By Lochore’s guest blog writer Chris Gemmell
I’m writing this blog on day 14 of lockdown – midway point. The good news is that the number of coronavirus cases seems to be stabilising and on a downward track. Maybe the curve is finally being flattened – let’s hope so, given the sacrifices we are all making together.
In the time leading up to stage 4 alert and during lockdown, I’ve been personally very encouraged by the strength of our real estate sales team, the way we’ve all rolled up our sleeves and simply got on with it. It’s good to know that you and your colleagues can step up to the mark and continue to provide good service – even in the midst of a pandemic.
Once we were all set up in our home offices, our focus has been to work with existing buyers and sellers who had agreements already in place for unconditional sales prior to lockdown. Our priority at Lochore’s has been to renegotiate their settlement dates to ensure their agreements remain secure.
The solicitors we have been dealing with to renegotiate settlement dates have all been courteous and cooperative about negotiating a sensible pathway after lockdown for our buyers and sellers. It will be a busy time for removalists, agents and clients. A number of settlements will be 10 working days following the end of Alert 4 status to allow for pre-settlement inspections and time for banks and solicitors to mobilise.
We are continuing to field calls from a number of our longstanding clients as well as prospective sellers who are curious about which price range their home or rental property may fit within. A virtual property appraisal will provide information for them in these uncertain times and it is a free service. With an intimate knowledge of the North Shore and with three comprehensive databases to draw information from, our agents have been busy completing online property evaluations. Owners are supplying photos of their interiors and in some cases video, plus a good description of the layout, condition and so on. Clearly, once lockdown ceases internal inspections can be arranged and assessments refined if required.
The power of online is incredible. We are able to provide virtual property appraisals, list new properties on the market, supply information sourced from the owners and council to interested parties, then assist buyers to complete sale & purchase agreements online if they wish to step forward and make an offer. Negotiations can be conducted and conditions placed in contracts to allow inspections post-lockdown.
Our sales team have listed properties during lockdown for those owners who are seizing the opportunity where there is strong buyer demand, particularly for properties that offer something different and where they are keen to achieve a quick sale. So even under lockdown, there are real estate opportunities for those who are well prepared. In some cases we’re able to offer virtual tours. We can also arrange virtual auctions – from the auctioneer’s home lounge.
The advantage for buyers is that they have a window right now during lockdown to potentially to buy a house or a rental property for a competitive price in an Auckland real estate market in which there are fewer buyers than there will be after lockdown finishes.
Vast numbers of people have been forced to work online from home. When we emerge from lockdown, the way we work will substantially change. If more people work from home in a big city like Auckland, there will be less commuting, freeing up time, unclogging formerly gridlocked motorways. And that’s got to be good, too.
We are looking forward very much to the end of lockdown, hopefully on 22nd April, all going well, and to being able to finally personally show you properties and to finalise settlements.
We wish all of our clients a relaxed and happy Easter. Even though this seasonal event will be a staycation for most of us, let’s not forget those essential workers in the health, food and pharmacy sectors, as well as government and local body staff, who will be continuing to work regardless, for the benefit of us all. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts.
In the meantime, please keep safe in your bubbles. Be safe. Be kind.
If you are thinking of selling your home and would like to discuss how we can help during this lockdown period, please get in touch.