Virtually possible | A new era for business

Responding to the sudden virtual revolution of the commercial property market with a “new process, same results” attitude – the digital future that was set to disrupt the property industry is upon us.

08 Apr 2020

By Nicholas Heaton

Virtually possible | A new era for business
As COVID-19 forces businesses across the board to adapt their processes, it’s the introduction of new virtual capabilities that will help teams achieve the same results in a very different world.

Since the March 25 announcement prohibiting public auctions and limiting open-for-inspections, we’ve seen a raft of new rules – including several social distancing measures. All of which have prompted property companies to adapt quickly to a new (however temporary) normal – no doubt shaping the future of the industry.

Whilst online bidding, virtual reality inspections and other digital selling techniques have been around for a while now, it’s undeniable that businesses have had to rely on digital more than ever before.

Agents have pivoted from face-to-face client meetings to almost exclusively using video conferencing tools, the likes of Zoom and Skype, to facilitate selling and communicating in this new digital landscape. CBRE’s Sydney Metropolitan Investments team has introduced a virtual sales process that is seeing record results and proving to be highly successful.

This new sales process enabled the team to complete seven transactions in 14 days, including the sale of a significant office investment at 280-286 Pacific Highway in Lindfield for a record sale price.

The purchasing logistics may have changed, but these results highlight that vendors and buyers can transact safely and successfully in the current environment.

As it presently stands, and if buyers prefer, agents can conduct one-on-one inspections, using appropriate social distancing. However, in anticipation of further changes, and to meet some clients existing requests, CBRE is preparing video inspections on all its campaigns and is utilising Zoom calls for buyers to negotiate deals.

The business, and many within the industry, are continuing to conduct auctions – moving to online forums, with bidding conducted over the phone.

Now more than ever, its important businesses consider relationships (with clients, community and internal people, alike) to ensure commitment to ongoing client care doesn’t slip.

CBRE’s industry experts and Research professionals are delivering on-the-pulse updates with regular internal and client-facing webinars, labelled ‘Flash Calls’, and clients are continually being informed on the latest market updates.

As CBRE’s office-based workforce is also working remotely, the business is focussing on ensuring all business lines and project teams hold regular Zoom calls with the cameras on, ensuring people stay connected and across what is happening in their field of work. The business is also embracing the social side of virtual connectivity – with competitions, home-office tours, art workshops, health and wellbeing webinars and shared Spotify playlists to boost team connectivity.

The long-term impacts of COVID-19 and the subsequent changes to our operating model are still too early to predict. However, it’s clear this virtually connected way of doing business is the way forward. While it was always on the horizon, it has just presented itself a little sooner than we expected.