Tiger Estates MD: The property world may look very different when this is over
In an exclusive article for The Parliamentary Review, Tiger Estates Managing Director, Craig Webster, discusses the challenges his business has faced in the current climate and ponders what the property sector may look like when the social distancing measures are lifted.
The Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges to face this generation and with it comes brutality, hardship, difficulties, financial pressures but also opportunities.
The property industry and in particular the Estate Agency industry is likely to be, and already is, one of the hardest hit industries as a result of social distancing measures directly impacting on the ability for most Estate Agents to operate and function in the normal manner.
The property market has effectively been closed for business, with viewings of properties unable to take place, new instructions not coming to the market, agreed sales being queued and unable to complete, and enquiries into the business becoming nothing more than a trickle.
This has lead to many redundancies already within the industry and, of those not made redundant, a high percentage being furloughed as the industry is unable to generate the work to retain staff. Quite simply, the revenue streams have been frozen over with only those essential moves occurring and generating any income. Undoubtedly there will be casualties within the property sector with many companies being forced into closure or administration.
However, there is also real opportunity for those forward-thinking proactive companies in reviewing working practices and finally realising the technology available to move the industry forward, such as increasing working from home, video viewings, video valuations and an increase in video conferencing to still provide that personal service which means so much.
Tiger Sales & Lettings finds itself in a more fortunate position than others, with a strong property lettings and management portfolio accounting for 70% of annual turnover and while rents keep flowing in, the business still retains a strong revenue stream. That being said, as a company we still had to furlough 85% of our workforce as a result of the loss of sales income and also, lack of business activity.
However, in anticipation of the Coronavirus becoming worst, plans were made several weeks before the official lockdown with staff trialling working from home for the first time and resource plans made so that we knew what our working from home team would require from us, such as telephones, computers, printing facilities and remote access to office computers.
Although brutal, as soon as the Prime Minister announced a lockdown, our contingency plans were actioned immediately, with those staff who were to be furloughed advised that night that the plan had been actioned and those that were designated in the plans to work from home to commence the next business day as we had planned.
The primary objective of the team tasked with working from home was to communicate with clients across all of our departments, to keep them calm and provide any relevant information that we could to help them and to keep revenue streams open such as rents flowing into the company and sales completed where possible.
We have increased our communication through social media, providing information through live videos and Q & A sessions, which have been open to anyone and not just clients of the company, we have also, provided regular email updates to both buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants with regards to government advice and information that we felt would be useful to them.
The world will be a different place when normality resumes and perhaps there will not be as many high street Estate Agency offices, with a preference for working from home or from a centralised hub environment.
Perhaps there will be a reduction in the amount of people employed in the industry and companies will review all costs with more scrutiny. There may be an increase in more self employed Estate Agents / property professionals, the general public will buy and sell property in a different manner where video viewings, video valuations and video conference meetings with your Estate Agent become more normal, the industry will be more streamlined and more customer focussed but with a greater importance on remote technology.
I hope that our forward planning and structure of the business, saves any redundancies being made and ensures the security of employment and the stability of the business