COVID-19 And The Upper Northern Beaches Property Market

By Jonathan Fletcher

There is no doubt the impact of the coronavirus has affected us all. It has been an unexpected and sudden change, transforming the way we live and work.

Here’s where we’re at as far as buying and selling in the current local market.

How the Upper Northern Beaches property market is responding to COVID-19

As we wrote in our recent local market insights, before COVID-19 hit, the Sydney property market was strong. Now as we approach the middle of April in the midst of an economic crisis we have seen a dramatic drop in Sydney’s overall auction clearance rate which was down to to 39% last weekend compared to 52% this time last year and 66% two weeks prior. Continuing from late last year current stock remains low. However, other numbers are still looking very strong for Avalon Beach for example the average median house price today is in excess of $2 million which is a 4.7% increase on February’s $1.91 million median house price.

Despite the dip in consumer confidence during these uncertain times, we’ve still been selling many properties above their reserve prices mostly by private treaty or off-market.

Over the last two weeks the team have sold several properties including 36 Irrubel Road, Newport and 108 Whale Beach Road, Whale Beach

While it’s premature to forecast the long term impact this pandemic will have on our property market, we can see it is not as volatile as the share market and we’re hopeful it won’t suffer the same losses as lower stock levels will reduce any gap between supply and demand.

How the real estate industry is adapting to COVID-19

It would be fair to say that most industries across Australia have had to adjust the way they conduct business during this time and the Real Estate industry is no exception.

Protecting the Health and safety of people is our priority and as real estate agents we must comply with the government’s regulations around social distancing.

Over the last few weeks our adaptations have mainly been focused around the logistical challenges of social distancing. We have successfully managed to amend protocol with how we facilitate buying and selling property for our clients.

How the buying and selling process has been amended

Business is forging ahead as usual but with adapted processes. Here is an outline –

OPEN HOMES – All open home inspections are now by private appointment only. As social gatherings are limited to two people we can only show one person through a property at any one time (ie one of us plus one prospective buyer). There is no shaking hands and a 1.5-metre distance must be kept between everyone. All the properties we show are well-ventilated and hand sanitizer is available on entry.

VIRTUAL TOURS – Virtual tours are able to give prospective buyers a sense of how a property feels even when they’re not physically there. A virtual tour can be as simple as an agent doing a walk through of a property on their mobile phone.

AUCTIONS – Public Auctions are currently banned but thanks to technology we can still successfully auction properties online. Prospective buyers can register online and bid online or over the phone. For us, it’s common to have buyers bid via phone or online if they’re overseas, interstate or simply want to be more anonymous, so it’s something we’re already quite used to. Online auctions can also be streamed in real time.

PRIVATE TREATY – Other than the social distancing rules around open home inspections, private treaty sales are unaffected by any changes, so we can all proceed as normal with the sales process.

EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST – As an alternative to auctions, we continue to sell properties by expressions of interest, which acts as a more considered tendering process in the style of a silent auction.

OFF-MARKET SALES – have always been an important part of our business. We continue to connect buyers and sellers in this way during COVID-19.

Buyers – what you need to know

Despite these uncertain times, if you are financially ready, this is not a bad time to buy. Interest rates are at an all time low and the banks are lending.

We still have a really good number of properties listed and more are coming onto the market. We are continuing to list an array of different types of property from entry-level properties to luxury homes.

Yes, open homes will be different, but access to viewing by private appointment continues and we are working week-long to help you find and purchase the property you are looking for.

This is also a great time to register for off-market properties, there are more coming on every week.

Sellers – what you need to know

There are still many buyers energised and ready to buy. We’re working with a lot of buyers who are still actively looking for property. Many buyers and investors want to take advantage of the historical low-interest rates, whether its for a home or an investment – the property market is proving safer than investing into the unstable stock market. Buyers are still out there and very keen to purchase.

We appreciate the concerns that many prospective sellers have about selling during COVID-19. It’s always a good idea for sellers to do their research and consult a financial advisor, mortgage broker and real estate agent to help make the best good decisions around the timing of selling.

In this changing market, it’s incredibly important to find and work with an agent who you trust and that has exceptional communication skills. Local experience and knowledge in the local market is also invaluable in bringing a perspective that can benefit your sale or purchase.

If you’re looking to sell your property in the Upper Northern Beaches during these uncertain times please contact me today and I will share with you our most up to date advice and strategies for selling successfully.