The pace of change experienced around the world in 2020 will continue into 2021, not least in the real estate industry predicts veteran agent, Peter Nicolls.
After 44 years in the industry, Mr Nicolls, the director of KR Peters, says he has experienced nothing that comes close to the rapid change and turmoil that engulfed the industry in 2020.
Coronavirus restrictions upended traditional practices in March, when on-site auctions were cancelled and mass open for inspections were banned leading analysts to predict a real estate downturn or, worse, a crash.
Despite the challenges, the industry adapted embracing online auctions and one-on-one inspections by appointment.
Sales continued even amid the worst of Victoria's harsh winter lockdown, before the market roared back into life at the end of October when restrictions were eased, buoyed by low interest rates, generous state and federal government incentives and demand from Aussies returning home from overseas.
Mr Nicolls says many of the changes ushered in by Coronavirus are here to stay and the industry will continue to innovate and adapt.
"The speed of transacting has certainly changed thank to innovations like Zoom meetings, Docusign and virtual auctions," Mr Nicolls said.
"And because online auctions are now accepted as normal, there are no boundaries. People can bid for properties from interstate or even overseas."
For agents the changes wrought by 2020 mean there is no such thing as a standard work day and Saturdays are no longer the crucial day for open for inspections. For agents the industry is now more flexible as buyers and vendors get used to 24 hour service and technology allows them to work remotely.
"This is no longer a 9 to 5 job. Transactions are happening 24 hours around the clock," Mr Nicolls said.
Forward thinking agencies like KR Peters have also had to adapt when it comes to marketing, a trend that will continue to gather pace with tech-savvy Millennials and Gen Ys now representing a large proportion of buyers.
Marketing is no longer just a board on the front fence and advertisements online and in newspapers. Vendors now expect sophisticated sales campaigns featuring professional video, 3D technology, virtual tours and drones.
"The importance of our company website and content has never been more important as the agency becomes more like a sophisticated marketing company," said Mr Nicolls.
The industry will also continue to embrace big data in 2021, an increasingly valuable resource for both agents and property managers.
Customer databases will continue to be among an agency's most valuable tools and the sharing of client information will extend to buyer pooling in 2021.
"There will be a focus on pooling buyers so that all agents work as one united team to ensure all our vendors and purchasers achieve the best possible outcome," Mr Nicolls explained.
However, some things won't change, like KR Peters' positive culture and emphasis on teamwork and collaboration.
"I and the other directors here at KR Peters have always focussed on building a team with strengths in every position and this will continue in 2021."
With a strong market, surging demand and more technological change on the horizon, the team at KR Peters is in a good position to weather whatever 2021 may bring.