AA - June 2021

Author: Bill Rawson
Chairman of Bill Rawson Properties
28 June 2021

Will the door stay open for estate agents in adjusted Level 4?

Cape Town – Estate agencies will probably close head offices and allow staff to work from home in the wake of the new adjusted Level 4 announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa tonight.

In Level 4 last year estate agents were unable to work or show property and it is still uncertain if this will be the case in an adjusted Level 4.

The President on Sunday said the country was in its third wave which he said could be deadlier than the first and second waves.

“What we are seeing is that the existing containment measures in place are not enough to cope with the speed and the scale of the infections we are experiencing under this third wave,” Ramaphosa said in a televised address.

“Cabinet has decided that the country should move to adjusted alert Level 4.”

While the aim was to keep the economy going it had to move to stop high-risk gatherings.

This included schools starting holidays earlier, all restaurants closed except for delivery and collection, all inside and outside gatherings halted and a curfew adjusted to 4am to 9pm.

There would also be no alcohol sale off and on-site as a way to help free hospitals from having to deal with high alcohol-induced trauma cases.

Bill Rawson of Rawson Properties said they were trying to asses the situation right now.

Even if all protocols are followed, given the President’s speech that outside of work people should only meet with their household, it is still unclear if estate agents can show homes.

Rawson said that as a company “we have used video as a means of showing individuals property and as much as I personally don’t like it, it has become the norm so I suggest estate agents will continue to embrace technology to prevent the spreading of this terrible virus”.

He added that all their staff already operate under strict Covid-19 recommendations but “we will be closing our head office and asking people to work from home”.

The National Property Practitioners Council, headed by Vuyiswa Matshekwane, who worked tirelessly last year but did not succeed to get estate agencies opened to work in Level 4, said it was busy assessing the situation.

Meanwhile Rawson said the company, as landlords, would also come to the aid of their restaurant tenants by offering substantial reduction in rental for July.

Other landlords across the country – also hard hit already by Covid shutdowns last year – may follow suit.

The constant closure of the Deeds offices last year made real estate buying and selling difficult and it is hoped that the adjusted level doesn’t see the Deeds offices close too frequently – last week they already – in Cape Town – closed for one day, said Rawson.

The rental market may be affected, said Rawson, as tenants may not want to move into unsanitised homes.

However he did not think buying property would be affected by the adjustment to Level 4 “as the current prices are very keen”, adding there was a great opportunity for well priced investment.

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