The prevailing pandemic has altered the way we work and live and compelled people and industries to adapt to the blows of COVID-19. As a global community, we are all working to find new ways to co-exist with this humanitarian challenge and adjust to achieve business continuity or normalcy, to say the least.
Today, we explore how COVID-19 will change the way we buy and rent properties in Dubai, UAE. By acting today, real estate leaders must identify how they can best serve their end-users; likewise, how future home buyers and renters can benefit even in a challenging property market.
We are still slowly navigating through the blows of COVID-19. In a matter of weeks, businesses and people’s lives have been altered in ways unimaginable. Suddenly, we are discouraged to meet in groups, visit offices, or take trips. Eventually, social distancing measures have been introduced and companies are moved from “business as usual” to work from home policies and office closures. These disruptions obliged us to remain at home and spend only on essentials – primarily food and medical supplies – and often opt to have them delivered home.
The imminent challenge
Since working from home has become the new reality for many, the real estate market is bound to be impacted. Restricting property agents and potential buyers or renters from entering homes while protecting the health and safety of employees and end-users is a tight rope every real estate leader must cross. Responding to the current threat of COVID-19 and laying the foundations to overcome this challenge or even planning for permanent changes in the industry, real estate leaders must take an agile action plan now.
New market dynamics
At the onset of the pandemic, the real estate industry is faced with a shift in the palette of property buyers and renters, and how the dynamics in selling or buying a property is altered. Staying at home 24/7 made people realize that our homes are more than just a place to sleep in. Our living spaces have also become our office and a place for recreation and should be flexible with our changing dynamic needs.
Suddenly, we required a workstation that is conducive to studying or conducting meetings at home. People saw the need for extra space with soundproof walls, well ventilation, and good lighting. An opportunity to convert any part of our home to serve as a dedicated “home office” space. Additionally, buyers are now looking for properties where they can enjoy more natural lighting, good air quality, and an opportunity for outdoor spaces. Property buyers are now putting emphasis on smart home features and dynamic living spaces.
Real Estate players in the UAE are nudged with an urgency to provide a better and more distinctive tenant and customer experience. And as the crisis affects the way tenants make lease payments or owners pay service charges, not to mention the paperwork to be signed and processed. Many real estate leaders will have to make smart decisions for specific situations and the smarter ones will also prepare how the real estate landscape may be changed permanently.
Taking it digital
To respond better to the unprecedented changes in the real estate industry, many operators have realized to digitalize their processes and the way they interact with clients and end-users. Many owners’ associations are challenged to make collections with reduced incomes and how tenants struggle to make lease payments. Lifting of service charges and other concessions became a norm and main real estate players were figuring out to whom to give and how much.
Property viewing is now even made digital through virtual home tours wherein a property seeker comfortably books an appointment online and gets a 360 view. Property buyers will also heavily rely on technology to operate doors or elevators through facial and voice recognition to keep from getting in contact with potentially high contaminated areas.
Real Estate investments have always generated a steady flow of cash, however, with the ongoing and prolonging effects of the virus outbreak caused many to experience collateral damage. Operators will focus on centralizing cash management to provide efficiency and focus on building portfolio and making decisions.
Reshaping the future of real estate
It is without a doubt that real estate owners and operators are considering the long-term effects of the coronavirus outbreak and how it will change the property market landscape in the long run or even permanently. Real estate players have to alter their strategy to fit for the current situation and needs. Now, real estate leaders must begin with ensuring the health and safety of all employees, staff, tenants, and other stakeholders. COVID-19 will be a part of our lives and those who succeed in tackling this challenge will go beyond just adapting to the “new normal” but taking bold actions and decisions in shaping the “next normal”.