Even though show days and private home viewings were still not possible during the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown, home buying did not completely come to a halt and estate agents turned to technology to keep the market ticking over.
Dr Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding Property group, says that general sales enquiries are back to pre-lockdown levels and transactions are continuing in the virtual space.
Although Covid-19 and the ongoing lockdown have had a significant impact on the housing market, we are finding that the rapid adoption of new technology and ramp-up of digital capabilities are delivering results and enabling the groundwork to be laid for the final conclusion of transactions.
"These are expected to take place soon now that the deeds offices around the country are permitted to open, conveyancers may carry out transfers, and estate agencies are allowed to work under Alert Level 3 regulations,” says Golding.
More online traffic
One reason for the continued activity, says Berry Everitt, chief executive of the Chas Everitt International property group, is that prospective buyers who are at home during the lockdown are spending more time browsing property portals and websites for new homes.
“According to international property analyst, Mike DelPrete, South African property portals and others around the world have experienced a recovery in the amount of traffic on their sites following an initial drop of up to 40% in mid-March.
“Many home owners are realising that their existing homes are too small for their families, others want to downsize to reduce maintenance and municipal charges, and some tenants have decided they no longer want to rent. In addition, the most astute property investors are already moving to maximise the opportunities the current market presents,” says Everitt.
This is good news if you are thinking of selling your home.
During good times and bad, people all over the world still need roofs over their heads, which means they need to be able to keep selling, buying and renting property.
To enable the continuation of these services as seamlessly as possible during the Covid-19 lockdown period, innovative estate agencies have started offering a range of high-tech services including virtual tours, virtual show houses, electronically signed documentation and online meetings.
Tony Clarke, managing director of the Rawson Property Group, says these virtual services are important stopgaps while social distancing is required by the lockdown. However, he believes they will form part of a much larger service strategy in future.
It’s going to be some time before any of us will feel comfortable having dozens of strangers visiting our homes. We believe that enabling buyers to do virtual property tours could also become a major service differentiator in future.
From the sellers’ perspective, virtual tours and virtual show houses minimise the number of times they need to prepare and vacate their homes for show days, removing one of the most common irritants of selling your home.
For buyers, live, interactive virtual tours are a huge time-saver in narrowing down their property searches. They also make it far easier to buy a home from a distance, such as when moving to a different town or buying an investment property.
For buyers and sellers, online meetings and electronic signatures can facilitate home sales negotiations without breaching social distancing regulations.
Tips for selling your home
If you are keen to sell your home, you should take care to ensure that your property stands out by being competitively priced and attractively presented from the outset.
Don’t be tempted to set the price too high, with the intention of reducing it at a later stage. This will undermine your property’s standing among buyers and will negatively affect the price at which you actually sell your home. Also bear in mind that the more downward adjustments needed to bring the price into line with what buyers are prepared to pay, the longer your property will take to sell.
With online house-viewing currently the preferred way of showing your home to buyers, it is essential to stage and photograph your property effectively. Excessive clutter or personal paraphernalia will generally prompt potential buyers to click away from a listing. Before being photographed, make sure your home is clean and neat, with no bits and pieces lying around.
The right light can make a property look bigger and more attractive, and bright photos also look crisper, which emphasises quality. If possible, only take photographs on a clear, bright day and at a time when natural light is at its best. If necessary, leave the lights on, even in broad daylight, especially if you have small rooms and dark nooks and crannies.
With estate agencies allowed to return to work in Alert Level 3, the time is ripe to consider selling your home.