By PHILIP CHANDLER
The new boss of a 25-year-old Queenstown real estate business believes its early adoption of technology has paid off in these Covid-affected times.
Harcourts Queenstown managing director Warwick Osborne, who’s taken over following Kelvin Collins’ retirement, says the company’s advanced and extensive digital presence and systems meant it was ‘‘fast out of the blocks’’ post-lockdown.
‘‘We saw lockdown as an opportunity to communicate with our clients very proactively.
‘‘The pandemic’s demonstrated that our early adoption of Facetime, Facebook lives, videos and intricate algorithms via the Harcourts digital suite to connect with buyers has paid off, along with the fact we’ve been livestreaming auctions since 2015.’’
Osborne, who joined Harcourts Queenstown in 2002, says the company — which has six offices across Otago — entered into the digital space three-and-a-half years ago, resourcing accordingly.
However, it’s also taken advantage of being part of an international brand with proven systems and procedures, he says.
‘‘We’ve partnered with key specialists in the technology and digital fields to keep us moving forward.’’
During the lockdown, he says agents took part in up to 32 international webinars to upskill themselves.
‘‘It was training, it was mindset, all sorts of things.’’
Speakers included All Blacks mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka.
‘‘Fundamentally, people had to come to a property, historically.
‘‘And then Covid turned that on its head, and people didn’t have to come to the property, we can use technology to take a property to them, so they can then make an informed decision.’’
Online technology, he adds, also means the company can easily cope with a wave of new compliance requirements such as the Healthy Homes Act and the REA Privacy Act.
Osborne, whose company’s celebrating its first quarter century this month, says the local office has also developed ‘‘market-leading expertise’’ in project-marketing for many different developments.
These range from residential multi-stage developments and high-end properties to smaller, boutique projects.
Aside from technological and marketing expertise, Osborne’s proudest of his company’s emphasis on workplace culture — ‘‘especially important in times like this’’.
‘‘We’ve created a very driven, supportive and team culture within the business which includes admin staff and consultants, encouraging people to be the best they can be and reach their full potential.
‘‘Vendors aren’t just working with one agent, they’re being supported by an entire team effort to get the best outcome.’’
Like other local realtors, Osborne’s been pleasantly surprised by business levels since lockdown.
‘‘People are pivoting in their lives, the borders are closed, there’s $10 billion
that can’t go overseas, and Queenstown is becoming more and more a lifestyle destination.’’