Optimism has been thin on the ground in the property industry over the last few years. Not only has the market been subdued (or downright depressed in certain regions), consumer expectations have also been changing, driven in part by “disruptors” like low-cost sales platforms.
As a result, Tony Clarke, MD of the Rawson Property Group, says many real estate businesses have found their previously stellar sales figures slumping – a trend which has been particularly prevalent in smaller, independent operations, but can be seen in all sales offices where technology, training and support systems continue to take a back seat.
This, he says, will become even more detrimental to success as 2020 gains momentum, despite what he calls “positive prospects” for the year ahead.
“Signs are currently pointing towards a relatively good year for the property market in 2020,” he says. “Between increasing demand and affordability, decreasing interest rates and inflation, and banks desperate to meet their lending targets, we’re expecting to see a notable uptick in buyer activity over the course of the year.”
To whom those buyers (and sellers) give their business, however, is up for debate. Will low cost platforms and for-sale-by-owner transactions continue to gain ground, or can real estate professionals reclaim their reputation for providing a service well worth paying for?
“That’s really up to the real estate business owners,” says Clarke. “Are they willing to do what it takes to deliver a service that today’s buyers and sellers find convenient and valuable, or are they going to tread water and hope the old ways will keep them afloat?”
The answer may seem obvious, but Clarke says the kind of reinvention and innovation required to make it in today’s market is not something that can be done overnight. Independent businesses may find this process unattainable, as the time and cost involved in catching up to those further along the reinvention path can be prohibitive.
“We’ve been privileged to have been able to invest a huge amount of time, money and man-power at Rawson Properties to get us to where we are today,” says Clarke. “We now have an exceptionally powerful and user-friendly technology ecosystem, proven agent support and training programmes, and multi-award-winning marketing lending its weight to every franchise and every sale. We’ve already seen great results in both new and old franchises, which have been growing from strength to strength, despite market challenges.”
While Clarke says Rawson’s tools and real time access to relevant data is instrumental in enabling Rawson agents to provide the kind of next-level service today’s customers demand, being part of a national network is also a big advantage in the current market.
“The knowledge-sharing and referral network of a national brand gives agents access to sales leads and a ready buyer pool that really helps drive speedy turnover,” he says. “This is particularly important in the current market where listings can otherwise take a long time to move. Nothing puts sellers off faster than a sale that seems to be stagnating, and nothing stagnates a real estate business like sellers jumping ship.”
With so many advantages on their side, Clarke says it’s no wonder brands like Rawson are expanding faster than ever heading into 2020.
“Successful independent operators are joining Rawson as a way to rekindle their business growth after plateauing in the current climate,” he says. “They’ve realised there’s no better way to get everything they need to gain market share and tap into the full potential of this coming year.”
As for the rest of the industry, Clarke believes 2020 may catch them unprepared.
“Buyers and sellers are going to keep looking for better value, through real estate services that deliver more than just transactional support,” he says. “If you don’t have what it takes to provide that service, don’t be surprised when sellers push for rock-bottom commissions, or take their business elsewhere.”