How To Support Homebuyers During Lockdown 3.0

Following the government’s decision to enter into a third and hopefully final lockdown, house sales have, unfortunately, been hit hard yet again.

About our guest blogger:
Dakota Murphey has experience in property management with her portfolio of properties expanding in the South of England. Her passion for renovation and home improvement projects is shared through her writing to help educate and inspire others.

Not only are home viewings becoming more and more difficult to arrange, but also with more people now needing to stay at home to avoid infection, there are a reduced number of interested parties as well.

What’s more, for homebuyers who had agreed to purchase prior to the lockdown, there is now predicted to be significant delays to the sale process, largely thanks to surveys, contractors, conveyancing searches and more becoming difficult to organise within the government’s restrictions.

Therefore, it’s important for you – their estate agent – to support and reassure these homebuyers fully throughout this uncertain time, regardless of where they might currently be in the sales process.

So, with this in mind, we thought we’d compile a quick guide on how to do exactly that, helping you to put the homebuyer’s mind at ease prior to their date of completion.

Keep In Regular Contact

Whether your homebuyer is a first-time buyer or has bought hundreds of houses before, it’s important to keep in regular contact with them to ensure everything is still in order.

Put yourself in their shoes, for instance. They are investing hundreds of thousands of pounds into a process that you are encouraging them to follow through on.

As such, you need to keep them updated along the way and make sure any questions or queries they have are answered as quickly as possible.

Whether it be an enquiry over a survey-related matter, like how carbon-friendly the property is, or something a lot more general, like how long the entire process is likely to take, don’t allow weeks to go by without contacting them. Otherwise, they could start to fret and eventually pull out of the sale, which wouldn’t be good for either of you.

Keep COVID-Secure

If your buyer wants to revisit the property they’re interested in buying but are nervous about how COVID-secure it will be, try to put their mind at ease.

Whether it be the property they’re buying, the estate agency you work for, or the removals company you recommend, it’s important to remember that the coronavirus pandemic is at the front and centre of everyone’s minds right now.

Therefore, you need to help reassure them that each aspect of the move you involve yourself with is kept COVID-secure, to keep the risk of infection as low as possible.

Maintain Social Distancing

While on the topic of keeping viewings, surveys and some of the more physical aspects of the home move COVID-secure, maintaining social distancing is imperative.

It may be perfectly natural to want to follow the buyer around answering any questions they might have but, without sticking to the social distancing guidelines, you could end up putting both you and them at risk.

The last thing you want, after all, is for either you or them to be out of action due to infection. Therefore, it’s imperative to do all you can to avoid contact where possible; you could even simply provide them with a sanitised key to access the property themselves.

Stay Organised

As you should well know, there are a lot of hoops to jump through when it comes to moving house so keeping organised throughout is vital.

Therefore, while it may sound obvious, make sure you are doing all of the basic productivity traits to keep on top of everything.

Make lists, use a diary, write down notes, set reminders – in essence, the more you can do to stay organised, the easier the entire process will be to handle along the way, and the more at ease both your buyer and vendor will feel as a result.

Final Thoughts…

From minimising the spread of infection to ensuring home purchases go off without a hitch, there’s no denying that the coronavirus pandemic has brought with it a number of issues for estate agencies to address – especially in terms of keeping homebuyers onside.

However, by utilising the tips listed above, you can put your estate agency in the best possible position. Helping ensure that you will not only see the sale through to completion, but you will also put the mind of the buyer at ease in doing so.

Meeting the Needs of the 2021 Renter

About our guest blogger:
Based in Worthing, Lucy studied Economics, Finance and Management before turning her focus towards the property market.  She’s a specialist short/long stay holiday rentals and has written for a number of major industry blogs.

Letting services look very different to how they did a year ago. Although business continues (people still need somewhere to live, after all), tenant expectations have dramatically changed and agencies are being forced to adapt their practices to keep transactions moving.

Even when COVID-19 is under control, it’s likely that the pandemic will have irreversibly changed the face of the housing industry. Renters are looking at potential homes through a completely different lens, and faster, contact-free agent services will be the norm. Fostering good relationships between landlords, property managers and tenants will be essential for long-term stability.

So, how can letting agents stay on top of these changes and maintain the trust of their landlords? Here are our top tips for meeting the needs of renters in 2021.

Adapting to Changing Consumer Tastes

Let’s start with one of the simplest adjustments: appealing to new tenant expectations.

Reframing what’s in your portfolio

Faced with many more months of lockdowns and social distancing, tenants will be prioritising space alongside affordability. Boost interest in your listings by focusing on outdoor areas (no matter how small), nearby recreation spaces and interior layout flexibility. De-prioritise emphasis on commuter options, and encourage your clients to stage spare bedrooms and dining rooms to highlight home-office possibilities, with tips on making home workspaces feel welcoming.

Speed up applications

Nobody needs an uncertain, drawn-out application and contract procedure right now, so make your new-tenant process as transparent and efficient as possible. You’ll encourage renters to choose your agency over others and keep landlords happy by filling vacancies quickly. Boost this along using technology (more on that in a moment), and by ensuring safety inspections, cleaning and repairs are carried out as soon as the property is vacant.

