The real estate agent’s guide to weathering the Covid19 storm

On 30 January 2020, the current outbreak of COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency of international concern and, for now, most people in South Africa do not have an immediate risk of exposure to the virus.If you or clients are sick, rather arrange a zoom, face time, WhatsApp video or Microsoft teams call.  South Africa has launched a response programme and instituted a number of key measures to stem the spread of the virus.“However, as we have seen happen in other countries, the situation can rapidly evolve, with level 3 travel warnings now in place for China, South Korea, Italy and Iran, and a level 2 travel warning for Japan while the number of confirmed cases in other countries like the United Kingdom has spiked in recent weeks,” says Yael Geffen, CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty.“We have seen how the virus has impacted every factor of life in countries where there are high infection rates, with many industries virtually at a standstill.”“In real estate, agents deal with the public on a daily basis, meeting many new people in any given week so it’s essential that we all put precautionary steps in place now while infection rates in South Africa are still low - for our own protection as well as our clients,” he says.“It’s therefore vitally important to educate ourselves and our teams about the scientific facts from official sources rather than relying on hyperbole and media hysteria.”Equally important is to remain calm and not become fearful or panic-stricken, not least because stress can dampen your immune response, making you more vulnerable to contracting viruses, says Geffen.He suggests the following steps to consider implementing in offices:1. Alternative communicationIf you or clients are sick, rather arrange a zoom, face time, WhatsApp video or Microsoft teams call. “We are fortunate to be living in an age of digital technology which enables us to effectively replace face to face communication if necessary,” says Geffen.2. Health noticeAsk your teams to sanitise hands upon every entry to the premises - even if they’ve just popped out for a minute to buy a sandwich or have a puff.3. Work remotelyIf you’re comfortable with your staff working remotely, suggest they do that - especially if someone in their household is sick.4. DigitiseThere are now many apps for digital signatures which allow you to sign legal documents remotely. But it’s best to use trusted software providers as they add an additional level of security by providing authentication and audit logs, among other features

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