The New Normal

15 May 2020, Lynette McFadden

The New Normal

Level 3 of our national lockdown has provided me with the opportunity for a 360-degree perspective on the challenges, insights and opportunities that exist in the real estate market. I’ve called it a process because a process it is, and the main participants all have different challenges getting through it.

Owners/vendors – ‘Let’s wait’. Firstly, pushing through that desire to wait till the clouds lift, the sun shines and the world changes is a challenge. Waiting has its champions, but the issue is that it could take a long, long time to get back to ‘normal’ and the market could easily drop within that period. Every option requires care and thought and must be counterbalanced against the opportunity for certainty. For some – and I’m usually in this group – certainty gives me peace of mind and the chance to plan ahead. And planning is critical in all of this.

Once an owner decides to proceed, it looks like this. Your consultant can show your property with a maximum of two viewings a day. And there are no open homes. For homes that, previously, might have expected a strong response and large numbers of viewings, this can be prohibitive. There are restrictions on who can inspect at any one time: a limited number of people, all from the same bubble; no children; no one with compromised health; no touching of anything; shoes off; and social distancing and sanitization processes always followed. It’s a list that requires more time and space to discuss than this column allows, but with a will there is a way and sales are occurring despite all of this. I truly believe the resilience built-up during the Canterbury earthquakes has helped all of us with the ability to methodically address challenges, and I notice this constantly within our own business in this part of the real estate process.

Buyers – ‘Show me the bargains’. In Level 3, buyers looking for solutions due to selling before the lockdown are active, and they will continue to be, but there are others biding their time, anticipating bargains to come. When compared nationally, however, the prices in Christchurch are amongst the most affordable in New Zealand. That means, apart from some vendors and their specific circumstances, a massive downward shift could be unlikely. The expectation of wholesale bargains as the rationale for a buyer deciding to wait might keep them waiting till a scarcity of available property actually pushes prices upwards!

Agents – I made a comment about this last month and my feelings haven’t changed. The best will be busy – who doesn’t want the best in a changing world. What constitutes ‘the best’? Fantastic communication and systems for contacting their clients and engaging buyers. Active databases and social media connections, world-class negotiation skills, empathy and a work ethic that shows nothing is too much trouble. Find this (you can find it in newbies to the industry as well as in long-tenured industry stewards) and you are onto a winner.

Finally, the last part of my 360-degree view: my personal thoughts. It’s been one of the hardest times to be a business owner, the best time to be a family member, and the only time I hope ever to do this!

Take care and kind wishes.