The Federal Government has announced a ban on open-for-inspections from midnight tonight amid the coronavirus crisis, but potential off-the-plan buyers are already heading online in droves.
Many agents have already moved towards private inspections and digital walk-throughs in a bid to stay connected with buyers, as less people visit physical sales suites.
Here’s what we’re learning about how buying off-the-plan is changing during the health crisis:
Builders and developers have recorded a spike in online enquiries
Director of sales and marketing at Pace Development Group, Ashley Bramich, says, while their display suites have been quieter, they have seen an uptick in online interest.
“With more people working from home, we have seen our website traffic increase,” he says. “There have been rises in page visits, engagement and time on site.”
Bramich says they are seeing genuinely interested buyers who are confident the COVID-19 crisis will be over once their new home is completed.
“Potential purchasers take the view that any property which settles in the next 12-18 months will remain a strong investment beyond the current environment.”
Potential buyers have more time on their hands
Managing director – residential at Colliers International, Peter Chittenden, says self-isolation measures have given people more spare time to house hunt.
“As a result, we’re seeing off-the-plan enquiry pick up. Last week that was up by 63%”.
“There has been an upturn of engagement with sales agents communicating via phone and email. [Buyers] are keen to engage and request VIP appointments to access the displays and still hear about incentives and offers on projects,” adds Bramich.
Chittenden says agents need to think “fundamentally different” in terms of how to best meet the needs of potential off-the-plan buyers.
“This means we need to come up with great videos and marketing material in the online tech space to arouse interest,” says Chittenden.
“Our team has begun to adopt new technologies. They even hold virtual appointments and open for inspections.
“The adoption of technologies in our workplace has meant that we can continue to service our clients and customers, especially those who have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic within Australia.”
Investors turn to property in times of uncertainty
Investors might be looking to property – rather than the stock market – as a safer place to park their money, Chittenden suggests.
“We anticipate that the appeal of property will only grow, as we experience irregular volatility in other investment markets,” says Chittenden.
The current economic rebound in China following its COVID-19 crisis could also point to increased foreign investment interest in Australian property.
“Look at our currency at the moment – 57 cents to the US dollar. If you’re in China, where the factory engines are turning over again, you’ve just saved 12 per cent or more in the last few days on Sydney property that’s brand new,” says Chittenden.
He says hesitant buyers should remain engaged in the property hunt, encouraging them to make an informed purchase before opportunities in the current market are missed.
“When the moment arrives when everyone knows they’re absolutely fine and there are no problems, it means they’ve probably missed the opportunity to capitalise on the risk and reward percentages,” says Chittenden.
“Anyone who bought in the GFC was incredibly well rewarded with increases of two or three times the value of their property.
“Outside of job security, which is significant, the fundamentals haven’t changed in the residential world. Once we get through this, I think the market will run hard.”