We locked the office last week after turning down the heating and all retreated to our respective homes to work. I’m so pleased we chose to invest in wireless networking in the office last year; both our laptops and desk phones plug-in to a standard 13 Amp socket, connect to our home-wireless networks and away we go. The majority of our software is safely on The Cloud, with only our digital document storage solution tucked away in our office server, complete with on-site and off-site back up every night.
Gemma and Oneeka (Property Maintenance) and Emma (Finance) have seen little in the way of changes to their day-to-day workload, although Oneeka and Emma both have young children, which I can imagine makes their work day ‘interesting’! Angie has seen a significant upturn in requests from tenants to renew their fixed term tenancy agreements – human instinct to want to ensure a roof over our heads, which most landlords are happy to accommodate.
My valuation work is now limited to what I can offer clients ‘remotely’. Visiting properties has been stopped by the Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Governments, but with my knowledge of north Leeds, Google Earth and Street View, the Ordnance Survey maps we have access to online and our database of comparable sales transactions, I’m aiming to provide clients with open market appraisals with a +/- 5% margin of error if they send me a few digital photos of the interior of the property. This seems to be appreciated by those making plans for when this pandemic is under control and we can commence marketing properties, or those needing some idea on the value for tax purposes (Probate, CGT, etc). We have properties waiting to be listed but to do so now would simply have them sitting on the property portals looking stale, given we have no ability to undertake viewings or generate offers at this time and have no indication when the restrictions will be lifted. To ensure our clients achieve the best price and most efficient sale, it is better we wait until the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and then fully market the property knowing we can achieve our client’s objective.
Our team is maintaining contact with customers and helping resolve issues and problems as best we can. Gemma and Oneeka are still able to arrange emergency repairs on properties, which I think is very welcomed by tenants, especially those key-workers who really couldn’t do the wonderful job they are doing without heating and hot water when a boiler packs-in! They have our backs when we need them. We’ll make sure we have theirs in the meantime.
Working from home is harder than I expected. There are emails flying around our team, the content of which would usually be dealt with simply by putting one’s head around the corner of a colleague’s door and asking a question. Now, it doesn’t seem right to pick up the phone to make the enquiry, so we spend even longer writing an email! No doubt we’ll become more efficient as time goes on. We’re already having video meetings using Zoom – we just have to be careful not to talk over one another – which is a big change but highly productive. I’m not sure how far video communication will develop – perhaps we’ll be liaising with seller, buyers, landlords and tenants this way in the not too distant future, especially if the ‘New World’ we’re facing requires a lot more social distancing than we’ve been used to.
If customers need us, we’re here (somewhere on a ‘Cloud’) ready to talk. In addition to our regular, albeit somewhat reduced, newsletters, watch out for our social media updates, which Hayley will be posting on an almost daily. We’ll try and keep you informed of what’s happening in the property market, with events unfolding on a daily basis.