Lockdown likely to drag on

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With the latest daily case numbers soaring to 112 on Monday, it has become increasingly unlikely that Sydney’s extended lockdown will end this Friday as planned. Despite the worsening situation, many Sydney brokers have taken the stay-at-home orders in their stride.

“It’s largely business as usual,” 1st Street Financial mortgage advisor Greg Bloom told MPA. “I haven’t had any clients that have had issues – or friends or family. I think everyone’s just getting on with it.”

The Sydney broker said the current lockdown was vastly different to the one the entire country faced when COVID first hit its shores last year.

“Last lockdown was dominated by three calls a day with clients who were firing people and people who were going on to deferral programs,” he said. “You felt like a psychologist for most of it and that was probably the hardest part of my job since becoming a broker 10 years ago.”

This time around, “people are still transacting and valuations are still taking place,” he said. “The world has changed, and we’ve adapted. This is the new normal – whether it’s in the office or remote, it’s still the same job.”

Read more: Impact of Sydney lockdown on the mortgage industry

According to FBAA managing director Peter White AM, while the mental health of some brokers has been impacted by the lockdown, a lot of brokers have weathered the storm well thanks to prior experience.

“I think the first round of lockdowns were the hardest,” he said. “We’ve learnt to use our technology better, our communication better and that simple piece of staying in touch with your mates better. That helps get people through.

“Unfortunately, this will probably extend longer than what people would like in the current environment today. It’s what we’ve got to go through and deal with.”

He offered the following advice for getting through the lockdown.

“Staying connected with people is very important,” he said. “I know last year people were saying they were all Zoomed out, but unfortunately when you have restrictions to your mobility, if you’ve only got a phone or a screen to stay in touch with people, it’s better to use them in the most effective manner and that’s generally through a screen so you can see one another.”

He also called for BDMs and brokers to be patient with one another.

“Times will get tense, things will become difficult – probably protracted again,” he said. “We just need to be cognizant that everybody in Sydney and its broader metro areas are going through the same thing.”

He said sticking to a schedule also helped in getting through a lockdown.

With some businesses unlikely to recover if the lockdown is extended a second time, White said it was important for brokers to reach out to their SME clients and point them in the direction of any assistance they may be eligible to receive.

Read next: A second lockdown extension could “wipe out” businesses

“We’ve got to watch carefully what the state government does in terms of assistance programs,” he said. “Having that forefront of knowledge and being on the front foot of initiative will be extremely helpful for SME clients.”

Kate McIntyreKate McIntyre is an online writer for Mortgage Professional Australia. She has a wealth of experience as a storyteller and journalist for a range of leading media outlets, particularly in real estate, property investing and finance. She loves uncovering the heart behind every story and aims to inspire others through the artful simplicity of well-written words.
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