Post-lockdown property explosion predicted for Canberra By Nicole Cox

Canberra real estate agents have predicted an explosive post-lockdown property market, as hesitant vendors finally list properties for sale, potentially sparking a buyer frenzy.
Post-lockdown property explosion predicted for Canberra     By Nicole Cox
Agents say vendors have shown increasing reluctance to sign up their homes for sale amid the ongoing lockdown in the national capital, despite robust competition from a bevy of eager buyers. 

Tight rental conditions and the threat of homelessness and displacement have also contributed to prospective sellers reassessing their sales time frames, they say. 

The ACT government on Tuesday extended the lockdown measures until midnight on Friday 17 September, with some easing of certain rules. 

Chief Minister Andrew Barr initially called a snap seven-day lockdown from 12 August, which has been gradually extended. 

Under the lockdown, open inspections are not permitted in person and auction events have been cancelled, but virtual viewings and online auctions are allowed. 

The rules now allow agents to bring new properties to market, building and pest inspections to be conducted and photography for homes to be listed for sale. 

A partial reopening of the construction sector will start from this Friday (3 September) and residential construction is scheduled to recommence from 10 September “subject to the public health advice at the time”. 

Josh Morrissey, director at HIVE – Canberra, said many potential buyers and sellers were in lockdown limbo, but properties were still selling, adding further heat to the already hot Canberra market. 

“It’s unpredictable, uncertain times but we are still transacting. It’s pretty evident that the property market is still hot. We’re still transacting at a pretty high return for the amount of stock that we’ve got,” Mr Morrissey said. 

“We’re seeing a lot of big pre-auction offers and a lot of records being broken because people are happier to pay a premium for circumstance than a premium for property, which is a difference in the landscape.” 

Mr Morrissey said people were in a “holding pattern”. 

“People are getting displaced. You’ve got landlords that are moving interstate that are carrying a mortgage and a rental that are now getting forced onto the market when probably they didn’t want to.” 

He said buyers and sellers were having to adapt to the different circumstances. 

“The positive is that everyone is really fluid with the digital and online touchpoints and platforms. Every buyer we’ve had is really comfortable purchasing sight unseen. 

“It’s great for the sellers because they’re getting a great price but it’s unfortunate for the buyers being put in that position because no one likes to be squeezed like that.” 

Blackshaw managing director Andrew Chamberlain said the restrictions had been challenging. 

“As soon as the lockdown was called, all of the auctions went online. There was virtually a 100% clearance rate for those properties that went under the hammer that still had that window of exposure to the market pre-lockdown. Obviously, that window has closed now,” Mr Chamberlain said. 

“Now we can get new listings on the market, but most people are choosing not to (list) right now,” he said. 

“We aren’t expecting people are going to be making buying decisions without seeing the property because we can’t physically take people through a property one-on-one, we can’t even do a Facetime walk-through with a buyer.” 

But Mr Chamberlain said Blackshaw had seen extremely high interest in off-the-plan sales. 

“Our project marketing guys have been going gangbusters because their buyers buy sight unseen anyway. We would be close to our best month ever in project marketing sales for August, most of which was during lockdown,” he said. 

Mr Chamberlain noted listings had fallen further during the lockdown. 

“When we went into lockdown, we were approximately 20% down on the number of listings on the market compared to the same time last year, and we have plummeted since then. We could be 40% lower right now than we were this time last year in terms of listings on the market. It’s hurting in terms of getting new listings online. 

“We’re in a really unnatural situation in the market at the moment where the pent-up demand is increasing, the supply is decreasing and it’s going to be a very interesting place once lockdown is lifted.” 

James Carter, managing director of Carter & Co – Braddon, said becoming displaced or homeless was at the forefront of the minds of potential sellers with a tightening across both the rental and sales markets. 

“A real estate agent will tell you any time is a good time to sell, and the market is really good at the moment, but we have been restricted due to public health orders,” Mr Carter said. 

“With this lockdown, especially in Canberra, there is a major concern about the timing of people’s sales and the potential for people to be confronted with homelessness and situations where there are not enough rental properties between buying and selling.” 

