So, it’s been a few months since it became no longer mandatory for individuals who test positive to COVID-19 to isolate at home. Now we here at Gill & Hooper love a reflective moment, and we got thinking about what a wild, crazy ride the past couple of years have been (quite possibly the understatement of the century?).
Since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Australia on 25th January, 2020, property values have hit record-breaking highs, rents have skyrocketed and the cost of living feels like it’s on a firmly upwards trajectory.
Plenty has been written about the numbers; percentage increases and consumer trends, but what about the industry behind the numbers? What can we learn from the last two and a bit years – the good, the bad and the ugly? What are the changes we want to stay, and what are the challenges that we need to address as an industry? Here’s our hot take.
Hate to say we told you so, but we SO told you so! The collaboration that we saw at the advent of the pandemic has, happily, stuck around in the industry, and we’d wager that we’re all a whole lot better off thanks to it. The businesses and people that make up the industry came together in 2020 to share ideas, knowledge and support each other and we are stoked that, rather than revert to our old ways once the world started to (kind of) get back to normal, we collectively protected that collaborative instinct. Go us!
In addition to collaboration within the industry, we’re also pleased to see that in many instances, the role of the property manager is now so much more about collaborating with a client rather than the simpler, more transactional dynamic of the pre-COVID industry. We’ve written extensively about the requirement for property managers not to operate in the weeds of administration and instead elevate the role to more of a subject matter expert; with PM’s offering clients advice on local market trends, relevant legislative requirements that impact property investors as well as performing proactive diagnosis of maintenance issues – it’s a massive job! And we’re definitely seeing more of that elevated role since COVID-19 sent the industry into a spin two years ago – in part due to…
Innovation, innovation, innovation. How great is innovation? When everyone was sent home to work, and assembling a group of people at a property inspection resembled a potential superspreader event, what did our industry do? We innovated. We took property inspections online, we collaborated with our teams remotely and we implemented virtual document signing practices.
And what did we learn from this? Ultimately, that the sky doesn’t fall in when we digitise some of our core functions. We’re loving the fact that not only are the innovations that flourished during COVID-19 here to stay in many cases, but also that culturally, there’s less of a “…nah, that won’t work” mentality and more of an acceptance (enthusiasm, even!) around technology complementing the services we deliver.
And while we’re definitely cheering about the load that software and automation can carry in the industry, it would be remiss of us not to highlight a key learning from the last two plus years…
While we hate to dampen the vibe, the lived experience of many in our industry over the past two years has been, to put it mildly, tough. Retaining staff across the real estate space, but especially in property management, has been particularly difficult and we know that staff shortages mean those who remain have carried the burden of increased workloads. Burnout and mental health challenges are certainly not exclusive to the property management industry but their prevalence is a fact that we mustn’t ignore.
What does this tell us? It’s a timely reminder that at its core, our profession is about people. It’s about the people we work for and helping them to achieve their property investment dreams or secure the perfect rental property for their family. It’s also about the people on our side of the fence – to whom we all have a collective responsibility to support, grow and develop the conditions for a happy and fulfilling career.
It’s our hope that we’ll start to experience improved staff retention as an industry as more and more people choose a career in property management due to the diversity of skills and experiences it fosters. Suffice to say, it’s only with a fully resourced workforce that we can genuinely realise the professional potential of the property management purpose.