Delivering Contact-Free Services

To keep deals moving, the property industry has been pushed to adopt various types of technology much more quickly.

Video walkthroughs

Video tours were previously there to give a flavour of a property, but they’re often now the only way potential tenants will see the property before committing – make sure yours don’t let you down. Software like Giraffe 360, Mattterport and iStaging make it easy to capture professional-quality virtual tour footage from a smartphone the company’s livetour gallery gives you an idea of what’s possible. There’s also an innovative offering suited to new and in-progress developments from DCTR (formerly Doctor Photo) called DCVR.

Digital contracts and eSignatures

Avoid paperwork delays by using digital contracts for tenants and contractors. It speeds up the process of getting signatures and you save yourself the hassle of dealing with physical documents and filing. Compare eSign products for the best price points and look cross-compatibility with any other software you use – this list covers some popular choices.

Building Relationships with Landlords and Tenants

Nurturing your active relationships to protect your current income is the best thing you can do if new business is slow.

Communicate with tenants and landlords

Over the last year, people have faced financial instability, job loss and changes in family circumstances, all of which could be affecting their housing. However, you won’t understand how your clients and tenants (potential or existing) are directly affected unless you ask. Like the application process, fostering transparency will help you navigate any foreseeable issues, either with new tenants or struggling existing clients. The government has excellent guidance that you can pass to landlords or tenants to help support them and build trust.

Managing rent arrears

Discuss solutions for your landlords to remain financially stable even if their tenants are struggling to pay rent due to pandemic-related issues. Rent deferment (postponing rent until it can be paid back in future instalments) is preferable to rent abatement (agreed non-payment for a set period of time), but either is better than having to maintain an empty property, especially if tenants can still cover bills and council tax.

Planning repairs and maintenance

If possible, resolve any maintenance issues that have been delayed due to social distancing measures. Tenants in comfortable properties tend to stay put, and it will prevent landlords being hit with costly repairs in one go. Landlords are allowed to carry out essential work as long as they follow the COVID-19 legislation and current public health advice.

5 Productivity Tips for Landlords and Property Managers

Managing a property portfolio can be exhausting, especially if you run several different locations.

Throw in multiple tenants, be that student housing or HMOs, you could soon find yourself swamped chasing rent, answering queries, and planning for renovations and repairs. Your housing stock must remain habitable and in good shape, and each of those tenants will have needs and requests that possibly require filtering.

About our guest blogger:
Rae Joanne is a freelance career counsellor with five years experience in the field. When she’s not working, she enjoys experimenting with coffee and playing with her kids.

As a landlord, you may have only your own properties, but a management company may have multiple landlords and multiple properties to oversee and manage effectively. Simply Business explains how you are responsible for assessing every request from a tenant and react accordingly. Productivity is key here – if you spend too much time on the wrong areas, or do not work effectively, then people's lives will be adversely affected.

In our article 20 Minutes a Day productivity Increase, we explained how not only must you find methods to be productive, but also to maintain quality and efficiency in your work patterns. How can you achieve that? By following these five handy tips.

One Thing at a Time

Do not try to do too much at once. You may well find yourself spinning plates for much of the day, but you can only positively impact one problem or task at a time. Even if the phone rings constantly for an hour, once you get time to be productive you can only achieve goals by taking one step at a time. If you try to juggle three or four tasks at a time, you could suffer mental exhaustion remembering what stage each task is at.

Make Lists

If you are doing one task at a time, you will need a clear record of what else needs doing, so make a list. This is important for tracking calls coming in as well as ones you have made, so try to note down every call, with a time, incoming or outgoing. It will help you assess urgency further down the line, knowing when one problem was reported, or when to chase up a call you have placed.

Establish Processes

Having a standardised process for most tasks will ensure productivity as everyone will understand what stage a task is at, and can pick up where you left off. This is especially important in a property management company with multiple employees. With a standard onboarding procedure for new tenants, if you happen to be pulled to another task, someone else knows exactly what needs doing going forward for existing projects. It will also help with scheduling repairs too, if there are standard points at which each project arrives – reporting, scheduling, implementing, inspecting etc. If everyone is working to the same process, the job becomes much easier to understand for the whole team.

Be Prepared

Property management is a career which always brings the unexpected – that is the nature of the job. Nobody expects a pipe to burst, or a drain to become blocked, but they occur regularly with multiple properties under your watchful eye. Being prepared for those eventualities is hugely important. You may prepare by carrying out 'services' of these key aspects of a property, checking drains and plumbing regularly, but that could impact productivity negatively in taking up too much time. Insurance is a good way of staying one step ahead of any unpredictable variables. An overview of the landlord insurance policies on HomeServe, details that tenants can deal directly with the insurer in the event of a problem, cutting out the need for landlords or property managers to intervene. Not only are you prepared for a problem, but when it does occur it is not something that steals your attention away from the other day-to-day jobs you have to fulfil.

Leave the Office

Leaving your desk is a vital part of improving productivity, according to this post on Medium. It helps stimulate the brain and by switching off, you make it easier to switch back on. Stepping out for half an hour might sound counter-productive, but it is proven to improve concentration and application. Want to be more productive? Stop working for a short time and rest your mind.