This year, like every year for the last few, we stopped for a moment in the lead up to Christmas to consider the year that has been.
We looked back on our annual wrap ups from 2019, 2018 and years previous, and something that struck us, was just how unique this report would be.
This year, 2020, was almost a year of holding our breath, of waiting, of wishing away months of very little action, to 2021, so we could start again, fresh.
Strangely, at the same time as it felt nothing was happening, it was also a year of events that will affect our industry, our country and our world for many years to come.
In this article, we wrap up some of the most important news from the year, paying props to the victors, learning from losses and preparing to take on 2021 with energy and vigour!
The major headlines in real estate
As 2019 moved into 2020, few of us can forget the absolute tragedy of the bushfires that ravaged Australia; with devastation and destruction especially significant in NSW and Victoria.
The beginning of the year saw newspaper and television headlines fixated on the efforts of the fire services, with little other news creeping in. At the time, and still, our thoughts go out to our members, their families, friends and businesses that were affected.
But within just weeks of the turn of the New Year, the focus abruptly shifted.
Perhaps most interesting, is looking back to the headlines of early 2020, and noting how unaware we all were of what was to come.
In January, Domain claimed: ‘Australia’s property market set to keep rising but will peter out mid-year’.
ABC said: ‘House price bounce leaves first home buyers behind’.
The SMH read: ‘Sydney, Melbourne house values surge through start of year.’
But soon, the headlines began to change, with The Conversation reporting on 25 January, ‘The Wuhan Virus is now in Australia’, and shortly after, The Wall Street Journal publishing, ‘China’s real estate market is Coronavirus’ latest victim’.
In what may become a bit of a broken record, the major headlines from that point, of course revolved around Covid-19 and its affect on the economy and on the property market.
Most notable, of course, initially, were the restrictions placed on various Australian states and territories with regards to open homes and auctions.
Restrictions that in some locations, Melbourne primarily, caused the sales element of our industry to almost grind to a holt for several months.
With the pandemic ongoing, the next headlines focused not on sales, but on property management.
Amended legislation provided great opportunity for rental deferral, and, if you have watched our Q&A with HD Legal & Advisory, it also brought with it, the potential for greater accrual of rental debt.
The Financial Review reported, “At the height of the pandemic, more than a million tenancy agreements, residential and commercial, were in negotiation, with rents forgone, reduced or in dispute.”
The AFR continued on to note that agents were largely responsible for managing negotiations between parties, while at the same time navigating the harsh reality of plummeting business revenue.
On a slightly more positive note, the year has come to a close with Elite Agent sharing the latest Governance Institute of Australia’s Ethics Index, which indicates the perception of agents has improved throughout 2020.
While it is a great result given the challenges our industry faces when it comes to reputation, it may not be time to get excited just yet.
Despite the reported 21 percent jump (great news!), the index saw real estate agents move from a score of just -27 to -2.
With fire services at the other end of the ethics spectrum, scoring 82, our industry still has a lot of room for improvement.
Technology and real estate
Like most events, the PropTech Summit and larger international conferences highlighting real estate technology were either taken online or put on hold in 2020.
Covid tested emerging technologies like online auctions, online meeting platforms and encouraged agents to fully embrace Facebook inspections and showings.
At the same time, the pandemic, which negatively affected many industries, seemed to have the opposite effect on the property technology space.
New workflow management tools emerged and were funded by top agency groups; docusign really made itself at home in the sector; property management apps popped up everywhere, and even buyer’s agents saw new platforms introduced to help increase their reach and efficiency.
It would of course be remiss of us to not also mention National Property Data, the new owner of Red Square.
An Australian company formed at the height the pandemic buzz, National Property Data has big plans for enhancing the celebrated data platform and expanding it across Australia in 2021.
Legislation and real estate
Though Covid-19 resulted in new rules that provide greater leniency for tenants affected by the pandemic, other legislation introduced in 2020 was arguably as important.
For the run-down on real estate legislation in 2020, our HD Legal & Advisory live Q&A update has all the details.
- New legislation significantly changed licensing requirements in NSW, with Certificates of Registration (now known as Assistant Agents) valid only for four years, and Class 1 and Class 2 Licences taking the place of real estate licences. Assistant Agents are restricted in their activity, and only Class 1 Licence holders can be a licensee-in-charge and authorise withdrawal of monies from trust accounts.
- CPD requirements also changed, with Class 1 and 2 annual expectations increased.
- Amendments were introduced to mandate that a tenant must be sent a copy of the condition report prior to signing the lease.
- The Residential Tenancy Agreement was updated to include requirements that the landlord acknowledge the Landlord Information Statement prior to the lease being signed; a landlord’s contact details must be included in the agreement; and the agreement must disclose if a landlord lives interstate.
EAC and real estate
Needless to say, 2020 was not a year of breath-holding for EAC, but a year of action.
After releasing our new data and mapping update in late 2019, in mid-2020, we formally agreed to sell the platform and several other digital assets, to Australian company, National Property Data.
Later in the year, we appointed a new legal and compliance partner, HD Legal & Advisory, to man our compliance hotline and provide 30 minutes free advice per month to any and all members.
The team at HD Legal & Advisory has already proven itself an asset, hosting our first live, online Q&A, and working closely with us to develop a range of documents that will be rolled out to members in early 2021.
Following these changes, EAC has embarked on a mission to enhance our membership offering in 2021 and beyond. Kicking off with independent depth-interviews of several current and past members, our feedback and insights mission will culminate in a member-wide survey over coming months.
Using insights already gained, EAC has been working with key partners to shape a new and improved membership opportunity to be released next year. This will be strengthened by a range of new tools, resources and support services.
From the team at EAC to you, your team, and your families, we wish you a safe break, filled with the opportunity to catch up with family and friends you may have missed throughout the year.
We look forward to a New Year that is more promising, positive and lucrative for everyone, and to helping you build a stronger, more trusted and informed real estate industry.