First-Home Buyers diving into the market despite COVID-19 crisis…

Mitchell Kelly scored himself a bargain as a first-home buyer dipping his toe into the market during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kelly has just picked up a four-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouse in Scarborough, a beachside suburb of Perth, for $545,000. The same property was on the market earlier in the year for $700,000.

Although he does concede that the property needs some work.

Before buying, Kelly, who had previously been renting, had been looking for a property to buy for six months. “I was outbid on a place in January,” he said. “Then six weeks ago I found the place I ended up buying just when the federal government shut everything down.”

He described the vendor as motivated.

Up until that point Kelly hadn’t even factored the COVID-19 pandemic into his thinking about buying a property. “Then I started second-guessing myself as to whether it was the right thing to do to buy something or hang back for six months and see where the market goes.”

Despite the virus, he took the view it was a good time to buy, as any fall in property prices would be temporary and buying property required a long-term investment horizon.

“I also found a place I liked and it was a good price,” he said. “Based on everything I saw, it was the best place I’d looked at in six months.”

Domain economist Trent Wiltshire says it’s too early to tell how much prices have come off for the average first-home buyer, but the market has clearly trended down.

“Prices peaked around February and since then they have fallen by about 5 per cent to 10 per cent on average. That varies across suburbs and capital cities,” Wiltshire says.

“More vendors are taking some money off the asking price. But it’s another question whether prices have bottomed.

“The outlook has improved over the past few weeks as we’ve made good progress containing the virus and with the economy reopening.

“But although it’s looking more positive, prices won’t necessarily rebound rapidly. It’s more likely they’ve still got a little bit further to fall, but not too much. That’s the base case,” he adds.

Auction conditions have improved after open for inspections and in-person auctions started up again. Recent weekends delivered the best auction clearance rate since on-site auctions were banned.

“Signs have improved a bit and the outlook is better than it was,” Wiltshire said. “But a lot of people are out of work or working reduced hours. So people’s income has taken a hit and that’s going to be the case for a number of months, even if things do improve quite rapidly.”

The big risk to the outlook is another outbreak or multiple outbreaks, and a subsequent shutdown.

“That will have a big impact on consumer and business confidence and we might see prices fall further,” Wiltshire said. “So we’re definitely not out of the woods. But the news is a little more positive. Prices are still going to be soft for a while, so there’ll still opportunities out there for buyers.”

First-home buyers were particularly active before the crisis thanks to the federal government’s first-home loan deposit scheme. The proportion of first-home buyers in the context of all home loan approvals for owner-occupied dwellings in March was 29.3 per cent, the highest it has been since 2010.

But given young people have been some of the hardest hit by shutdowns, with many employed in sectors such as hospitality, retail and entertainment, it’s possible this trend will reverse.

Nevertheless, real estate agents report more inquiries from first-home buyers given the dip in property prices and cuts to interest rates.

Couples with dual incomes and job security are finding low interest rates mean repayments are close to or similar to paying rent, making it affordable to buy their first home.

“They are realistic and looking for property they can move into that offers the opportunity to add value in the future.”

First-home buyers may also be able to get into the market by acquiring properties from distressed sellers willing to lower their prices.

“There will be some good buys due to some home owners being in financial distress and needing to sell. But this is on a case-by-case basis and not something that is happening widely across the nation”

Kelly is extremely pleased with his purchase. “At the end of the day, the market will recover, whether it takes 12 months or longer. I certainly didn’t want to put my life off for a year or more, so I’m glad I bought now.”

 

NSW to lift bans on open homes and on-site auctions in move expected to boost market

Concessions allowing homebuyers to return to open for inspections and on-site auctions will give the real estate market a much-needed boost, property experts claim.

The relaxed restrictions announced as part of government measures to kickstart the NSW economy will permit homebuyers to attend open homes and on-site auctions from next weekend.

Buyers had been limited to viewing properties by private inspection only and auctions were being conducted online due to social distancing measures enforced in mid-March.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet announced the restrictions will be lifted after nearly six weeks with strict health guidelines in place.