But Mr Carter said there was still keen interest from buyers willing to make offers on properties sight unseen. 

“Of the properties we have on the market we are still seeing a lot of interest,” he said. 

“We had 20b Rosenberg Street, Throsby, and with no inspections we generated something like 22 offers in three days. 

“Obviously, there’s a shortage of stock but even I was surprised at the level of interest due to lockdown and people not being able to inspect properties. To have 22 offers for one property, it goes to show there is not enough stock on the market and people are just desperate to have something.” 

How to view property safely in these challenging times 

Your health and safety remains the top priority at this time.
Here are a few of simple suggestion based on government guidelines to reassure you when viewing a property or allowing others into your home for viewings. 
 If you’re a buyer or renter going on viewings: 

*You’ve no-doubt been keenly waiting for weeks to go and view properties you’ve had your eye on and now you can begin. 
 *Follow simple guidance to ensure your viewing goes as smoothly and as safely as possible: 

*Protecting yourself, those in the property you’re viewing and of course the agent conducting the viewing. 
Whether it’s on your way to a viewing, or once you get there, remember these four key pieces of advice from the government: 

*Maintain a 2m distance from anyone you aren’t living with – we know this can be tough at times, but it’s possible. If you ever forget what 2m looks like, imagine taking two long strides, or visualising the height of your front door 

*Wash your hands regularly (and thoroughly) and avoid touching your face – we’ve all got the dry hands to prove it, but this remains one of the most important pieces of guidance right now to help  prevent the spread of coronavirus 

*Minimise contact with surfaces outside of your home – this can be hard as we touch so many things throughout the day, often without thinking about it. Common things include door handles, lift buttons and ‘stop’ buttons on the bus 

*Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow always, and do not drop used tissues anywhere, put them in the nearest bin or take them home to dispose of please.
Why not start with an online viewing, if available? 
You still should to view the property in person, before being able to proceed with an offer, but it’s a great place to start. Particularly helpful if you’re not entirely sure whether it’s suitable for you, it’s also one less journey you’ll need to make. If you’d still like the view the property, the agent will be pleased to know you’re serious. 
Before the viewing 
In line with government guidance, anyone experiencing coronavirus symptoms should go to your nearest Covid testing centre to be checked or at the very least staying at home and self-isolating to help prevent further spread of the disease. 
To give confidence to all parties present at the viewing that this guidance is being followed, and to help the agent manage the viewing in the most efficient safest way possible, you should be asked to complete a handful of questions before your viewing such as: 

*Has anyone in your household had COVID-19 

*Has anyone in your household displayed COVID-19 symptoms or not yet completed a required period of household self-isolation 

*Are you in the high-risk category 

*Have you recently returned from a trip interstate or overseas 
 The current owner, or tenants, of the property you’re going to view should have also completed these questions, as will the agent if they’ll be present on the viewing, so don’t be afraid to check with the agent on this if it’s a concern. 
We also recommend asking the agent as many questions as possible before the viewing, to help save time in the viewing property itself. 
 Preparing for the viewing 
 Most of us will have given our homes a good deep clean before opening the doors to prospective buyers, as part of wanting it to look its best and attract a buyer. Now is no different, so use it as an opportunity to give everything a good clean before viewings start. 
 As much as you’ll not want the strangers in your home touching door handles etc, they will feel the same. If your agent is doing the viewing on your behalf, they should be opening all doors, cupboards etc alternatively giving those viewing disposable gloves to wear at the viewing. If you’re doing the viewing, we advise you take the same approach as it will help you keep track of what you’ll need to clean afterwards. 
 To help minimise the number of people in your home at any one time, it may be required for you and your household to leave while the viewing is taking place, make sure you have a safe nearby place to go. 
 We would recommend discussing this with your agent before any viewings so that, together, you can work out a sensible plan that works for everyone. 
 When preparing for a viewing, follow our checklist to help it go smoothly: 

*Clean items and/or areas that are likely to be touched (i.e. door handles, doorbells) with an antibacterial cleaner both before and after the viewing has taken place 

*Open windows to boost ventilation prior to the viewing taking place 

*Open internal doors, loft hatches, and anything else you think may be of interest, ahead of the viewing to minimise any unnecessary contact 

