Economic uncertainties aside, Nicole says, people are still buying and selling in this market. “There are people who sold prior to COVID-19 and have to buy, we’ve seen an influx of investors coming back, and then there are people who are upgrading or who have actually been looking and are in the fortunate position of just waiting for the right property to pounce.”
Still, the process looks a little different these days. “By and large, realtors have moved to private and off-market sales,” Nicole says. “And buyers are becoming quite savvy in their negotiations with the vendors.”
So, whether you’re a first-home buyer, an investor looking for a bargain, or you simple have to sell, these are Nicole’s top tips for buying (and selling) houses during the COVID-19 crisis.
How to buy and sell property during the coronavirus pandemic
Do an inspection
Virtual walk-throughs are great during the research phase but, if you’re serious about buying, Nicole says seeing a place in real life is still crucial. Vendors are now offering one-on-one inspections, by appointment only, and with a stringent vetting process. “The agent will probably ask if you’ve driven past, if you’ve looked at the video online and if you’ve got your finance approved and in writing,” she says. “If so, they’ll be happy to meet you at the property at a certain time. They’ll generally provide you with hand sanitiser or gloves and then you’ll be able to go through.”
Do your homework
Doing due diligence is imperative whether you’re buying during a pandemic or not. “You need to know where the house sits in the market price-wise,” says Nicole. “Check out the statement of information but always do your own research into what similar properties in the area have sold for.”
Nicole says vendors don’t always compare like for like. They may make comparisons based on the number of bedrooms rather than land size, or on the age of the home rather than its position.
“Jump online and have a look,” she advises. “Google the address and check out the street view of similar properties that have sold in the area to give you an idea of whether the asking price is fair.”
Due diligence also includes asking if the property has had anything done to it since it was online last, checking in with the local council about permits and getting contracts checked.
It’s also worthwhile visiting Landchecker which has details on about eight million properties across Victoria and NSW, including up-to-date information on planning applications, zoning, overlays, cultural heritage indications and burglary statistics, as well as land size, sales history and other information you need to make an informed choice.
Don’t get seduced by price
While price is important, Nicole says it shouldn’t be the only consideration in the purchase process. “Don’t just buy something because it’s cheap,” she says. “Position is also important. You want to buy close to infrastructure, especially if you’re an investor, so that you can attract a broad market.”
Don’t rush into anything
During times of crisis, Nicole says people are more likely to make rash decisions. This goes for both buyers and sellers. If people are panicked or cash-strapped, they might be more inclined to make or take an offer. “Sometimes people buy because they think a property is really good value – but they haven’t looked at all the other things,” she says. “You still have to make really good decisions.”
Get a building inspection
If you’re not planning on doing a knock-down rebuild, doing your normal due diligence includes getting building and pest inspections. “This may not make you pull out of a sale, but it will provide a detailed report highlighting any visible issues or defects with the property and give you confidence in your purchase decision,” says Dan Watts from Rapid Building Inspections.
Understand the risks
“Purchasing is not without significant risk, the consequence of which can be significant to the buyer,” says Chris Lane, general manager of Conveyancing.com.au. “When buying a property, taking advice should be the first and last thing anyone, let alone a first-home buyer, does in a transaction. Your conveyancing lawyer is your advocate. Their role is to understand your needs and help to set up the transaction to both meet those needs and to manage risk.”