We really did see good growth within our business throughout 2020 despite the impacts of COVID-19 and we are hoping to see that continue in 2021. We will continue to improve and adapt the way in which we conduct business to ensure we are providing the best experience to our clients.
Cameron Garry – Managing Director (Commercial Sales and Leading), City Realty
- What has been the biggest learning of 2020? A confirmation more than a learning, but in the event of a national crises, the old adage that ‘at the end of the day, we all just need a roof over our head’ rang very true. The impact of COVID-19 on residential property versus commercial property has been very different in 2020. The key reason, I believe, is because as hard as employers and employees work – family always comes first and the roof above your head at night is more important than the roof above your head at work.
- How do you see the real estate market changing in 2021? I believe house prices and rents will both climb in low density or high value areas and continue to struggle in other areas such as the Adelaide CBD or areas with high levels of new supply. ‘Location, Location Location!’ is the popular saying, but perhaps 2021 also needs ‘Timing, Timing, Timing!’ added on the end! It could be a great year, but an unpredictable one.
- What is your property management NYE resolution? Mine is to help our team work on innovation as a collective group (rather than lead from the top), so that the role of a property manager continues to evolve and stay ahead of the DIY landscape.
Amanda Jones – Head of Property Management, Metro Realty
- What has been the biggest learning of 2020? 2020 has been one of the most challenging years to be a property manager. However, in a way, it has also been one of the most rewarding! We have witnessed society coming together to support one another through a tough time, so to see that people still have that good Aussie spirit has been special! For me, the biggest learning has been to take a step back from the daily grind and remember we are all human and connected and that has made my job even more rewarding!
- How do you see the real estate market changing in 2021? I think the first half of 2021 will still be a bit up and down, with longer periods of vacancy and lower rents as we have seen throughout 2020. Hopefully by the second half of the year, things will have stabilised more! It's really good to see landlords being realistic in this market which helps rentals to move quickly and avoid a glut of properties to lease in a condensed area! Being based in Sydney CBD, we have been impacted by not having students or tourism coming to Australia, so we are looking forward to the economy opening back up and getting on with it!
- What is your property management NYE resolution? To get all my routine inspections up to date (2020 ruined my schedule) and also remember to not take it all so seriously when things are back to 'normal' and we've mentally blocked out what 2020 did to us!
Jason Wright – Operations Manager, Essential Property Management
- What has been the biggest learning of 2020? Proactive communication is still the most important part of property management. Owners and tenants have craved it during this time.
- How do you see the real estate market changing in 2021? To stand out in property management in 2021, virtual tours and wide-angle photography MUST become a minimum standard.
- What is your property management NYE resolution? Do it my way. In our 11 years in business, Essential Property Management has always tried to be different and 2020 has proven that owners are as frustrated by ‘the way it’s always been done’ as ever before. I will continue to ensure we are at the forefront of the industry in everything we do.
*While we have taken care to ensure the information above is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances and legislation after the displayed date may impact the accuracy of this article. If you need us we are there, contact 1800 661 662 if you have any questions.
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