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How the Real Estate Industry is Modernising - January 2021

By Guest Blogger, Leanne Pilkington, Managing Director,

Laing & Simmons and President REINSW

 

Many industries are grappling with a chicken-and-egg type question when it comes to the impacts and legacy of the pandemic: has COVID-19 changed the way our industry operates forever, or has it simply amplified the trends that were already emerging?

Anyone who has worked in real estate through the ups and downs of a market cycle knows that, to survive, you can never stop evolving. At an individual agent and business level, this means constantly investigating new ways to do things, always with the customer experience as the driving focus.

Virtual inspections, docu-signing and online auctions are just some of the ways the industry adapted to navigate the lockdown. Technological advances already in play all of a sudden had a larger role in the game plan. The innovation that had already been occurring enabled the best agents to survive.

The industry must always seek to modernise too. Pre-COVID, there were numerous ways this was materialising, with the REINSW leading the way.

The path to professionalism, more comprehensive training, elevated educational standards and new regulations were progressing, and still are. In 2021, we can expect some of these changes to become part of the operating landscape.

Right now, we’re testing. We’re engaging with a range of businesses to understand how we can best, as an industry, pursue the path to professionalism in a way that benefits all stakeholders, not least agents and their customers. Our work at the coal face with REINSW members will ensure the framework is fit for purpose.

There will be changes, so watch this space. Specifically, the REINSW will be coordinating a virtual summit in early 2021 to update the industry on the progress to date. The REINSW annual roadshow series is also being re-imagined, to reflect changed circumstances and to invigorate agents in the new operating environment.

To be recognised as a profession will be critical to the future of everyone working in real estate. It’s no secret that the less-than-ideal actions of a few have coloured the view of real estate agents in consumers’ eyes. Any reputational points lost can be won back, and will be, as we pursue professional accreditation.

For the vast majority of agents who are already innovating, who always prioritise their customers, who have weathered the COVID-19 storm because they take a responsible, ethical approach, raising the bar in a professional sense is a welcome evolution for the industry.

As we close out the strangest year on record, a stocktake on some of the wins that the REINSW has achieved over 2020 shows that they’ve largely been about value proposition.

The pandemic proved the REINSW has the platform and the potential to be the single source of truth for the industry. Keeping the industry up to date, consistently and regularly, was especially important when the operating environment was changing day to day, even hour to hour.

Having direct links to Government and the industry, understanding changing public health orders and then ensuring Government accounted for the real-world implications of their implementation, was an all-encompassing task. The REINSW gained, on average, one new member each day through the first three months of lockdown, underlining the importance of strong industry representation.

Restrictions have since been wound back but it’s not a matter of coming full circle. Some elements, like leveraging technology to provide a convenient service, are here to stay. Consumers will increasingly demand real-time service including answers to their questions at times that suit them, through channels they prefer. Artificial intelligence will have a role to play and leading operators will continue to innovate in this space.

In 2021, some emerging trends will become grounded in day-to-day operations. The changes to training and educations standards will take hold. Real estate is dynamic and next year will reinforce this principle. And, with equal parts optimism and confidence, we can all agree it will be better than this year.

 

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