It’s Not Business As Usual

property sector business continuity

AS THE pandemic stretches on, we are getting a slightly clearer picture of the effects of shutdown on society.

As countries start opening up their borders, there may be people glad to get back into business. But it’s all with caution and set against a backdrop of deterrent policies and an economy that is trying to revive itself against a backdrop of global challenges and local issues.

The property industry, which has been one of the cornerstones of the economy, has been knocked back by COVID-19. Already struggling with emptying malls and co-working spaces, the pandemic has taught businesses that you can work from home effectively.

So, why bother with landlords and rental hikes?

With property prices kept high, affordability will be a factor to consider as the next generation consider settling down.

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Like many entrepreneurs, Chandran VR was caught unawares by the sudden onslaught of COVID-19.

The Managing Director of boutique property agency Cosmopolitan Group had to reconfigure how he continued operating in the face of the Circuit Breaker and social distancing.

“I never imagined lock downs in such a global scale would occur in my lifetime,” he muses.

Undeterred, he pushed along and found that he was still able to connect with clients via video calls and conferences. The benefit of building relationships rather than chalking up transactions paid off for Chandran.

“We have been extremely lucky to still close deals for our clients based on the close relationship we have maintained with them over the years. In fact we have actually gotten more enquiries from prime property sellers and buyers to assist them in their real estate needs and we have also managed to tie up MOUs with developers and partners from elsewhere during this period.”

But while this may sound heartening, Chandran is cognizant of the challenges to come.

property market, singapore
More dead space in the offing?

“COVID-19 has challenged all governments, economies and industries globally. Unemployment is rising, inflation and deflation are also rising. The fact is, more and more businesses will shut down locally and globally. The real estate industry is not immune to it,” he points out.

“There will be more supply and less demand. We have to be realistic and understand that many developers and real estate owners will be going through consolidation.

“It is no longer ‘business as usual’.”

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How long will it take for the industry to right itself?

Chandran thinks his industry, with almost 30,000 salespersons, will take some time to recover.

“Transaction volumes will reduce, because we already have a glut of properties, prior to COVID-19.

“I think this would be a good time for the government to lift the additional buyer’s stamp duty and seller’s stamp duty if they want to normalise our industry sooner,” he notes, albeit with little optimism for a positive outcome.


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