Rolling lockdowns seem to be the mid-term future of most Australian capital cities. In Melbourne, we are accustomed to these after all the practice we got last year and perhaps it’s this fact, or simply buyers’ and sellers’ motivation, that has kept the market strong here – it seems buyers can’t get enough of our area. We spoke to Ray White Managing Director Tamara Lloyd and Auctioneer Jeremy Tyrrell about the impact of COVID-19, the current state of the market, and what the future holds.
The major change in recent times has been the transition to online auctions. Buyers, sellers and agents alike have become accustomed to operating online. After all, in the last year and a half everything from birthday celebrations, funerals and home inspections have been taken into the virtual space.
‘The last eighteen months have taught us how to adapt to the ever-changing lockdown environment and we have learnt to pivot very quickly to the online space,’ Jeremy told us. ‘This has been important so we can maintain the integrity of the auction process and a fair and transparent competitive environment. Buyers should make themselves aware of online platforms and observe an auction before participating, be it online or onsite.’
Jeremy explained, however, that restricted access to properties for buyers can be a challenge. ‘The initial stages of a lockdown still provide exceptional results as the competition is strong and potential buyers have had the opportunity to inspect. However, as a lockdown continues, access becomes difficult.”
This difficulty has created another more recent shift to virtual inspections. These inspections are hosted online by one of our agents with the vendor videoing the home. This allows potential buyers to ‘walk through’ the property from anywhere and experience the home for themselves. “Just like the physical inspections, the virtual open homes are leading to a significant number of sales both for auctions and private sale. They’re proving to be a popular and successful alternative to in person inspections during periods of heavy restrictions,” Tamara shared.
At Ray White Croydon, more comprehensive videos, floorplans and photos are playing an integral part in the decision-making process for buyers, providing them with as much information and insight as possible when they’re unable to view a property in person.
Private sales in our area are still performing well during lockdown, with properties usually selling within a couple of weeks. Incorporating virtual house inspections and more comprehensive listings allows us to create a more immersive experience for the buyer, even when inspections are restricted.
‘Our sales during the last twelve to eighteen months have been a 60/40 split between auctions and private sales. We work closely – though often virtually – with our vendors to determine the best method for them and their home,’ Tamara told us.
Jeremy has seen a shift in attitude towards auctions, particularly online auctions. ‘Buyers adapted immediately [to online auctions] as they didn’t care how they purchased the property, they just needed an avenue to buy. As such, online auctions have been a huge success and will continue to be.’
For vendors, the real plus is that the contract is unconditional, removing wait times and uncertainty, and with no finance or building inspection conditions that so often come with private sales. This gives vendors more security.
Tamara explains: ‘With the increase in online auctions because of COVID-19, we’re able to have more control. We conduct a fifteen-minute meeting with all buyers that goes through the entire process, ensuring that they enter the online auction with full confidence and comfort in our team and the process. With more control we’re able to provide a higher level of service for buyers and vendors, resulting in a less stressful and less intrusive process – but most importantly for sellers we feel the control helps us achieve an even better price.’
Jeremy believes that auctions will always deliver for vendors. ‘Auctions, whether virtual or onsite, will always provide the best competitive environment. For buyers, the advantage is the transparency – being able to make a decision on what bid you need to beat to buy the property.’
At Ray White Croydon our goal with any sale, whether via onsite auction, online auction or private sale, is to achieve the best result for the vendor, with the least stress. This approach hasn’t changed with the pandemic.
COVID-19 and the associated restrictions haven’t impacted the market in our area negatively. Rather, there has been an overall increase in demand and sale prices over the last twelve months across all suburbs in the area: Croydon is up 11.8%, Ringwood up 10.5%, Lilydale up 13.9% and Wonga Park up 19.2%.
This isn’t news to Tamara.‘I’m not surprised by these figures given what we are seeing on a daily basis with both our private sales and auctions. Many people are making lifestyle decisions at the moment that make our area – with its larger homes, space and short commute to the city – the right place for them. People are moving here and away from inner-city areas.’
We spoke with Elaine Richards, Ray White Croydon’s Director about the current state of the rental market and how it’s been affected and boosted by COVID-19 and our rolling lockdowns here in Victoria.
“The rental market is extremely strong. We are leasing rental properties in some cases the same day as they go live, enquiry levels have jumped significantly some properties have in excess of 50 – 70 interested parties wanting to inspect and all rental providers have a large selection of applicants to choose from.” Elaine told us.
Over the last 6 months, since the rent increase moratorium ceased, there’s been a significant increase in rental prices in this area with many properties increasing by as much as $50-100 per week. In particular we’re seeing this with large homes, which have always been in demand are the most sought after type of property with home-schooling, office space and outdoor areas a priority in this new world.
Adapting to lockdowns and COVID-19 has seen Ray White Croydon’s property management team embrace the virtual world. “We have been able to adapt very quickly with each lockdown and are now able to successfully work offsite, as all our technology is now web-based. We are consistently leasing properties from videos during lockdowns.”
Because of our team’s innovation, we are breaking leasing records, with the most recent record set at 13 properties leased sight unseen in just one week. Each property was leased based on the photos and videos our team produced when conducting condition reports. In this area, we’ve seen an increase in uptake on both sides of the market. “We are receiving a large volume of people reaching out seeking assistance in finding their next home and we’re adding people to our rental prospective database on a daily basis. And then on the otherside we’re seeing a lot of investors out in the market. It’s a wonderful time to secure an investment property.”
“I’d go as far as saying I’ve not seen this much demand and increase in activity in all my years in real estate.” So, what advice does Elaine have for prospective renters and rental providers in this fast-moving rental market?
For Rental Providers
With rolling lockdowns and ever-changing ways of doing business for all industries – not just real estate – digital and media innovation is essential to delivering the best outcomes for our clients. With this in mind we’re thrilled to introduce you to the new addition to the Ray White Croydon family, Dee Pajevikj, who has come on board as our Marketing and Multimedia Manager.
In her role at Ray White Croydon, Dee builds our digital presence, helping to foster connections between our team, clients, buyers and the community. Working closely with the agents, she helps to promote properties and build relationships with the wider community, both online and through community events. Dee has made this role her own and has become an integral to our business.