Local Business

Real estate deals continue to be processed

  • Business still progressing: Sharon Cranfield

Real estate transactions in play when the Covid-19 pandemic reached Bermuda continue to be processed, a leading realtor said yesterday.

Sharon Cranfield, chair of the real estate division at the Chamber of Commerce said: “Sales transactions are progressing. Offers are going to contract, planning searches for sales are being facilitated, law firms are doing conveyances and banks are processing mortgage applications.”

Those deals, Ms Cranfield said, involve “transactions that have been in the works for a while” where an offer has been accepted, and lawyers have been retained to help complete the transaction.

She added that the showing of properties that remain for sale or rent has been impacted by Covid-19.

The real estate division of the Chamber sent a directive to agents and brokers on Friday to recommend that they not show homes, or have direct contact with customers, until government guidelines on contact, businesses and gathering restrictions are relaxed.

Some real estate agencies had already instituted such a policy before the directive, Ms Cranfield said.

She added that much real estate work can be done without meeting face-to-face.

“Agents and brokers are still able to do research, reach out to customers and clients via social media and phone and show virtual walk-throughs of homes without physically visiting properties or people,” she said.

Ms Cranfield encouraged people to be proactive in communicating with their lenders should their income be compromised by the impact of Covid-19.

She also urged people to continue to view property listings online, and contact realtors with any questions they might have about properties that are advertised.

Peter Goodall, who runs the Property Skipper website that features properties for sale and rent, said traffic to the site is down 15 per cent in March, year-over-year, after “pretty much near record months” in January and February.

He said a lack of new inventory on the site is, in part, responsible for the slowdown.

A person who registers on Property Skipper, creating an account, can set up a tailored alert so that they are made aware of any properties added to the site that fit their specifications.

Mr Goodall said the number of property alerts sent to people looking to buy or rent property has dropped from more than 1,000 each day to 400.

He said: “Alerts can trigger traffic to the website as people see a property that catches their eye. We are seeing website traffic back to the levels we probably had in December.

“For a website like ours, new inventory is incredibly important at driving the traffic.”

However, Mr Goodall said he was still seeing sales enquiries made via Property Skipper.

He also noted a reduction in traffic to the long-term rental section of the website.

“Property Skipper is the main place that expats look if they are moving to the island,” he said. “Any expat worker who was in the pipeline is on hold until flights are operating again.”

Mr Goodall added: “The executive rental market will naturally be slow until the flow of expats returns back to the market.”