PropertyGuru eases burden on developers with TechCare amid Covid-19 pandemic

PropertyGuru, Asia’s largest property technology company, has launched PropertyGuru TechCare to lessen the challenges faced by property developers in Malaysia due to the impact of Covid-19 and the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Analysts projected weaker results in coming quarters for industry players as the closure of sales gallery and non-critical construction activities affects transactions and incoming inventory.

An estimated 25,000 real estate agents nationwide have also seen viewing and physical listing activities grinding to a halt.

Leveraging on its domestic reach of 3.5 million monthly web visits, PropertyGuru TechCare is timely and tailored to developer needs during this critical period, as more and more Malaysians go online to find information on homes and properties.

The launch follows on the recent introduction of its GuruCare suite of initiatives for agents.

Projected impact on transaction volumes up to 30 percent

Sheldon Fernandez, Country Manager, PropertyGuru Malaysia, points out that conservatively, the Covid-19 outbreak and MCO may see property transaction volumes decline in the short term by up to 30 percent, as seen in 1998, during the Asian financial crisis and Nipah virus outbreak.

Sheldon Fernandez, Country Manager, PropertyGuru Malaysia

“These numbers are reflected in the US, which has already seen mortgage applications drop by 30%,” Sheldon Fernandez, Country Manager, PropertyGuru Malaysia says.

“Impacts are being felt by Malaysians from every walk of life, not just by developers and agents, but by businesses across the board and friends and family members as well,” he adds.

Hence, with TechCare, PropertyGuru hopes to do its part in helping Malaysia get through this difficult time.

Moves such as Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM’s) reduction of the Statutory Reserve Requirement Ratio to 2 percent moratorium on financing payments and OPR revision as well as the government’s revision to voluntary EPF contribution guidelines have eased financing concerns for property seekers to a large degree.

As yet, visibility for developers and agents is at its lowest ebb.

PropertyGuru TechCare helps developers maintain market engagement while streamlining costs through three initiatives: Double the Value, Market Continuity Offer (MCO) and PropTech Relief Package.

Through these initiatives, PropertyGuru aims to support developers in Malaysia through this critical period, as weakened consumer sentiment is projected to persist through H2 2020.

While unbilled sales may buffer some industry players, those with high gearing may have challenges sustaining operations until the market’s projected recovery in 2021.

PropTech as a differentiator in challenging times

The introduction of PropertyGuru TechCare underscores the group’s commitment to PropTech as the solution to many of the property industry’s underlying issues.

According to Fernandez, there will always be a need for the human touch in the property journey, as well as physical showrooms and site visits.

“The online paradigm, however, is more relevant than ever today,” he says, adding that virtual tours, for example, help property seekers evaluate a unit when they are unable to visit it in person.

By leveraging on PropTech, TechCare delivers high-level market engagement for developers. It will also be supported by the upcoming launch of an industry webinar series bringing together all real estate stakeholders and key opinion leaders (KOLs) to address industry issues.

To further enhance the property browsing experience and its sales efficiency, developers that are investing in online sales platforms such as FastKey (www.propertygurugroup.com/fastkey/) will have the advantage to further engage their lead prospects during such social distancing periods.

“The need for digital uptake is further underscored by the impact of the MCO on industry players. Developers with online presences will be better prepared to weather the storm, and better positioned to carve a niche for themselves in the new operating landscape moving forward,” Fernandez says.

This landscape includes a potential influx of property queries as pent-up demand from the MCO period reasserts itself following a sharp market recovery.

This pattern has been seen in historic transaction volumes during years of recession and previous viral outbreaks, as tracked by the National Property Information Centre.

The tendency for the property market to “bounce back” following crisis years has been attributed to investor activity as they restructure portfolios, with properties as an attractive asset class.

“As the property market adjusts to the new paradigm moving forward, our role in supporting property developers and home seekers in the digital space is more crucial than ever before, Fernandez concludes.

“Our mission is to help people, whether they’re home seekers, investors or developers, make confident property decisions.”

In Malaysia, investors account for 47 percent of property transactions, as shown by the PropertyGuru Malaysia Consumer Sentiment Study H1 2020.

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