Northern beaches COVID-19: prices down 5% but will weather virus storm

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Classic northern beaches Hamptons-style in North Balgowlah came to market with a $2.3 million asking price, just adjusted to $2.25 million.

Northern beaches folk call their region God’s Country but buying real estate in this heavenly Sydney spot may now involve really looking to the cloud.

As a State lockdown looms agents are warning that property trade may now become entirely online with virtual inspections, questions to agents and conveyancing and exchanges all happening in the digital space.

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COVID-19: your property questions answered

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A bidder at a North Manly auction last weekend. Onsite auctions are no longer permitted but they are being replaced by online auctions. (AAP/Image Matthew Vasilescu)

Auctions may continue to happen but move online or property may revert to private treaty campaigns with an asking price.

But such is the demand for northern beaches real estate several agents are predicting that property will continue to trade even in the most strictest of conditions and that the beaches will weather the COVID-19 storm better than many other Sydney regions.

They observe that property prices have probably dipped 5 per cent but there is still pent up demand; three active categories of buyers; popular suburbs such as Manly, Collaroy, Freshwater and Palm Beach that draw buyers and fresh listings coming online.

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Inside the four-bedroom home in Abingdon St, North Balgowlah which is for sale for $2.25 million.

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One of the living areas of the family home in North Balgowlah, listed with Cunninghams Real Estate.

Former NSW Real Estate Institute president and local agent John Cunningham, of Cunninghams Real Estate, said his office sold 12 properties last week, buyers were still making serious inquiries and people love to live on the northern beaches.

“We constantly have a supply problem and I predict that in 12 months with the Olympic Games approaching and us having learned lessons it will show the northern beaches in a most positive light,” he said.

He identified three types of active buyer; people looking at the chance to buyer something slightly cheaper than two to three before ago; people who have sold and need to buy again and people who don’t need to trade but who would like to move if there was more choice.

“There are still a lot of people who have been looking for a home since January who are wanting to buy and who will continue to buy, they may look at four to six month settlements but they are in the market to buy,” he said.

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“Values will take a hit, absolutely they will, but they will also bounce back,” he added.

A sophisticated online world can now allow buyers to view a property online, question an agent and have all the paperwork organised electronically.

There is nothing to stop buyers walking past a house and familiarising themselves with an area then going online to walk through a property they are interested in.

Suburbs that regularly appear in the realestate.com.au most heavily-searched lists in NSW include Collaroy, Freshwater and Manly, and prestige property in Palm Beach is expected to continue to attract cashed up buyers.

Tulo Sila of Upstate said after talking to colleagues in other Sydney regions, he believes the northern beaches will weather the impact of the virus better than most.

“I opened five properties yesterday, had people inspect at each and had four contracts handed out,” he said.

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This four-bedroom house in Sheaffe Pl, Davidson has a guide of $1.55 million and there is interest in the family home.

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The light-filled family home in Sheaffe Pl, Davidson.

“There are still a lot of buyers with pre-approvals and three or four months left to buy and they can fix an interest rate at 2.2 per cent,” he said.

“I am seeing interest from units at $550,000 to houses up to $3 million,” he said.

He is even launching a house in Warriewood later this week and is confident it will attract interest.

He too agreed that northern beaches prices had probably dropped by about 5 per cent in the last three weeks since the impact of COVID-19 nationally became more pronounced.

Some agents are planning to continue to run closed auctions, live-streaming them and allowing buyers to bid online in real time.

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Prestige property in Palmie is often sought after by generational buyers. (AAP IMAGE / Troy Snook)

Peter Robinson, of LJ Hooker Palm Beach, said his business would be transferring all auctions to expressions of interest (EOI) campaigns, and would be conducting private inspections by appointment.

“For the most part it is achievable to keep doing business and if you want to have that urgency you would traditionally have in an auction campaign, changing to an EOI campaign will achieve this,” he said.

“If there is a complete lockdown everything will shut down for a period but it’s going to be the same for everybody.”

Mr Robinson said his team would continue to offer phone advice and information.

“The way it’s evolving, we’ve been ready at each step and we will continue to do that,” he said.