The Coronavirus pandemic and the national lockdown continue to place a strain on businesses and the greater economy, even as restrictions are eased, and the property market is expected to be among those hardest hit. While the current situation may lead to some doors closing, Peter Raine, Head of Software Release Management, Online Training and Facilities and Infrastructure, for LexisNexis South Africa, believes there are also windows of opportunity for property professionals over this period.
He says, “There is no denying that this is a dire situation. Globally, the pandemic has led to a drop in real estate transactions due to restrictions on movement and business operations that have been categorised as non-essential. Locally, a positive step forward is the reopening of the Deeds Office as an essential service under Level 4, which could see the limited reopening of other role players, such as municipalities.”
Raine says recent history and experience have proven that there is always a rebound after a crisis and property transactions can be expected to pick up again after this economic turmoil.
“Conveyancers and budding conveyancers should, therefore, use this potential downtime to ensure they are well prepared for a post-COVID-19 world and can minimise the long-term impact on their operations,” says Raine.
He outlines five windows of opportunity for the sector:
1. Get creative
The national lockdown has seen the acceleration of certain industry trends and practitioners need to get creative as they embrace these shifts and evolving working habits, including operating remotely and making greater use of online tools and new technology that facilitates electronic transactions.
2. Plan ahead
Those within the conveyancing sector can use this time to develop their business and career goals and to devise recovery plans that will allow them to be quick off the mark once things return to normal.
3. Invest in yourself
Individuals can also use any idle time to invest in themselves, exploring opportunities for e-learning during the lockdown. Working individuals keen to increase their skill sets, such as entry level secretaries with limited exposure to the field of conveyancing and those new to conveyancing, or school leavers with matric qualifications eager to pursue a career in this space, can for example benefit from the six-week self-paced e-learning course, A brief introduction to conveyancing in South Africa.
Through interactive tutorials and videos, the course offers practical and targeted content and relevant insights into the role of the conveyancer, the processes involved in transferring property ownership, as well as the Lexis Convey and Lexis WinDeed applications that play a pivotal role in this process and are currently used by the majority of conveyancing firms. Users will receive an official print-ready Certificate on completion of all seven course modules and if they score 70% or more in each of the course assessments.
The course was developed by registered SASSETA Assessor and national course facilitator for the Black Conveyancers Association Training Academy, Tasneem Kanjee, who has over 15 years conveyancing experience and also lectures at the South African Law School, equipping legal support staff with the relevant skills to succeed in the conveyancing profession. There is also a 20% discount on the course until the end of May 2020. Contact [email protected] for more info.
4. Go digital
There is an opportunity for municipalities to make greater use of digital platforms to fast-track the processing of clearance certificates and overcome administrative hurdles. Options include Lexis RatesClearance ®, which facilitates the speedy and efficient turnaround of the critical rates clearance figures and certificates issued by the local municipality, through a simple and secure online user interface. To circumvent the hassles of physically signing a document during lockdown, electronic documents and e-signatures can also be facilitated through platforms such as Lexis Sign ®, which use advanced digital software that provides total security, document integrity and indisputable authenticity.
5. Anticipate an upswing
With interest rates presently at historic lows, brick and mortar assets are an attractive option and the post-Covid-19 period is going to be an opportune time to scoop up bargain properties at record prices, creating a pipeline of opportunities for conveyancers and other property professionals. Financial institutions may relax lending criteria and there could be a flood of properties expected to hit the market. Raine concludes, “There will be life after lockdown and we want to support professionals to ensure that their long-term survival and success helps our economy to recover once the lockdown is over.”
To access the LexisNexis COVID-19 Free Resource Centre, visit: https://www.lexisnexis.co.za/news-and-insights/covid-19-resource-centre