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Thomas Baldwin uses pioneering real estate technology during COVID-19

Well-known Cairns real estate agents Carol Thomas and Morganne Baldwin established the innovative agency last year, breaking with the real estate tradition of having a shopfront, instead providing a highly-responsive ‘virtual office’ for its clients.

In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Thomas Baldwin has enhanced this ground-breaking approach by introducing:

  • Off-market sales (selling and leasing properties without advertising)

  • Paperless property management and sales

  • Flexible working hours (evenings and weekends for negotiations and contracts)

  • Virtual open homes, and video conference/FaceTime meetings with clients.

Morganne said the virtual office and paperless approach had delivered instant results, with a median sale price of $489,000 for Thomas Baldwin compared to $420,000 in Cairns (figures courtesy of Core Logic) since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, as well as averaging just five days on market for each rental on its books.

At Thomas Baldwin we put health above all else, so with many of us taking care and working remotely, we were really excited to let our local buyers, sellers, landlords and renters know that shopping for or selling or leasing their home didn’t need to stop,” she said.

Being a paperless and remote operating business serves us all well at this current time, and gives our clients the benefit of knowing we have the experience to continue business.

“For example, a service we offer that people do not always know about is off market sales. That means we have sold properties in the last 30 days without even having to advertise.

“Long-term clients and a very structured process enables our team to build great buyer relationships, and matches them to property we have that the public cannot see.

“This also includes our rentals – for example, we recently had a lease put in place that did not need to be advertised.

“As we are flexible enough to do things differently at Thomas Baldwin, the last rental agreement was signed over a weekend which meant the tenant could move quickly and the landlord was very happy.”

Last year, the agency celebrated being Cairns’ first ever shopfront-free and paperless real estate agency with record-breaking sales figures in its first quarter of business.

Thomas Baldwin’s success has seen experienced Cairns real estate agent Anna Waller join the team, with recruitment already under way for another professional to join the agency.

Carol said Thomas Baldwin is now also offering property management with the boutique difference, and using Real Estate Institute Queensland (REIQ) technology to support the paperless way.

“The new, safe and regulated electronic contract signature platform supported by the REIQ has been a game changer for the real estate industry,” she said.

“The paperless element means it’s really easy and very quick for all parties to sign contracts, sometimes in as little as 15 minutes, all in a safe and secure environment, especially important during the current coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s no longer a need to have your agent in your home for lengthy periods, and we’re proud to be one of the few Cairns real estate agencies using this leap forward in technology.”

Carol said their sales and rental results were justification that Thomas Baldwin’s modern, virtual office approach –so far only seen in larger cities in Australia – ensured the best results for buyers and sellers, as well as landlords.

“We’re proud to be pioneers in the Cairns region in the electronic way of doing business with a remote office and flexible working hours, particularly in the current COVID-19 situation,” said Carol.

“’Boutique’ is all about personalised service. There’s no 9 to 5 with us, you don’t get shipped around among agents, and you don’t need to wait a whole weekend to hear from us or have a contract signed.”

Morganne said the business had previously been holding virtual buyer inspections for interstate prospective buyers, but the COVID-19 pandemic had now extended that approach to local buyers.

“Our experience in delivering virtual open homes for buyers outside of the Cairns region meant we were easily able to incorporate this strategy into our weekly open homes for all prospective buyers and sellers,” she said.

“Obviously these are uncertain times, but it’s amazing how quickly we're all adapting to the new 'normal'.

“At Thomas Baldwin, options for virtual walk throughs and private inspections are business as usual, and now we’ve extended that to become the norm. What we do hasn't changed, just how we do it. We aim to give our clients certainty in uncertain times.”

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