These include limits to the number of people allowed to attend inspections and auctions, along with physical distancing requirements.

Hand sanitiser will be mandatory and stringent cleaning of properties will be required. Those with symptoms of illness will be barred from attending inspections or auctions.

 Agents will also be required to keep records of those attending in case contact tracing is needed.

The announcements came as CoreLogic data showed Sydney’s auction clearance rate bounced back up to 63 per cent this week after being below 40 per cent for much of April. Meanwhile, new listings activity slumped last week to about half what it was in March.

Real Estate Institute of NSW chief executive Tim McKibbin said the new concessions would give the industry a boost and help sure up confidence in the sector.

“The market has been severely impacted by COVID-19 in the sense it has frozen … activity has been in hibernation,” he said. “Relaxing (the restrictions) could mean stronger competition for property.”

Surry Hills home auction

Agents will need to limit attendance at auctions.


Cooley Auctions founder Damien Cooley said the lift on restrictions may encourage vendors to convert private treaty sales into auction.

This would push up auction volumes in the coming weeks, Mr Cooley said. “The industry had been embracing online auctions and sellers were getting some strong results but the return to face-to-face interactions will make a difference,” he said.

A key impact will be on agents’ ability to market properties, since they will no longer be required to host time-intensive private inspections, Mr Cooley added.

“It was incredibly difficult for agents to do private inspections,” he said.

Supplied Editorial Ray White, Geelong agent Laurie McGovan conducts the online auction
 of 24 Western Beach Rd, Geelong on Saturday.

Auctions had been conducted in sales offices with bidding done online over recent weeks.


Under the new health guidelines, agents will be encouraged to limit the number of people attending inspections, but Mr Cooley said the simplest way to do this would be restricting attendance to registered bidders only. “Agents will have to discourage spectators,” he said.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the relaxing of restrictions was a sign of the ongoing success in limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Some vendors with private treaty sales may convert them to auction sales.


“When it comes to this change, a simple home truth is to leave the house hunting to the genuine buyers and sellers and avoid overcrowding,” Mr Perrottet said.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard urged real estate agents and the community to take care when face-to-face inspections and auctions resumed.

“The community has done an outstanding job in limiting the spread of COVID-19 and we need to make sure we continue to exercise vigilance,” he said.

Realtor outside home for sale with real estate sign.

Having to do private inspections only was crippling some agents’ ability to sell real estate.


Mr McKibbin said the relaxing of property restrictions meant home sales would be governed by similar rules to those in place in the retail industry.

“The concession is not all that different from what is in place for attending Bunnings or Coles or going on public transport … it reflects how important real estate is for the economy.”

What are the long-term impacts of pausing your mortgage repayments?

What are the long-term impacts of pausing your mortgage repayments?

LONG AWAITED CLARITY FOR VIRUS-HIT COMMERCIAL TENANCIES

Long-awaited clarity for virus-hit commercial tenancies arrives

On a day the RBA left the cash rate on hold at the record low rate of 0.25 per cent, National Cabinet finally settled on a new mandatory code for commercial tenancies amid the coronavirus crisis. 

Statement by Philip Lowe, Governor: Monetary Policy Decision | Media Releases

At its meeting today, the Board reaffirmed the targets for the cash rate and the yield on 3-year Australian government bonds of 25 basis points, as well as the other elements of the package announced…

The compulsory code for commercial tenancies will be legislated under each state and territory jurisdiction, and actioned through a binding mediation process. Mr Morrison said the code aims to help tenants and landlords, who are in financial turmoil due to COVID-19, negotiate rental payments and maintain their relationship through the pandemic.

“What this does is it preserves the lease, it preserves the relationship, it keeps the tenant in their property and it keeps the tenant on the lease, which is also good for the landlord,” said Morrison.

The code will apply to tenancies where the tenant or landlord is eligible for the Jobkeeper program, and where there is an annual turnover of $50 million or less.

