COVID-19 is changing the way of business for rural real estate but it’s not all bad, Bayleys’ Chief Operating Officer and National Director Rural, Duncan Ross says.
“The way of doing business is changing and we are rethinking what it looks like in shape over the next few weeks and longer.
“We are sharing ideas and working out new ways of dealing with things and how we do business.”
For clients it’s about surety, certainty and advice to make sure they are comfortable with what’s in place.
“For us the major difference is we can’t take people over a property but we can continue without physically going on the property.”
Ross said more by good luck than good management the autumn property book was out just as the lockdown started.
“All our properties are in the network and on the website and the listings provide a fair amount of information.
“Interest is good, quite amazing really. We can do all the legal work and we are completing transactions that were in progress before lockdown.
“We are still signing up contracts that started prior to lockdown, campaigns are due to close and some that were auctions have been pulled and changed to go through the tender process.
“Activity hasn’t stopped in that space but we do expect it will drop down in time as we get through the initial phase and complete transactions that were in progress.”
Still, there’s a lot of positivity in the rural real estate market he predicts will only build from here.
“We are in times of unprecedent uncertainty, everyone is locked away and that’s forcing change on how we deliver.
“Real estate business used to be face to face, obviously that’s not happening now and whilst we have new properties in the market it’s about how we do business in the new environment.
“The agri-sector is the one sector that will power through this better than most,” Ross said.
“It is the only sector that has to get through just a short-term deferral of income. For other sectors it will be much longer.
“Beef animals are going to keep tacking on weight, sheep are going to keep growing wool, harvest is still coming in, fruit and vegetables keep growing and processing companies, even though at lesser capacity, are still churning out product.
“All that revenue is still being built. The ag-sector is the backbone of the country. It will power on and hopefully lead to more.
“It’s when there’s positivity in the sector that transactions will occur.”
With the focus now more on yield rather than price per hectare people have got their heads around value being about the dollars they can make.
“Because the agri sector is carrying on people can see that and be positive.”
Banks will likely be more prudent and might defer business to other sectors and that could make it more difficult to gain finance to the same level as previously.
“But the agri sector will continue to power on and drive certainty,” Ross said.
Until the March 31 quarter it has been a good run.
“Now we are locked in because we can’t get people across farms but that just means we operate in a different way.”
With 115 agents in rural and lifestyle real estate across the country connection with each other and with clients is greater than ever.
“We can travel further afield on a phone in a day than we can miles in a car. While our guys have got the time we will certainly make good use of that.”
By Annette Scott