Real estate agents focus on reskilling

NEW DELHI: Real estate agents have started reskilling themselves using online classes, as they brace themselves for a sharp dip in sales and a spike in legal tussles in the wake of Covid-19 crisis, said people aware of the matter.

With no commercial or residential deals closing due to the lockdown, agents are keen to learn about the intricacies of social media marketing and also various legal provisions such as force majeure that they will have to grapple with later, said the people. Force majeure clause protects companies in the event of unforeseen circumstances that prevent them for fulfilling the contracts.

More than 50 real estate agents from the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) recently connected remotely to understand how to manage the immediate challenges emanating from the lockdown. They were among those who decided to attend two sessions a week to sharpen their skills.

“Earlier, there was no time to learn the latest marketing tactics. But now, since we have time, we are conducting workshops of agents twice a week,” said Kshitij Nagpal, president, Association of Property Professionals (APP), Delhi-NCR. “International trainers are helping us in trends like guerrilla marketing and Instagram marketing. It’s a challenge to keep customers engaged but we have to do it.”

A number of companies are now seeking to declare force majeure since business has been hit hard due to the lockdown. The broker community rarely paid attention to such provisions in the contracts because no such occasion arose in recent years.

“In-depth knowledge of force majeure can be really beneficial for a lot of people involved in the real estate business, as they can better understand their rights as well as the rights of tenants or buyers,” said Nagpal.

Simranjeet Singh, partner, Athena Legal, said: “The importance of force majeure clause is paramount. A lease agreement governs the relationship between the contracting parties. Thus, if there is a force majeure clause in the agreement then the same would have to be enforced in terms of the said clause.”

Most brokers expect an increase in litigation in coming days as projects get delayed due to the delay in construction and thus handover.

According to Piyush Singh, partner, PSP Legal, while a developer can seek legal extension for pending real estate projects, a buyer can delay the payment or opt out of booking, citing frustration of the contract. “While a landlord can cite force majeure for increasing maintenance or common area maintenance charges for sanitisation, a tenant can cite it for withholding rent,” he said.


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