The landlord and tenant will be required to work together to come to a solution – tenants will need to continue to honour their tenancy agreement and landlords will not be able to evict their tenant.

Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced the mandatory code for commercial tenants and landlords. Picture: Getty

Landlords will be required to reduce a tenant’s rent through a combination of rent waivers and deferrals over the pandemic period, which must be proportionate to the trading reduction of the tenant’s business.

“This is seen as a proactive, a constructive and cooperative mechanism for landlords and tenants to see this through together”, said Morrison.

Banks are also being urged to support landlords throughout this time – Morrison particularly called out international banks who will need to support Australian businesses in the same way that Australian banks are supporting them.

Covid -19

Corona Virus (COVID-19)

At Viridity Real Estate we are thinking of all of the people who have been affected by COVID-19, and we appreciate the healthcare workers, local communities, and governments around the world who are on the front line working to contain this coronavirus. Please know that we are vigilantly monitoring the COVID-19 situation around the clock and intend to keep you updated in every way we can.

Our office is still open for business however we are exercising precautions and limiting our face to face interactions.

Good news we can still assist you with your property needs via by private inspections, virtual property tours,  virtual property appraisals and online/digital auctions.

If you would like more information from the Australian Government please click here: https://www.health.gov.au/

COVID-19 Tenant FAQ’s

I’m currently in self-isolation. Should I let my property manager know?

Tenants should let their landlord know if they are self-isolating or sick with COVID-19, especially if the agent, landlord or tradesperson plans to visit or enter the rental. They should also make sure any other tenants, flatmates or visitors are aware of the situation and how it will work. See self-isolation guidelines

I have lost my job and I can’t cover the rent. What should I do?

If you are unable to meet your rent obligations, you should let us know immediately. There is support for tenants and landlords who are experiencing financial hardship. We anticipate this announcement will provide some much-needed guidance and framework around how to get both our Tenants & Landlords through this difficult time of job loss across the board.

Once we receive your request and evidence to support your lost income or job, such as Employment Separation Certificate, we will contact the landlord. Some landlords will be more willing and able to accommodate requests for paying a reduced or deferred rent for a short period, especially if their mortgage costs are low and allow them to do so. However, there is no provision within the Residential Tenancies Act to compel landlords to act with leniency in this situation and some landlords may not be in a financial position to offer this to you.

We encourage you to consider the following:

  • Have you had a discussion with your Employer as to whether your job is likely to be reinstated once the health crisis subsides?
  • Do you know that you can contact the Department of Workplace Relations for guidance around employment during this time? More information can be found here – Workplace Laws
  • Are you covered via an insurance policy for Income Protection Insurance?
  • Have you engaged with Centrelink with respect to an allowance that will likely also include rental assistance? More information can be found here – Centrelink
  • Have you checked with your Superannuation Fund as to whether you can access your super early? More information can be found here – Super
  • If you have any mortgages or personal loans, have you checked with your financier as to whether you can pause payments due to hardship?

If you feel you that you are no longer able to continue residing at the property, please contact your property manager to discuss the options available.

Can my landlord continue holding inspections for sale and for lease?

Landlords and their agents must ensure they do not breach the reasonable peace, comfort and privacy of their tenants. At the moment this may require taking steps to prevent the spread of disease by people visiting during an inspection of your property. They may need to consider:

  • Limit the number of people inside a property at any one time to maintain safe distances and adhere to the recent government announcement which prevents them from holding open homes for sale or lease. Please note that inspection by private appointment is still allowed
  • Asking every person intending to attend an inspection if they have returned to Australia from overseas in the past 14 days and also if they are currently experiencing fever, sore throat, cough or shortness of breath ( the current main symptoms assoc with Covid 19). If the answer is yes, then the landlord or agent should tell the person that they cannot enter the house until they have self-isolated for 14 days or they have had a Covid 19 test that has come back negative for the virus
  • Providing sanitiser/hand wash for people to use when attending an inspection and making sure they and the agent use it
  • Ensure no one touches anything fixtures or fittings while visiting the property

Can my landlord continue to conduct routine inspections?

