Peter Hanscomb, CEO of Belle Property and Hockingstuart looks back at the obstacles and opportunities of the year gone by
It’s been a long 12 months, and I know many of us would rather daydream about our next international flight and the possibilities of 2021 than rehash the chaos of the year gone by.
However, my 13 years of building Belle Property has taught me the importance of seeking lessons from every decision and challenge to build a stronger foundation for tomorrows business.
Over the coming few weeks, I am excited to break down for you my thoughts on how 2020 has shaped the real estate industry and what this means for the future of the property market for business and the broader public.
To begin, I would like to share my thoughts on the biggest factors that shaped the real estate industry this year:
There’s no denying digital
This year saw a rapid transition towards digital-first services across the real estate sector. Without the immersion of a home tour, the familiarity of an in-person meeting, or the excitement of a live auction, many of the standard ways we as an industry operate our business were put to the test.
Ultimately, this re-enforced the importance of high-quality digital assets, a data-led approach to operations, and an interconnected mobile-first business model.
While office closures meant our teams were working at a distance, our data driven CRM system always kept the same resources available to us, meaning that no efficiency or insight was lost as a result. Ultimately, this saw us sustain our business operations, but more importantly, we were able to service our clients to the same exacting standard as we work to under any conditions. Digital transformation allowed us to excel our commitment to premium outcomes and service, rather than automate it.
Equally, we were able to pivot our real estate services virtually as many of the digital marketing assets and products were already within our repertoire. Interactive floorplans and 3D home renders, 360o virtual home tours, and VR ‘furnishing’ all emulated the experience of a home tour from the convenience of home.
While I don’t foresee physical home inspections ever going out of favour – the number of interested parties at open-for-inspections since restrictions have been eased attest to this– this year has certainly cemented premium-quality digital marketing assets place in the residential property journey.
Importantly, I think this can be used to address a common customer pain point, which is how the property inspection process can be time consuming and often scheduled with conflicting time slots. As we optimise and improve our existing offering, we hope we can open our homes up to a wider audience of buyers regardless of schedules or geography.
The property market remains a strong and resilient investment
The economic ramifications of a global pandemic have placed immense pressure on individual spending and commercial activity across Australia. While many anticipated that an economic downturn would lead to the crash of the property market, all signs point to a fast and comprehensive recovery.
As of November, we have seen a month-on-month 0.8% increase in property values set against a 3.1% increase year-on-year. At this rate, we can expect to see a full market recovery by March next year, even with reduced spending from international investors.
While naysayers predicted the worst, this gradual yet sustained recovery affirms my belief in the strength of the market and the long-term security of investing in property. I hang my hat on this continued recovery and the ongoing opportunities to help Australians along their property journey, that’s why we’ve undertaken Australia’s largest real estate consolidation by acquiring Victorian agency Hockingstuart and opened 17 Belle Property offices in the last year alone, with grand plans for our expansion in the coming years.
Customer service is the single most important asset for a business
While property economics have a wide sweeping impact on our industry this year, there is another more significant factor that drove our business through a challenging period. We sustained our business because of how we have historically managed our clients, and how we consistently work to a high standard of customer service.
While many of the processes and operations we rely on to conduct our business changed with social distancing restrictions, this really crystallised the overarching principles of strong, trust-based, relationship management we use every day to guide our business.
Browsers, buyers, renters, and investors alike turned to us to help navigate a murky path because they trust us to provide a premium service with premium results. Nothing about 2020 has or will change that.
Although we as a business were faced with our fair share of hurdles this year – as everyone was – I can say with confidence that we have emerged stronger, more resilient, and primed for our best decade yet.