*If possible, provide hand sanitiser by your front door so that the agent and viewers can clean their hands when they enter and leave your home 

*Have a plan of where you can go while the viewing is taking place if you need to. 
 Travelling to and from viewings 
 We want you to be more excited than stressed right now, so follow our top travel tips for a smooth, and safe, journey: 

*Wherever possible, use your own transport (i.e., car, motorcycle or bicycle) or, if it’s a walkable distance, consider this as an option 

*If you’re planning to drive to a viewing, think in advance about parking. Let the agent know in advance so they can advise you on where’s best to park as it’s not always obvious, especially if you don’t know the area 
 Check that public transport is available as it is still essential for many of us, especially in big cities. When booking the viewing, let the agent know so that they can help you book a viewing time outside of peak travel hours (07:00 – 09:30 and 16:30 – 18:30) 
 Show up on time. 
 Agents will need you to arrive at your viewing at the time you’ve agreed, not earlier and not later. This is to help minimise the number of people gathering near the property 
 At the viewing 
 For the duration of the viewing, you will need to be mindful that this is someone’s home treat it with respect and follow the social distancing guidelines.

Being armed with all the questions you still need to ask at the viewing, bring your notes, it will be more important than ever to ensure you’re getting the most out of the viewing. 
 Create your own 'viewing kit' to get the most out of your viewings: 
 *Anti-bacterial hand sanitiser or a small bar of soap in a resealable bag and some paper hand towels or a small towel, this will ensure you can clean your hands both before and after the viewing 

*A face mask – not an essential but recommended. It will show politeness to the agent and current owner that you have considered them 

*When travelling by public transport 

*Disposable gloves – not an essential, but a good idea if you’re worried about touching anything accidentally (especially if you’ve had to travel by public transport) 

*Viewing Checklist – Print-out or save a copy of our renter checklist or buyer checklist – they contain all the key questions you’ll need to ask 

*Something to write with – be it a pen, pencil or your phone, you’ll want to jot down the answers to your questions and make notes 

*Your phone – not only so you can contact the agent if you need to, but also so you can take photos if you have the permission of the owner or an alternative make notes if you do not have a note pad and pen 

*A bottle of water – In case you get thirsty, and always advisable in warmer months. You won’t be able to accept, or ask for, one on a viewing so useful to have in your bag 

  If you’re a seller letting people into your home for viewings

Over the coming weeks, your agent will be busy booking in prospective buyers who’ve asked to view your property. 

Follow our simple guidance to ensure each viewing goes as smoothly as possible protecting the members of your household, those at viewings and of course the agent.
 Always remember to follow this simple government guidance 

*Maintain a 2m distance from those on the viewing – we know this may be challenging, especially in smaller properties, but speak to your agent and together work out a route that makes the most sense for viewings to follow. If you ever forget what 2m looks like, imagine taking two long strides, or visualising the height of your front door 

*Wash your hands regularly (and thoroughly) and avoid touching your face – we’ve all got the dry hands to prove it, but this remains one of the most important pieces of guidance right now to help    prevent the spread of coronavirus and we’d recommend doing this both before and after each viewing 

*Regularly clean items that are likely to be touched on viewings – Particularly door handles, doorbells, and window latches/locks 

*Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow always, do not offer tissues and request those viewing your property to take their used tissues home to dispose of please 

After the viewing 
Once the viewing has finished, the agent may want to spend a couple of extra minutes with you, perhaps going through any feedback or comments with you. If you have an outdoor space that allows you to distance yourselves more easily, feel free to take the conversation outside, or ideally minimise physical meetings and book a follow-up video call. 
They may have just found you a buyer, but don’t be tempted to shake hands! 

Once the agent has left, you’ll want to wipe down any door handles, cupboard doors etc that were touched on the viewing, with an antibacterial wipe or spray, and wash your hands.
 Be safe, keep your family and friends safe, keep your community safe they are each and all depending on you to do the right thing. 

SSB offers these recommendations as an Australian owned free online service connecting owners, developers, investors, tenants, agents, buyers, and swappers seriously looking their next property