Both property managers and tenants have ongoing legal and insurance obligations relating to routine inspections and COVID-19 does not remove these. Any tenant who is unwell or in self-isolation should inform us immediately by email so we can postpone your upcoming scheduled inspection. Rest assured that our team will be taking special precautions whilst onsite at your property to minimise any risk.

I have maintenance to report. Will it get fixed?

Your property manager will be prioritising any urgent repairs at this time. That said, should you have any general repairs, they will be attended to when possible assuming there are skilled tradespeople available to carry out the work.

My property manager wants to send a tradesperson into my property but I’m not comfortable with it. What can I do?

If the repair is urgent such as a smoke alarm or hot water system, the repair must proceed as it is deemed urgent according to the Residential Tenancy Agreement. If you have concerns, contact your Property Manager and ask them what precautions the tradesperson will be taking prior and during visiting the property.

Can my landlord evict me during this crisis?

You can attempt to negotiate with your landlord – if you are already in arrears, it’s better to be proactive.

I’m having trouble with other household bills, what can I do?

If you are having trouble paying other household bills like electricity, gas or water contact your provider/retailer to find out about their customer assistance program and its eligibility criteria. All electricity and gas retailers are required to have a customer assistance program. If you are eligible under the program you are protected from disconnection and your retailer should work with you to develop a suitable payment arrangement and offer other relevant relief or support.

Have a look also at the Australian Energy Regulator’s info for customers in hardship. Usefully they have their fact sheets in a range of languages other than English.

You can apply to have a phone hearing. Ensure you inform the Tribunal if you are in a higher risk category, for example, if you are immune suppressed or a carer for elderly relatives, so they can consider this when assessing and prioritising your request. While you are able to do a phone hearing on a mobile, in general landlines are preferred because of the reliability of the line.

https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/healthdirect-coronavirus-covid-19-symptom-checker

Which bank is offering the lowest home loan interest rates right now?

Which bank is offering the lowest home loan interest rates right now?

It’s a mad, mad world out there, with record low interest rates and another cut to the RBA’s cash rate on the horizon.

7 must-ask questions when buying a property

If you’re serious about buying a property, knowledge is power – that means asking loads of questions before signing dotted lines.

But often the biggest mistake people make when buying a house is becoming emotionally attached before asking all the key questions about the property. Once you get to settlement day it’s too late to ask and all the problems with the home are now your responsibility.

We ask industry experts to reveal the must-ask questions every home buyer and investor needs to ask.

5 questions to ask before buying
1. Can you show me a recent property sales report to show what the house is worth?

This is one of the most important questions but many people don’t think to ask it, says Buyer’s Agent Stefan Miraglia, Director of IPC Property in Adelaide.

“You should question the agent on why they think the house is worth what they are selling it for,” Miraglia says.

“Ask them to provide you with a recent sales report that shows other similar properties and what they sold for in recent times.

“You want to make sure the house you are buying is fairly priced compared to the rest of the local market and you are not overpaying.”

2. Why is the vendor selling?

The answer to this question can assist you when negotiating price, according to Buyer’s Agent Deborah West, Principal of SydneySlice Buyers Agent.

It can potentially save you thousands of dollars when you go to negotiate the sale price.

“If the vendor has already bought a property they will be more motivated to sell,” West says.

“If they are looking to buy a new property they may like a longer settlement period. Is it a divorce or deceased estate? Often a deceased estate will need to run through to auction.”

Knowing the reason behind the sale is invaluable information to a buyer – make sure you ask.

3. How long has the property been on the market?

If a property has been on the market for more than six weeks, assume it is wrongly priced or there is something wrong with it, West says. The average time a home is on the market in Australia is around a month so if it’s drastically different to that then it’s worth asking why.

