The trends that the coronavirus has brought to housing ... and that are here to stay

The unexpected crisis caused by the coronavirus has brought the real estate recovery stage that started in 2014 to a halt. In the coming quarters, the housing market is facing a drop in sales, the mortgage firm, prices and operations investment. If the forecasts are correct until 2022 there will not be a full recovery in the residential sector. 

And within all this tangle of changes, market operators believe that we will see new trends. Trends that will not only be reflected on day 1 after the covid-19 but will hit the market to stay. These include the necessary omnichannel commercial presence of real estate agents, the new needs and preferences of families when looking for a new home, the commitment to online visits or the importance of professionals betting on continuous training to give the best possible customer service.

According to the reflections that the real estate world has raised in #InmocionateEnCasa, the online event promoted by the Real Estate Credit Union (UCI) and its professional development area for real estate agents SIRA (Spanish International Realty Alliance), these are the most outstanding trends that will become in a market reality after the 'shock' of the pandemic:

1. Fingering is a necessity, not an option

One of the most obvious lessons that the crisis is leaving is the need to bet on technology . The coronavirus has driven the digital transformation that the sector has been talking about for years, but that many real estate companies did not finish carrying out.

According to the SIRA study, most of the participants claim to have made video conferences with their clients and teams through multiple platforms, have used social networks to publicize properties, have made commercial communications through applications such as WhatsApp and have managed to formalize many of the operations that were already underway, from home and thanks to these tools. Thanks to this, real estate agents have assimilated that all channels must be taken care of more than ever, including digital ones.

2. The rise of online visits

In the coming months, it will be essential to implement multiple security measures to protect the health of both clients and workforce. Many companies are promoting action protocols to promote teleworking, reorganizing the interiors of their offices to widen the distance between jobs, or acquiring protective materials such as gloves, screens or masks.

In this scenario, physical visits to the properties will have to be restricted to the most essential cases (for example, with those buyers already heavily filtered by the real estate agency or with those whose financial study has been favourable). Therefore, it will be necessary to offer customers the possibility of making online visits to the properties. 

3. An omnichannel real estate business presence

From SIRA they maintain that the figure of 'the 'floor planners', as those professionals who contribute little value is called in the sector, will have very little future. Real estate companies must combine the physical environment (the agency at street level) with the multiple existing digital channels: a suitable website, a perfectly managed SEO, a correct presence in social networks and media, an attractive blog and an attractive content management policy Four out of five clients come through the online channel, but they decide offline - on the property visit and in the office - that is why the combination of both strategies is key to offering excellent service to customers, ”says   Francis Fernández, CEO of SIRA and moderator of most of the round tables in virtual meetings. 

4. Recycling training for professionals

The need for continuous and permanently updated training, as occurs in the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the North American association in which SIRA is integrated, has been one of the aspects most valued by the participants of the meetings virtual. Being a constantly changing sector, professionals need to be up to date. 

5. New housing needs and preferences

Another of the most obvious trends is that the state of alarm and confinement has led many Spaniards to rethink the type of housing in which they want to live. After these weeks of confinement, many people have discovered that their homes do not have what their family needs. Issues such as the existence of natural light, wider spaces, with better views or with garden areas are now the priority.

'Many buyers, interested so far in living in city centres, are rethinking this question and are changing their searches towards homes in smaller towns or the suburbs, also encouraged by lower prices and the possibility of being able to continue working remotely in their companies, 'argue from SIRA. 

In fact, there are studies that indicate that homes located in municipalities close to large cities, those that are in prime locations in the capitals and those that have good views, gardens or terraces are the types of houses that will best withstand the crisis and even that they could be revalued in the face of a foreseeable increase in demand.

6. More traditional rental than tourist

The slowdown in the arrival of tourists and the uncertainty about how long this situation could last is forcing owners and investors to look for ways to mitigate the effects of this crisis. 'It is true that since 2018 many of these owners were already evaluating the reorientation of the use of their homes towards the usual rent, less tax penalized and much simpler and cheaper to manage, but this situation has completely precipitated this trend,' maintains the study.

For example, many vacation homeowners have landed on temporary rent as a 'survival' to cover the costs of mortgages and the costs of the apartment. They offer contracts covered by law from six months to one year, in very good locations and with very competitive prices to seduce foreign workers posted to Spain or students.

7. Investors on the prowl

The expected general fall in prices will coexist with an over-demand for the most attractive homes. In fact, Toni Expósito, general director of Comprarcasa, believes that 'the good product, if it is at the right price, is in demand and will not take long to sell because there are already many investors and savers analyzing the market', given the instability of the stock markets and the low profitability currently offered by financial products such as bonds or deposits.

Expósito expects that with the opening of the market offers will appear, mainly from people who need liquidity or derived from inheritances and the accumulated offer. However, he rules out that 'great bargains like those of the worst years of the past crisis' may appear.