“There will be a long-term adjustment in how we think about our location strategy” Barclays Bank CEO
“It would require that we create a paradigm shift in our behaviour to ensure that these infections are kept at bay.” Trinidad CMO
Based on sentiments expressed in the two quotations above, after the Covid lockdown, the use of Real Estate may be altered indefinitely. There may be a new normal. During the months of March, April and May 2020 many have been forced to reconsider the work/home dynamic. Businesses have realized that working from home is a very valid proposition and persons have recognized there are benefits from working at home.
Reports are that Chief Financial Officers have been the first to identify that there can be considerable savings, by reducing rental of office space, by allowing a shift system of who reports to a physical office on which days. Employees have also identified that working from home can be a benefit to family life and stress levels, if handled correctly. There will also be benefits to the society, by forcing many to take their parenting duties more seriously. Several teachers have told me, that the period at home has forced many parents to get more involved in their children’s education.
The challenge now is determining how this will affect the Real Estate business. We may see an overall reduction in the demand for office space. On the other side there will be increased demand for homes with well equipped at home office space. The movement to smaller ‘city apartments’ will probably stall, as potential homeowners look for larger homes/apartments further away from city centres, with the knowledge that there will be much fewer trips to the office. The benefits of good home neighbourhoods may be heightened, as more persons recalibrate the amount of time spent at home versus the office.
The Real Estate Agent will also have to adjust. With persons now more at ease from operating from home offices, they may require more of the sales process taking place online. The Real Estate Agent may now have to sell via ZOOM and Microsoft Teams. She/He will now have to be much more tech savvy, using online visuals, online documents, online negotiations. Even the mortgage institutions may not reopen all the branches, closed during the period. Documents may have to be completed online and submitted electronically. Real Estate Offices will have to move away from large physical filing cabinets to cloud storage of documents. All Real Estate professionals will have to do more with less. Welcome to the New Real Estate Paradigm.