“Ask if the property was taken to auction and failed to sell and if so, what happened at the auction. If the property was passed in at auction make sure you ask if the pass-in price was from a buyer or if it was a vendor bid.”

4. Are there any known issues with the property, land or neighbours’ properties?

There might be something that you haven’t noticed that could affect the value of the property so it is important to ask the agent if there are any issues that could change your mind.

“Even though your building inspector or conveyancer should help pick up most of the potential issues before settlement, you should ask the agent before signing the contract just in case they can point anything out,” Miraglia says.

While you shouldn’t rely on it and need to do independent research: “Most agents want to act in good faith as they want the sale to go through so will tell you upfront if they know of any issues that may affect your decision.”

house front

Do you research around the surrounding properties to get a good idea of the home’s current issues. Picture: realestate.com.au

5. Can I afford to buy this property?

It sounds like an obvious question. But Miraglia questions how many owner-occupiers and investors actually ask this before buying a house.

“Buying a house is an expensive process and can be quite costly if you have to sell it six months later because you can’t afford the repayments,” he says.

“Remember, the bank might approve you for a certain home loan amount but will this mean you can still afford the same lifestyle you were used to?”

According to Head Conveyancing Specialist of CM Lawyers in Sydney, Alex Sapounas, buyers need to ask themselves “how will I cope with buying the property if interest rates go up by 2%?”

“They need to understand their budget and sit down with their mortgage broker or bank to fully understand their financial position,” Sapounas says.

6. Am I really happy with this house and its location?

Buying a house is super exciting but can also be stressful and time-consuming. And that can make buyers vulnerable to making mediocre choices.

“Spending weekends going to open inspections is challenging and after potentially missing out on a few houses, you might jump at the next one that comes along and find yourself hastily signing a contract,” Miraglia warns.

“It’s important to strongly consider your decision to sign a contract on a house and make sure that it is the right house for you, not the house that is right now!”

7. Why am I buying?

It’s often the simplest questions we forget to ask ourselves. If you don’t know the answer clean and simple, it is not time to buy a property.

“Will it be your own home or will it be an investment? It is very important to know the answer to this question,” Sapounas says.

“If it will be your own home then its price will become secondary to finding the right features and location for your budget.

“If it will be an investment then the price is everything because that will determine its return.

“I have bought investment properties I would never live in myself but their figures stack up; likewise many $3 million houses would make poor investments because their yields would be very low.

“It is crucial to know why you are buying – you usually cannot have both in one property.”

TOP 10 SYDNEY SUBURBS WHERE HOUSE PRICE GROWTH OUTPACED HOUSEHOLD INCOME IN 2019

5 kitchen design trends to look for in 2020

5 kitchen design trends to look for in 2020

The kitchen is almost certainly where the majority of our time, energy and money goes when it comes to designing a home.

The Duffys’ kitchen reno tips

1:47

As the central hub, there’s a lot hanging on the success of a kitchen. It not only has to function seamlessly for busy meal service but it also needs to be a decorative triumph – and as design boundaries continue to be pushed, 2020 will indicate bolder choices than ever for the average Aussie kitchen.

Here are my top five designs trends for the year to come.

1. Coloured cabinetry

You don’t need to look far to notice that the all-white kitchen look is fading.

dark cabinet kitchen

Now is the time to go wild with colour in the kitchen. Picture: Getty

In 2019 we saw seen colour utilised with far greater confidence than in years past, and in 2020 we’re going to see statement colours in joinery that you’d never have previously entertained.

Nothing is off limits from slate green, pastel pink, spearmint and inky blues, colour is making a comeback and I, for one, can’t wait.

2. Statement stone benches

White marble and marble-look composite stone is moving over to make way for an edgier, more dramatic look in stone benches – whether it be in the natural form or the engineered variety.

This Prahran kitchen has a statement bench top as its centrepiece. Picture: realestate.com.au

Expect to see darker, grey-based marbles as well as granite with strong patterns in the vein, which have previously taken a backseat to the Calacatta and Carrara varieties.

