Buying and Selling Property during COVID-19

Buying and Selling Property during COVID-19

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on how we live and what is important in our lives. Government restrictions have changed the way we do things for the foreseeable future which includes buying and selling property.

Tim Bartlett has worked in Real Estate for 30 years and has just launched the exciting new agency, Bartlett and Co Property. In our interview Tim gives us some insight into his perspective on changes to the business and how the property market in the Illawarra is faring.

Q. Are there any restrictions in place that prevent people from either buying or selling a home?

A. No

Q. There was some confusion about property inspections but the ban on public open homes and on-site auctions was lifted on Saturday 9 May 2020. How are Barlett and Co Property running property inspections?

A. Although there have been some changes to the way real estate agents do business since the Coronavirus hit Australia one thing that has never changed in NSW is, agents have always been able to list and show homes. Inspections however do look a little different these days. Agents must limit the number of people inside the property at one time and have hygiene measures in place.

Q. What reassurance can you offer vendors who are hesitant to show their house during this time because of risks associated with COVID-19. (eg. what are you doing at inspections)

A. Vendors are concerned about two major factors when considering placing their property on the market for sale.

  1. Health Concerns - This is a very real concern and we as agents are doing everything possible to help prevent the spread of this virus. Such measures include asking buyers to complete a short questionnaire prior to admitting them to the home. Questions include, have you been unwell recently, with cold and flu like symptoms? Hand sanitiser is not only provided but must be applied before entering the home and of course social distancing guidelines are followed.

  2. Have property prices dropped – At present we really haven't experienced a drop in prices in our region. Properties that we valued prior to the virus and the ranges that were estimated are selling for these pre COVID-19 prices.

Q. What technology are you utilising and is there anything else you are doing to make it easier for buyers?

A. Many agents including Bartlett and Co Property are using 3D virtual tours on properties that are on the market. We have had many prospective purchasers’ comment about how much they love this technology. The opportunity to have a comprehensive look at a property without entering the home enables them to decide if it is a property they truly wish to physically inspect. This also offers benefits to vendors as only those with a keen interest in the property are now entering their home. As always, I am available to answer any questions and discuss the property over the phone, so buyers are fully informed before they make the decision to inspect the property.

Q. How has COVID-19 impacted the Illawarra property market? (eg. Are buyers predominantly from the region or outside the region?; who is buying and selling? – mums and dads, Landlords etc)

A. The number of people placing properties on the market has certainty dropped and as vendors are uncertain about the impact COVID-19 is having but as stated before, the market appears to be stable. The interesting thing is that buyer activity is still very strong. We are finding that houses especially are still in high demand. I have had many prospective purchasers say they wish there were more properties available to buy as their options are limited. Most of these buyers are locals, first home buyers and families.

Q. What other methods are you now utilising to sell (eg. private treaty, off-market sales)

A. Off Market sales have become more common through these times. A good agent will really source their buyer enquiry and try to match a buyer for a potential seller. This is great for an owner that is apprehensive in having open houses or many buyers walking through their home. We already have qualified the buyer in this situation and have matched them to a home we believe may suit. Private treaty is still however a popular way to sell homes even during these times.

Q. Are buyers having any difficulty with banks loans in this new environment?

A. We are finding it is taking a little longer to process a loan this is due to a couple of factors. Firstly, banks who use off shore processing centres, have had to deal with the closure of many of these due to restrictions associated with COVID-19 and secondly the banks are being extra diligent as they check and double check applicants job security. Banks however, are still lending and as long as the criteria is met, loan approvals are still happening. With current interest rates at an all-time low a lot of buyers see this as a great time to purchase a property.

Q. Are buyers and sellers asking for contract clauses related to COVID-19? Does the Cooling Off Period still apply?

A. I have heard of a few situations where this is the case. If so, there is usually an out clause that states, if the buyer or seller contracts the virus during the exchange to settlement period, they have the right to pull out of the sale however this clause has rarely been used in my experience. I am confident that as restrictions are eased and life begins to get back to normal clauses such as the one mentioned will become obsolete.

Q. What would be your advice to Vendors considering selling in the future.

A. Now is a great time to put your property on the market. The real estate industry like many other industries have been doing a great job to ensure our industry can still function while ensuring the safety of vendors and buyers alike. Inspecting a home is as safe as possible. I think that now is a great time to sell. Prices are good and there is not much competition in the marketplace as there are fewer house for sale, this means less competition that results in a higher price for your property. I think many vendors are waiting for COVID-19 to be over before they place their home on the market and while I can understand their apprehension there is the risk that there will be many more people with the same plan thus leading to more competition after COVID-19 is over.

If you'd like to have a chat with Tim he would love to hear from you. Contact Tim via email or phone on
tim@bartlettandcoproperty.com.au or 0412 126 669

As always the PDC Team are also here to discuss any of your questions or issues.