What the Lockdown Rules mean for Real Estate

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There’s an infamous street sign in Kings Cross that people flock to for selfies, given its absurd number of different and very confusing rules.

Trying to make sense of it is impossible – you almost need a PhD.

It reminds me of the recently announced NSW’s coronavirus lockdown rules and in particular how they apply to real estate. So, I thought it might be helpful to clarify the information.

Whilst these rules can create challenges for everyday do-it-yourself buyers, their implementation has resulted in clear advantages for those who use a buyer’s agent.

Who is Locked Down?

All of New South Wales was placed under stay-at-home restrictions from 5pm on Saturday 14th August. https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/rules/affected-regions

This means all residents across the state must stay at home unless they have a reasonable reason to leave (e.g., to act as a carer). Masks must be worn including at schools and when working outdoors.

In addition, all hospitality venues are closed except for takeaway.

All employers must require their employees to work from home unless it’s not practical to do so.

Greater Sydney Local Government Areas of concern are under additional restrictions. These include Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Strathfield, and some suburbs of Penrith.

The rules for these areas state that residents cannot leave home for the purposes of work unless they are an authorised worker. Outdoor recreation is also not permitted (although exercise is permitted).

Can You Inspect Properties?

Open homes have been banned across NSW during the lockdown.

However, as long as you’re looking for your next home, and even if you live in one of the LGA’s of concern, it still possible to arrange for a private inspection of a property anywhere in Greater Sydney, but only by appointment and with a limit of one real estate agent and one buyer at a time. Face masks must also be always worn by all parties. If you are looking to purchase a property for investment or a commercial property, inspections are not permitted.

Anyone from Greater Sydney who wants to inspect regional NSW real estate must obtain a permit beforehand.

In-person auctions are not allowed across all NSW.

Until lockdowns are lifted, and new public health orders are issued, all property auctions must be conducted online.

The first wave of national lockdowns at the start of the coronavirus pandemic forced agents to pivot pretty quickly and employ a range of methods to continue engaging with buyers and representing their vendors.

Some advanced tools are available to agents to allow them to conduct auctions virtually, so if a vendor pushes ahead and a buyer is keen, they can still transact.

In short, in spite of the lock down restrictions, inspecting a property to move into is still possible subject to the restrictions above.

What this Means for Markets?

Property prices will remain steady or even rise as a result of the lock down.

Whilst things are not ideal, the level of interest from buyers remains high and secondly, listings are going to become even more strained than they have been, as vendors decide to sit and wait until they can have as many people come through as possible

So, demand will stay high but supply will plummet. That will see prices remain steady – and potentially even continue to increase through the lockdown.

A buyer’s agent is your best bet to navigate these strange times where your competition is likely to remain strong, but the number of potential properties on offer is dwindling. A buyer’s agent can help narrow your wants, needs and budget, then find potential deals that fit the bill, helping to get you in the door,  before negotiating on your behalf with the seller or their agent.

A buyer’s agent can also draw on their extensive real estate networks to find exceptional opportunities before they go to market or seek out those that never officially go on the market. This removes the pressure of having to compete with other buyers.

Buyers’ agents can also help conduct swift but detailed research on suburbs, streets and individual properties, all while relying on  their local street knowledge giving you the best insights possible.

With agents only able to conduct one on one viewings, it means that organising a time to inspect a property has become harder. Because of their established relationships with the local agents, buyers’ agents will make sure you benefit from preferential treatment that will assist in booking the most convenient time for you to inspect the properties of your choice. This will save you time and stress.

At a time when finding good prospective properties is tough enough, let alone getting in to see if it’s worth pursuing, a buyer’s agent is worth their weight in gold.

(Photo Source: ABC News)

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