COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE FOR HAWAII PROPERTY MANAGERS COVID-19 MEANS MORE CLEANING, REMOTE
As we move into unprecedented times, we remain committed to our friends and clients to servicing them in the safest way possible. This article from Pacific Business News below highlights the ways realtors in Hawaii, including our ohana at JTC, are endeavoring to move forward with business safely during this time. Read more below:
Property managers are taking extra time to wipe down surfaces at apartment buildings and condominium units in Hawaii because of the coronavirus and have started doing remote showings of vacant apartments.
“The whole game is kind of changing,” said Ian Bigelow, chief operations officer at Locations, whose property management division manages 5,200 rental units. “We do consider ourselves providing shelter as an essential service.”
Like most companies in Hawaii — and across the United States — Locations has had to adjust its operations with office staff working from home.
For the buildings it manages, the staff has been focusing on cleaning and sanitizing public spaces, especially in the senior affordable rentals where residents are the most vulnerable to COVID-19.
“On the vacant-unit side we’ve been pushing pretty heavily to have the majority of our showings done remotely,” Bigelow said. “Through technology we’ve got specific services with lockboxes that can check in potential tenants remotely, and they can actually view the homes without any of our staff being present.”
When a remote showing isn’t possible, a staff member will show the apartment and take the precautions of wiping down surfaces and door handles before and after each appointment, he said.
Not that there are many showings, however. “The demand has definitely slowed down fairly dramatically,” Bigelow said. “We are still having showings [though] — there are some life circumstances people can’t get away from. “Overall a lot people are pausing their plans,” he said. “We have had tenants cancel their move-outs because it’s easier to shelter in place without having to relocate.”
For tenants struggling to pay rent after being furloughed or laid off, Bigelow said Locations will waive late fees “at least for April and most likely May” and will not pursue evictions, “at least in the immediate future.”
A majority of the landlords Locations works with have been understanding of their tenants’ situations, but Bigelow noted that some of them also have mortgages to pay.
Tricia Nekota, president of the Honolulu Board of Realtors, also pointed out that the owners of a lot of apartments in Honolulu are seniors who rely on rents for income. “What’s going to happen to them if [the apartment is] vacant?,” she said.
Honolulu Board of Realtors CEO Suzanne Young said people are understanding what the nation is facing with the coronavirus and that “everybody needs to work together.”
“It’s really important that if people are facing these hardships, whether it’s their mortgage or paying their rent, they need to reach out to their lender, they need to reach out to their property manager, their landlord,” she said. “And don't wait have that discussion because perhaps payment plans can be put out there, but it's important for them not to be afraid to make the call.”