8 April 2020

Key considerations

  • Act early and decisively, to ensure your business can continue to operate
  • The steps you take now may directly determine how your business continues – don’t wait for external support
  • Planning and adaptation may be key for continuity

Why you need to act now

While it’s still too soon to tell how significant the impacts of COVID-19 will be on the real estate industry, it’s already changing the way many businesses operate. At the time of writing, Core Logic has reported that upcoming auction activity has fallen substantially, with more than 50% of properties withdrawn, and auction clearance rates at their lowest ever levels.1 And with the federal government placing a moratorium on evictions, and forecasting that at least 1.7m Australians could soon be reliant on the Coronavirus Supplement,2 property management revenues may also be affected.

At times like these, amongst the tension and pressure of living in a period of rapid and uncertain change, adaptation and planning will be important steps to ensure continuity. While you can (and should consider) taking advantage of the support that governments, financial institutions and others have to offer, it’s also imperative to consider acting now, to ensure your business can continue operating efficiently as the situation unfolds.

In this guide, we’ve listed some of the issues you may wish to consider across five key areas of the business.

1.  Efficiency and technology related areas

  • Review your technology suite to ensure it supports efficient remote working. Tools to consider include:
    • Communication and collaboration tools – for example, Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx
    • Cloud data storage tools – for example, Dropbox, OneDrive, Amazon Drive, Box, Google Drive, iCloud Drive
    • Customer relationship management (CRM) tools – for example, Propertybase, Salesforce, Insightly
    • Accounting and payroll tools – for example, Xero, MYOB Essentials
    • Payment automation tools – for example, DEFT and DEFT Auction Pay
  • As far as possible, ensure tools are effectively integrated to avoid data duplication and re-entry
  • Ensure teams have the tools they need to not simply work remotely, but to collaborate

2.  Operations and planning

  • Review and update your business continuity plan. Consider high risk contingencies, such as a member of your team becoming infected, and being required to self-isolate
  • If your team haven’t moved to working from home, consider putting plans in place now, to be ready as soon as it becomes necessary. This may take some time to plan and effect
  • Review your processes for manual tasks, and look to automate or digitise wherever possible
  • Consider outsourcing tasks that cannot be digitised, if it can be done cost-effectively

3.  Finances

  • Liquidity and cash flow is important so consider this aspect of your business and any changes that may be required
  • Consider reaching out to:
    • Your accountant, to understand costs and ensure you benefit from all available and appropriate government support
    • Your landlord, to discuss options with rental payments
    • Key vendors, such as online real estate sites, to review terms and discuss options for navigating the crisis together

4.  Client experience

  • If possible, ensure you can support virtual property inspections and remote auctions
  • Ensure that your team are aware of their role in influencing decisions, and the requirement to not give advice, which is enforceable by ASIC
  • This technology may become an expectation in the future; so it could be worth considering and investing now
  • Create documented processes for potential buyers and tenants to inspect properties via remote alternatives, in line with state health guidelines
  • In collaboration with your team, walk through the new client experience, and consider how it can be enhanced
  • Reach out proactively to current and potential clients, to let them know what you’re doing and why

5. People and culture

  • Use collaboration tools to check in regularly with staff working remotely
  • Review staff and business structures to ensure you maximise efficiencies in any renewed operating model
  • Ensure you understand the federal and state industrial laws that apply to your business and how they may impact you

How Macquarie can help

The Macquarie Real Estate team is here to support you throughout the COVID-19 crisis, with personalised support. To find out more, contact your Macquarie Relationship Manager, call 1800 442 370, or visit macquarie.com.au/business-banking/real-estate-industry.html

Additional information

The information on this page has been prepared by Macquarie Business Banking, a division of Macquarie Bank Limited AFSL & Australian Credit Licence 237502 ("Macquarie") for general information purposes only, without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this general information, you must consider its appropriateness having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. The information provided is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for any accounting, tax or other professional advice, consultation or service.

1

CoreLogic, National Auction Market Preview - 5 April.

2

Federal Treasurer, Press Conference, 23 March 2020.