Change is challenging, but also brings forward opportunities. Take a chance, it needs to be embraced rather than avoided.
I was always taught that managing change is one of the greatest challenges and can also pave the way for the greatest opportunities.
2020 has given us all so much change to manage that even after many years of practice it has at times seemed somewhat daunting. During the last decade we have been living through an extreme technological revolution which in itself has gradually been changing the way in which we live our lives and had has forced us into revisiting many of the things that we have taken for granted.
Working in the Marbella property market means that we are more often that not dealing with people over long distances. Vendors and buyers are very often not in the country during much of the sales process and negotiation of the sale. Advances in communication technology have made this very much easier with various forms of messaging available together VOIP telephone calls taking away the hidden costs of making a call. Our databases are now online which has meant that we have access to information wherever we are. Our landline telephones now work via sim cards so are no longer attached to the office wall by a cable.
All of this means that we can, in effect, work from anywhere at any time. Having said that in 2019 convention was still dictating that we went to an office each day, the doors of which we felt obliged to keep open during the prescribed hours. The fact is that the number of property sales which were achieved by people walking in the office doors had reduced considerably over the years to a point where it was now practically zero. We had recognised this and had already made the decision that having branch offices was no longer advantageous and that having sales people working from home was the best way forward. For the last 2 years our sales teams have been home working and this has allowed them a better lifestyle as they can more easily juggle the pressures of a job, which places us on call 7 days a week, and their private lives. Because they live throughout the western Costa del Sol it also means that geographically we have people on hand to show property in any location at short notice. The management of the business however always continued from an office. A side advantage of this has been lower fuel and transport costs with the consequential environmental advantages.
March 2020 turned everything on its head. The Covid-19 crisis and the fact that Spain instigated Europe’s most extreme lockdown saw us confined to our homes. Having said that, we were still able to work. With a computer we had access to all our files and databases, the office phones continued to ring and be answered on mobiles and to all intents and purposes, the business continued to function as normal. At that time we were not able to show properties but all other functions of our business were working normally.
As the lockdown eased we were faced with the choice whether to return to the office. We decided not to as it we were unsure if the easing of restrictions would be long term, and we were also keen to run as few risks as possible with regard to transmission of the virus and the office environment seems to us, to be an unnecessary risk.
We started to realise that for the future, in our business, that the office was completely unnecessary. We were functioning normally without it and we have therefore decided that we will not return to fulltime office working. We are, for the time being retaining office space to use as meeting rooms if necessary. This is probably only precautionary, as we normally meet our Vendor clients in their properties and buyers, either where they are staying or somewhere close by. They don’t need to take time to come to an office and find parking in area that they do not know etc.
Now we are coming to the end of this tumultuous year and Europe is seeing further lockdowns and restricted movement. Of course, this is having an effect on the property market as there are fewer people here to view property. We are delighted at the number of new enquiries coming through and it would appear that there is no shortage of people making the lifestyle changes which will eventually lead them to acquiring a home on the Costa del Sol. There is pent up demand building for the year ahead and we are ready to work with it. Virtual viewings are, of course, already available and during the summer months we sold 3 properties to people who viewed them on line form a virtual viewing. We were at the property with a camera and they watched from home, wherever that was. If you see the Costa de Sol property that you like and would like to arrange a virtual viewing we will be happy to do it for you. The virtual viewing will not be for everyone but it does give you a chance to have a more detailed look at a property that interests you and as has been shown for some buyers is enough to help them make the big decision.
Just as we are home working, so are many of our potential buyers and we are seeing an increased demand for properties that offer space for comfortable home working. Self-contained guest suites have suddenly become home offices!
Communication has always been the foundation of our business. Letters, e-mails and messages have never been the substitute for face to face meetings. Obviously in the current circumstances face to face meetings are not encouraged but we are finding that once again the available technology comes to the rescue and we are now having more video meetings with clients and collaborators. This helps us maintain the relationships and communication whilst at the same time helping us all to stay safe and to play our part in reducing the transmission of the Covid-19 virus.
If you are thinking of buying or selling a property in the Marbella area, or indeed anywhere on the Western Cost del Sol, as always we are here to help. You can call the mainline office number 0034 952 905 200, use the online chat or message on our Facebook page and we will get back to you as soon as we possibly can.
Change is challenging, but also brings forward opportunities. It needs to be embraced rather than avoided.