The Guild of Property Professionals has set out what it thinks letting agents should be considering in the short, medium and long terms as Britain battles a pandemic likely to continue throughout much of next year at least.
Short Term: From a lettings perspective, with the furlough scheme coming to an end, rent may become more difficult to collect.
“If you have not already done so, we would recommend providing a rent guarantee to your landlords as soon as possible. It will help both your lettings business and the landlord, so ensure that you are educating landlords about the rental guarantee products available and provide them with the option to opt-in” advises Guild chief executive Ian McKenzie.
The Guild has a range of Covid-secure policies governing how member agents should operate, but more widely McKenzie says: “With the current growing infection rate, people will want to work with a business that is doing the right thing and putting their customers’ safety first. As consumers we will avoid businesses that we don’t feel safe in, so as agents we must ensure we are doing what we can to place our clients minds as ease.”
Medium Term: The emphasis here, McKenzie insists, is on agents emphasising their local expertise.
“We could potentially see the number of transactions decrease in 2021. Agents should anticipate this and estimate what impact this could have on their local market and ensure this forecast is in their projected budget for the year. Different regions will be impacted differently based on the influences that impact the micro-economic climate, such as being on a commuter belt or the trend of people moving out of cities for example. A local agent will understand their area and the possible influx of transactions they may expect” he suggests.
McKenzie adds that another thing to look at during the medium term would be cost base. “There may have been some knee jerk reactions made at the beginning of lockdown with regard to the costs of running a business. This is something that should be revisited as part of the strategy of the business moving forward, and where a membership to an umbrella organisation such as The Guild could help agents save on costs by consolidating payments to third-party suppliers” he says.
Long Term: In challenging market conditions, good agents will prevail because of their exceptional customer care, predicts the Guild. It adds that if there is a tougher market ahead, there will be opportunities for good agents to increase their market share and their business footprint by showing they are the best and safest agents to be entrusted to sell the property.
“The Guild has already increased its market share during the pandemic due to its ability to demonstrate these points and it is expected that the network’s market share will continue to grow in 2021. While challenges lie ahead, there is light at the end of the tunnel and the long-term outlook looks promising for agents who are prepared and do the necessary strategic planning for the year ahead” McKenzie concludes.