COVID19: Tips to stay in the real estate game during a crisis

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We are wondering what to suggest to the estate agents/developers, who now have plenty of void time on their hands and books.

We feel that this “dead” period of demand and no deals, must not be left unexplored and use this time to improve oneself both in marketing approaches, as well as internet skills with the target to widen the potential client horizon.

When one decides what to do and follow a certain path, bear in mind the costs involved and every effort must be weighted to potential costs, since, nowadays, income is running thin, in addition to the possible disappointments by the numerous clients.

  • Improve your computer skills through own education and seek the assistance of the more knowledgeable staff.
  • Improve your listing techniques, invest in a good quality camera, giving as much information as possible (including zoning, potential development suitability and suggestion, details of the building, stipulate if title available, the existence of leases and terms etc).
  • Explore the websites of other big players such as Gordian, Altamira, Remu, APS and acquaint yourself of the details and more importantly ascertain the asking sales price vis-à-vis, the prevailing ones. Bear in mind that these big “boys” are as desperate to sell as you are and are more eager to respond and cooperate with possible discounted offers.
  • Learn how to adopt the visual tours listings avoiding exaggeration, which might mislead the client, e.g. by just showing the best part of a property only.
  • Express your opinion whether the asking price is reasonable including the potential for appreciation and don’t use expressions such as “dead cheap”, comment on the new statutory tenancy evictions period 2-3 months (most important for investors – purchase for income).
  • There is a large number of properties for sale and we suggest that you concentrate on those that are the most marketable and/or within your capabilities and your clients want. It is a fact that high-end properties bring in a higher commission if concluded, but they are more difficult to sell and time-consuming.
  • Place your “For Sale” boards, since we find now owners are more willing to accept this than before, especially for those that have financial difficulties, squeezed by financiers or otherwise. Similarly attempt to get exclusivity sales period of 3-6 months (not generally accepted, but now the situation is different).
  • Depending on the duration of the prevailing virus situation and the side effects that this has on local and foreign investor income and needs, review the asking price at intervals at say once every 2-3 months.
  • Concentrate yourselves if your clientele is locally based (Cypriots) to the ordinary residential units suitable for locals and enrich your listings for the popular holiday homes especially in the Famagusta region.
  • Do not encourage your clients not paying their rent. There is a misconception on this since rents are not discounted only postponed.  The non-payment of rent will last for the next 2-3 months.  Non-payment of rent is not “gifted”, but tenants will be called upon to pay, later on, by which time, if the total due mounts up, the tenant may not be able to cover this, and the eviction of 2-3 months still remains.
  • Explain to your potential clients the new provisions of the statutory tenant law and bear in mind Brexit, British firms/people are no longer protected (like other E.U. citizens).
  • If you are taking a client for a tour, make sure that you secure a travel permit for yourself, as well as for the potential client (and check how many people you can take with you in one car).
  • Do not overemphasize the virus situation, which is already scary, by adding your own “stories” on the subject. Yes, if you are asked you must reply with honesty, but do not overdo it by saying “it will pass very soon”, or such like.  If you are selling properties at Paphos, do not add your own comments like “Paphos is the worst affected area by the virus”, “the hospital is closed”.
  • When meeting a client do not appear at the time of viewing with a mask. This alone will scare the client (at own risk mind you) but reading the various reports, the masks do not necessarily work. Just in case keep with you unused 3-4 masks if needed for you and asked by the client.
  • For those who are “supervisors”, bosses etc, show your leadership and be supportive with your staff, going to the office and do not keep yourself at home protected. “The leader must be at the front” (Napoleon).
  • Make sure that upon visiting a property, it has been disinfected, as well as paper towels for washing hands. Do not do as a salesperson did, place a zivania drink (strong alcohol) and encourage the visitors to have a couple of shots!! (see Poland on confiscated illegal vodka, which is now used as a disinfectant base).
  • Desperate situations bring up all sorts of ideas, such as the Lebanese cannot take their money out of their country. “We will pay you in Lebanon and if you accept, we will buy,” one client told us.  This entails possible illegal exporting of money, as well as other consequences.
  • Present yourselves with a positive attitude (not overdoing it) and be properly professionally dressed (no jeans), participate with the client’s concerns and share their concerns and not push through the sale, something which will put off clients by realizing that you are just there to get a sale regardless. Be as honest as you can.
  • Sending a letter/email to your clients to remind them that you are there for them, if they need anything, offering your assistance, especially to the foreign clients, (it will do wonders).