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Sydney property market has unusually busy summer break as closed borders keep buyers at home

ASSA | 2021-01-27 09:54:25

North Epping home owners Bronwyn and Gordon Campbell listed their home for sale just days before Christmas – a move considered almost sacrilegious in real estate.

But it paid off. The first open home had more than two dozen groups through, and by the second, they decided to bring their auction day forward to mid-January to capture the huge buyer interest.

“We had a few offers after the open on the 23rd, so we pretty much made the decision to bring the auction date forward to keep the momentum going,” Ms Campbell said. “Every open we had, it was pumping.”

They’re not alone. Sydney’s property market has been unusually busy during the summer holidays, with border closures keeping many Sydneysiders at home.

Attendance at open home inspections was 35.7 per cent higher in Sydney over the four weeks to January 17, compared to the same period a year earlier, Domain figures show.

For the Campbells, selling the family home had been on the cards for some time, but the decision to go to auction during a traditionally quiet period tore up the rule book.

“It’s been a really fast and furious and stressful period, but we couldn’t be happier with it,” Ms Campbell said. “I couldn’t believe how many people were at the auction. The front yard was full.”

The property sold well above reserve after 15 buyers registered to bid, including two parties who were bidding online from their holidays in Bellingen and Kiama.

The selling agent, The Agency North’s Catherine Murphy, said it made sense to list the property in December as borders began closing again due to the Northern Beaches outbreak.

“People traditionally go away at that time, but with the Queensland borders shutting a lot of people would be at home with nowhere to go. We did take a bit of a punt that would be the case,” Ms Murphy said. “We wanted to sell in isolation rather than in competition with other homes.”

The successful buyer and underbidder had been looking for a long time, according to Ms Murphy, and did not want to miss out at the risk of paying more a few weeks later.

Economists predict the property market to rise this year due to ultra-low interest rates, record savings and improving certainty about the pandemic in Australia.

While the property market has not fully opened yet, Oasis Skeen Property senior buyer’s agent Paul Wilcox said he had been inundated with buyer inquiries.

“There are lots of buyers leftover from last year and new buyers who were sitting on the fence,” Mr Wilcox. “The sky is not crashing in, interest rates are low, people can’t go on holidays, so they’re saving more money.

“The market is not open yet properly but, as a business, we’re in for a busy year … people want to buy property before prices take off even more.”

The trend of expats buying up bricks and mortar would also continue this year, Mr Wilcox said, as we are a safe environment compared to England and America.

“We’re a safe bet. We’re still considered cheap, and interest rates are low,” he said.

Ray White NSW chief auctioneer Alex Pattaro said auctions were going to return in strong numbers in coming weeks, but that had not stopped transactions bubbling along during the Christmas holidays for anyone who was “game” enough to come to the market.

“It sounds really strange, but I think every market across the board is performing quite well,” Mr Pattaro said. “Even in Mascot and that’s new stock or newer stock.”

An office in the inner city had an average of 42 groups through each property last weekend, Mr Pattaro said.

While more homes are expected to be listed on the market, some sellers are still scared about finding their next property.

“Everyone is waiting for more properties to hit the market so they can move somewhere else.”