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A four-point response plan to flooding crisis: McGrath Paddington

When it became evident clients of the McGrath Paddington, Wilston and New Farm offices would be among those directly impacted by rising flood waters, the real estate team quickly sprang into action.

McGrath’s Queensland General Manager of Sales, Charles Higgins explained the response revolved around a four-point plan to ‘assess’, ‘support’, ‘communicate’, and ‘find solutions’.

That simple mantra was designed to help the team work through what was expected to be a large volume of property damage, while also supporting staff and aiding the community.

And the team of more than 60 sales agents and property managers have been utilising that mantra ever since.

Assess

Speaking to Elite Agent on Tuesday, Mr Higgins noted it remained unclear exactly how many rental and sales properties had suffered damage and what the extent of that damage might be.

“We won’t fully understand for the next couple of days,” he said.

“Our main focus is to gain an understanding of what’s happening out there, because in some cases there’s no access, and in other situations, people can’t ring.”

The immediate priority was communicating with as many clients as possible and assisting wherever they could.

Mr Higgins noted luckily the three McGrath offices had escaped major damage, but both Wilston and New Farm were temporarily closed at that stage because they could not be accessed.

In the interim, the management team remained in close communication with staff who were proactively contacting tenants, landlords and property owners.

The aim was to find out who was affected, how extensive the damage was and provide the support and solutions required.

“That’s what’s going on across the board,” Mr Higgins explained.

“We have emails, texts, videos and phone calls going out to vendors, landlords, tenants and clients.”

Hugo and Harriet Higgins assessing the floodwaters at Albion.

Support

The support component of McGrath’s strategy is multi-pronged, with management supporting staff, while staff support clients and the agency in general also supports the wider community.

Mr Higgins noted he had spent Tuesday morning mopping mud out of a local café in between phone calls with his team.

“It’s up to me to be there for the team, because things are uncertain at the moment,” he said.

“There’s so much going on that it can get quite hectic.”

He said landlords, tenants, buyers and sellers were all looking to their local agents for guidance, and the team was working to proactively meet their needs.

“Even people in the community are turning to us asking ‘what’s going to happen here?’. For people who were planning to come to market, we’re saying let the water subside and then we’ll take the next step.”

McGrath Paddington’s Tim Hopgood offers his support in Nundah.

Communicate

Proactive communication has been key to the agency’s response strategy. It includes email, text, phone calls and even videos about what people should expect will happen next.

Internally, the management team is creating messaging that can then be forwarded.

“We have emails and texts that we are then on-sending to vendors, landlords, tenants and other clients,” Mr Higgins said.

Find solutions

Finding solutions is possibly the most challenging component of the plan, but the McGrath team is working hard to create a suitable fix for every scenario.

In property management, the team is actively attempting to secure alternative accommodation where required, including working with tenants to ensure they have emergency accommodation or family and friends that they can stay with.

Next the attention will turn to working with landlords and assisting with insurance claims.   

 “At the moment property managers are also contacting landlords to let them know we are still at a stage of surveying any damage,” Mr Higgins said.

When it comes to flood-affected properties under contract, he said sales agents were working with both buyers and sellers to determine what needed to happen next, including how insurance claims would be handled and what needed to occur on settlement date.

“When a property is unconditional, it can be a big challenge to work out who’s moving in and who’s moving out,” Mr Higgins said.

“When that property is uninhabitable, we’re working with buyers and sellers to find a suitable solution.”

With some long days ahead, Mr Higgins said the teams across the three offices remained focused on supporting both their clients and the community at large.

“We are trying to offer support wherever it’s needed and we’re also just getting out and helping in the community wherever we can,” he said.

“We’re getting through this together and we are confident we will emerge as a stronger community.”

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Cassandra Charlesworth

Cassandra Charlesworth is a features writer for Elite Agent Magazine with over 15 years’ journalism experience in metropolitan and regional newsrooms. She has a specialist interest in real estate, tech disruption and a good old-fashioned “yarn”.