A year ago today – Principal Update

On Tuesday 24 March 2020, Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a direction that Australians were to stay home “unless absolutely necessary”. That direction had numerous impacts on the community, one of which saw the banning of real estate auctions and open house inspections.  By the 25th March lockdown was in place. 

We made the decision to close the office on Coolum Esplanade for a 4 week period and under the advice of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland we split our team up so the business could still operate in the event covid-19 struck one of us.  Two weeks later, after purchasing new desks and printers for staff to work from home, we realised our software technology investments made in 2015 were really paying off. Our team was able to immediately focus on what needed to be done.

We spent the next 12 weeks navigating some very uncharted territory.  Tenants and Lessors had lost jobs. Sellers were unsure about the value of their homes.  Media statements were being released without the legislation changes being passed providing mass confusion.  As a community we were told “don’t go outside and don’t go out into the community. There would be no coming together to celebrate birthdays and no family BBQs on weekends. How were we meant to all cope?  

Supermarkets were struggling to keep toilet paper on the shelves, and leading industry spokespeople were telling us “we had better prepare for a crisis.” 

I thought I’d share some insight into some of our highs and lows over the past 12 months.  Rather than putting our heads in the sand hoping it would all go away – 

  • We sold 3 houses via facetime inspections.  With interstate travel bans in place we had to adapt quickly and our smart phone with a camera became our best friend.
  • When we had word of the impending lockdown we swiftly had all the for sale properties videoed.
  • Our half hour weekly open home was replaced with up to 20 back to back private inspections over a day ensuring we could still get the best result for our sellers. 
  • Our property managers became councillors, providing emotional support to our clients and customers.  They successfully managed to negotiate rental reductions to tenants under duress ensuring all tenants remained housed and owners received their rents (some in due course).
  • Communication was king with our landlords and tenants receiving a weekly written update of the unfolding situation.  Many acknowledged their gratitude that someone cared enough to touch base. 
  • Our regular routine inspections were on hold, so we began rewarding  tenants for sending videos and photos of their properties to us so we could keep our investors informed.
  • We adapted to our team being separated but kept our regular team meetings in place via live video conferencing and lots and lots of calls to each other to help keep spirits high.
  • Our conference calendar was cancelled and our learning classrooms became online video conferences allowing us to keep growing.  With so many changes in our daily operation this was fundamental to ensure our team remained industry leaders over this time.
  • We had a 25% increase in sales volumes which speaks loudly of the trust the local community has in our team. In property management the proof is in the pudding as we enjoy a zero percent arrears rate.
  • Most importantly, we made hundreds of calls to people;  simply asking if they needed our help.
  • On the personal front we had 2 pre-covid weddings, 2 weddings cancelled and 3 staff had operations.  We shed plenty of tears, ending the year with one big Christmas Corona Party.

It certainly has been a year of challenges.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who showed great understanding and empathy for others over the last 12 months.  While this is far from over,  we continue weekly to improve our service offering. 

We thank everyone who has been on this journey with us.  We could not have done it without your support.

Cara Lane