3. Decorative handles

Handles are essentially kitchen jewellery. A very simple kitchen can be elevated significantly with the use of eye-catching handles for cabinetry.

Handles are “kitchen jewellery”, accessorising a simple space. Picture: Getty

We’re spoilt for choice with options and 2020 will bring even greater variety. Expect to see home renovators mixing and matching within their space, with a combination of pulls and knobs of complementing styles.

Brass, leather and even rattan will continue to be popular handle choices but don’t be surprised to see powder-coated handles in bespoke colours by the most confident home designers.

RELATED: Bathroom renovation predictions for 2020

4. Detailed island benches

The standard island waterfall bench reigned supreme for many years but the island bench, which is nearly always the centrepiece of the home, is getting some extra attention.

A good island bench anchors the kitchen space, like in this Brisbane apartment. Picture: realestate.com.au

From decorative panelling to turned timber legs and curved stone edges, interesting angles and features are coming – and they’re more of a work of art than a simple prep station.

5. Lavish appliances

In past years, we’ve spent a lot of energy on trying to conceal and streamline our appliances so that as to not give them any limelight. In 2020 you’ll start to notice a shift towards chunkier statement appliances, like large freestanding ovens and butler’s sinks in both classic and contemporary versions.

American-style kitchens with statement appliances will be popular this year. Picture: realestate.com.au

Larger decorative rangehoods will begin to feature more in homes, borrowed from classic American-style interiors, which is emerging as an influence in Aussie homes across the board.

7 backyard mistakes to avoid when selling your home..

Here are a few major mistakes you could be making in your backyard that could seriously hinder the sale of your home.

1. The grass is taller than an NBA player
You know what’s not cute during a viewing? A brown belly black snake emerging from your overgrown lawn to bite the guy who was about to place an offer.

backyard with lawn
Keeping the lawn neatly trimmed is the first thing you need to address when considering opening your home to potential buyers. Picture: realestate.com.au

Sure, the likelihood of that is relatively low, but here’s the news just in: manicured lawns can sell homes.

Ensure your grass is short, well-trimmed and watered. We want green and lush not long and dangerous.

2. The outdoor setting is from 1986
We’re here to sell a fantasy to a potential buyer. And there’s nothing dreamy about the plastic seven-piece outdoor setting that’ll fly into the air when even the slightest wind hits.

outdoor seating balcony
Make sure your outdoor setting isn’t letting the rest of the house down.

Invest in some furniture for your deck that feels a bit more aspirational. Timber settings are reasonably priced and look way better than lightweight plastic.

3. The deck is dryer than the Sahara Desert
Hard work is not something any potential buyer wants. With that in mind, the last thing you want is a cracked, splintering deck that screams high-maintenance.

A trip to the hardware store and one afternoon is all it’ll take you get your timber deck looking moist and miraculous again. Do not avoid this necessary bit of upkeep.

4. There’s no barbie zone
Every Aussie worth their southern cross tatt knows that you need a barbecue in the backyard. We want a buyer to imagine chucking snags on the barbie every summer, so failing to include this in your outdoor area is a major rookie error.

If you already have one, make sure it’s gleaming.

5. You haven’t carved out a kids area
Selling to a family? Staging a kids room inside is only half your job done. You have to make sure there’s a zone outside for them as well.

You don’t have to spend a fortune here, but it wouldn’t hurt to put a swing set or slippery dip out if your yard is big enough to take it.

6. The windows are dirtier than 2002 Christina Aguilera
What’s that calling your name in the distance? It’s the gurney at the hardware store and you need to go hire it immediately.

Every window in your house should be shining on viewing day, so a high-pressure clean in the lead-up is a must.

7. The gutters are more clogged than a teenager’s pores
Trust me, people will go outside and look at your gutters. If they’re overflowing with debris (or worse – birds nests!) buyers will not only be turned off your external zone, but they’ll be wondering what other pockets of your home are packed with filth.

Time to get on the phone and call in a cleaner.