The global pandemic has had a profound impact on all of us – personally and professionally. But as 2021 draws to a close, I for one am immensely proud to be part of a business that has adapted and evolved so well during this year and since the very start of the Covid-19 crisis.
When Coronavirus reached UK shores in spring 2020, our typical working model at De Villiers changed completely. We started remote working at a distance from our peers. We had to consider how – and when – to access premises for valuations during lockdown and to be absolutely sure the tenants and ourselves could be safe from what was then a fairly unknown disease. And of course our teams and clients had their own responsibilities and concerns to balance, from home-schooling to fears for family – especially vulnerable loved ones.
The safety of our team and our clients has been paramount throughout and we were quick to adopt stringent policies for PPE. Naturally we ensured clear communication with lenders if inspections had to be delayed due to isolation, illness or shielding. We also noted some lenience from various lenders where 100% inspection of multi-tenanted buildings was not possible which allowed cases to progress at pace, despite the difficulties. Thankfully this year the vaccine brought welcome relief although clearly there are still some challenges with inspection with which we are learning to cope.
There’s no doubt the initial lockdown resulted in a dip of transactional evidence and it’s evident on various auction sites that several lots weren’t offered owing to Covid. However, since restrictions were lifted, buyers quickly returned to the auction rooms, some with pent-up cash to spend, and the transactions started to flow once again.
We’re not out of the woods yet but the Commercial markets – while experiencing an adjustment – appear to be holding up. The end of the rent moratorium in March may prove a challenge for landlords whose tenants hand the keys back to them having potentially enjoyed no payment of rent without recourse. But many owners I know have worked with their tenants to agree short-term rent reductions to help them through.
Reflecting on these unprecedented times, I take pride in the professionalism and adaptability of my company and my Chartered Surveyor colleagues. In the face of an unpredictable and unsettling climate they have maintained incredibly high levels of service and I believe we can feel confident that valuations made during the pandemic were as robust as ever.
We are looking forward to 2022, especially as our hybrid model of getting back into the field combined with remote working now feels commonplace. Productivity is up, and there’s a lot to look forward to.
Wishing you all the very best for a successful year ahead.