Spring is typically a bumper time for real estate in Australia, but will that be the case this year?
COVID-19 has impacted the housing market massively over the past year, with house prices falling for four consecutive months, bans on in-person auctions and open houses, and a moratorium on rental evictions.
Despite the tumultuous conditions, industry experts are forecasting a sensational spring, with market sentiment remaining high and a 'mini-boom' on the cards when all restrictions are lifted.
Check out the state by state breakdown of current market conditions and what experts are predicting for spring, as well as a national outlook below.
Looking to compare low-rate, variable home loans? Below are a handful of low-rate loans in the market.
Smart Booster Home Loan
- Discount variable for 1 year <=80% LVR
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Monthly repayments: $1,476
- Discount variable for 1 year
- No ongoing fees
- Unlimited redraw facility
Base criteria of: a $400,000 loan amount, variable, principal and interest (P&I) home loans with an LVR (loan-to-value) ratio of at least 80%. If products listed have an LVR <80%, they will be clearly identified in the product name along with the specific LVR. The product and rate must be clearly published on the Product Provider’s web site. Monthly repayments were calculated based on the selected products’ advertised rates, applied to a $400,000 loan with a 30-year loan term.
Harcourts Solutions Group Director, Brendan Whipps, said the Queensland market had been most impacted through the March to April quarter.
"Since May however, we have been trending back to our normal numbers, in fact we had approx 700 groups through our properties every weekend last month, whilst the most we had through the initial COVID period was around 40," Mr Whipps said.
“There are certainly buyers and a heap of demand but little stock on the market at the moment.
"We’re finding that prices are not just holding, they’re actually growing."
Mr Whipps forecasted strong market activity for the Sunshine State, provided there was an influx of stock.
"We completed over 850 appraisals during the winter period which tells me that there are a lot people currently in the ‘consideration phase’.
"Stock is low at the moment but if it starts to flow as confidence picks up, we are going to see big inspections numbers, plenty of buyer competition and multiple offers at properties that come onto the market.”
Chief executive of Harcourts Victoria/Tasmania, Tony Morrison, said the Victorian housing market had been remarkably resilient through the COVID outbreak and extended stage four restrictions.
"People just love real estate in Victoria. When we first went into lockdown in April, our sales probably went down about 30% but then in May we were almost back to normal," Mr Morrison said.
"Overall if you look at the same 6-month period this year, it’s not that different than for the same time last year."
Mr Morrison said the rollback of lockdowns would see houses selling like hotcakes.
“Once lockdown finishes, if you’ve got a house to sell, I can tell you they are selling quickly, getting multiple offers and great prices.
"All things considered the market is good. So far there is every indication that we are going to experience a boom after restrictions are eased and our extremely resilient agents are very optimistic about the spring this year."
Brett Pilgrim of Harcourts Pilgrim, said although COVID had stunted market activity in South Australia, house prices had remained relatively steady.
"We have certainly seen less desire to go to market and across the board less listings, this has really given the buyers less choice and therefore maintained pricing pretty well across the board," Mr Pilgrim said.
"We are finding that what we are bringing to market is going really well at the moment and numbers at open for inspections have actually increased.”
Mr Pilgrim said he wasn't expecting there to be a mountain of new properties come onto the market in spring, and tipped some of the best buys to be found offline.
“Initially, there was concern we could have a large influx of property that could affect prices and although I think that comes at some stage, to a degree I still think people are holding back which to us feels like the spring market will hold quite well.
"Even though there seems to be not too much online, I think a lot of agents like us have a large number of off market opportunities, so if you’re looking to buy, talk to local experts on what they might currently have for sale.”
New South Wales
Nicole Jackson of Harcourts Jackson Power Property, said it appeared spring selling season had started early in New South Wales, with buyers needing to be well-prepared to nab their dream home.
"If you’re a buyer, you need to be at the very first open for inspection as properties are just not lasting," Ms Jackson said.
"There are also probably a record number of off-market properties being sold at the moment so I think you need to be very clear on what you are after, speak to agents and be in constant contact with them.
"Make sure you have your finances organised too, homeowners are not going to wait for finance clauses to be realised, there is so much demand that they really don’t have to."
Chief executive of Harcourts WA, Paul Blakeley, said the Western Australian housing market had gone "a bit nuts", partly due to the government's HomeBuilder scheme.
"At the start of the year values started to improve so before COVID hit we were gearing up for a big year," Mr Blakeley said.
"Uncertainty set in when COVID first hit but we then bounced out of the blocks really fast due to low interest rates, government incentives and high buyer demand.
"Vacancy rates are also way down so the market is really ticking along a lot better than anyone anticipated.”
Mr Blakeley said stock had tightened going into spring, so buyers with their finances in order early were putting themselves in the box seat to be able to purchase a new home.
"In terms of buying, if you are in the market now, I would suggest getting pre-approval from your bank as soon as possible.
"Do your research, get finance approval and if you see a property you like, don’t wait, get your offer in and make it a competitive one.”
Vicky Devine, chief executive of Mortgage Express, said the pandemic had caused people to reevaluate their finances and potentially save themselves thousands.
“The home loan space has quickly adapted to the impact of COVID-19 conditions, moving to meet changing “market variables” and customers taking advantage of various eligible stimulus packages," Ms Devine said.
"Overall, we have seen an unprecedented home loan market that has been driven by refinance, first home buyer activity and pre-approvals as customers prepare for spring."
Ms Devine urged potential borrowers to have an open line of communication with lenders to put themselves in the best position possible to buy a house this spring.
"The preference is to not be caught up in an urgent sale process and be in control.
"Lenders are working hard to provide suitable and agreeable options, but I suggest customers get on the front foot, talk to your broker and be clear on all your options."
The entire market was not considered in selecting the above products. Rather, a cut-down portion of the market has been considered which includes retail products from at least the big four banks, the top 10 customer-owned institutions and Australia’s larger non-banks:
- The big four banks are: ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac
- The top 10 customer-owned Institutions are the ten largest mutual banks, credit unions and building societies in Australia, ranked by assets under management in November 2020. They are (in descending order): Credit Union Australia, Newcastle Permanent, Heritage Bank, Peoples’ Choice Credit Union, Teachers Mutual Bank, Greater Bank, IMB Bank, Beyond Bank, Bank Australia and P&N Bank.
- The larger non-bank lenders are those who (in 2020) has more than $9 billion in Australian funded loans and advances. These groups are: Resimac, Pepper, Liberty and Firstmac.
Some providers' products may not be available in all states. To be considered, the product and rate must be clearly published on the product provider's web site.
In the interests of full disclosure, Savings.com.au, Performance Drive and Loans.com.au are part of the Firstmac Group. To read about how Savings.com.au manages potential conflicts of interest, along with how we get paid, please click through onto the web site links.
*Comparison rate is based on a loan of $150,000 over a term of 25 years. Please note the comparison rate only applies to the examples given. Different loan amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees and costs savings, such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may inﬂuence the cost of the loan.
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