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  • Property market continues to roar, even during NSW lockdowns

Property market continues to roar, even during NSW lockdowns

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Samantha is a Sydney-based real estate and home improvement writer. She is currently Head of Marketing at OpenAgent.

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You’d think with the current lockdowns and a new COVID variant circulating in the community, the market would significantly slow. But according to agents on the ground, not much has actually changed, apart from a heavier reliance on technology and a move to one-on-one inspections. 

Should we have expected the market to slow? While demand has historically taken a hit during lockdowns, agents say current market conditions in Sydney feel a little different this time ‘round. 

According to Kristina Lee, co-director of Belle Property St George, buyers, sellers and agents have all been conditioned to adapt very quickly to transacting real estate in a lockdown. 

“We’ve been prepared since last year; 2020 was a scramble, but because we’ve instigated systems, we quickly slipstreamed into how we are meant to behave,” she explains. 

Like many other agencies, Kristina and her team expected an extended lockdown could come again, so they worked hard to put all the processes in place. From Docusign and more in-depth marketing to conducting inspections via Facetime, no stone has been left unturned. 

“All our IT is set up, all our staff can work remotely, and we know how to follow the health advice and operate in a COVID-safe way,” she says.

Will current property prices hold?

CoreLogic data shows that Sydney home prices have increased 15 per cent over the past year, and many regional areas of the state have also enjoyed a hefty rise in values. As long as the real estate industry can operate, this upward trend is unlikely to reverse, even with the Delta strain circulating in the community. 

According to Kristina, there is still a strong appetite from buyers, and she doesn’t expect prices to take a tumble. 

Sydney vendors are pivoting their selling strategies in line with the extended lockdown, with withdrawal rates and the proportion of auctions sold prior being well above average. 

According to the Australian Financial Review, while last weekend 17 per cent of properties were pulled from auction and rescheduled, Sydney still recorded a healthy clearance rate of 76.5 per cent, showing that buyers are still out in full force. 

“I think that people understand that the demand is there, and because a lot of our clients have missed out, we keep carrying them over to the next property.

“They don’t muck about; when they’ve missed out, they don’t want to miss out again—we’ve exchanged 13 properties since lockdown,” she says.

With listings still lagging behind, current sellers are reaping the rewards, with supply and demand factors still playing a major role in properties achieving record prices. The days of lowballing or trying to nab a bargain are simply over. 

“Stock levels are so low at the minute, and people understand that. They understand that if they’re going to muck around, they will lose, and will need to start the whole process again,” she says. 

20 Weston St, Revesby
Kristina and her team recently sold 20 Weston St, Revesby. Guiding $1.1m, the property sold within two weeks and prior to auction for $1.3m. Source: Belle Property

Agent Rob Gansl, from Illawarra Estate Agents says that demand for property on the coast is still high, and while the volume of people coming through the doors may not seem as high, the enquiry rate hasn’t dropped, and buyers who do inspect are more qualified. 

“We’re still seeing a high volume of people through doors, instead now they’re lining up and waiting in cars to inspect the property individually,” he says. 

Kristina Lee also notes that the buyers she sees are qualified and ready to go; in this environment, neighbours and curious people just watching the market don’t really attend open homes. 

“Normal open homes facilitate those people, but because we’re stepping into a different methodology, you don’t have that. What you’ve actually got is very keen, qualified and serious buyers. 

“We’re selling quite a few properties prior to auction and they’re selling within one to two weeks of hitting the market,” she says. 

Belle Property are also holding virtual auctions, with one Lugarno property being auctioned online this Saturday. 

Sellers advised to get their ducks in a row

Agents are advising those who are considering selling their properties to start preparing now. 

“I say to clients, you should really consider getting all the groundwork done now whilst you’re in lockdown, because a lot of this stuff can be done virtually and remotely," says Kristina.

“Getting all the paperwork ready can take two weeks, so there goes half a month. That’s why we’re doing a lot of this preparation virtually and advising clients on what they need to do.

“All the solicitors are doing everything virtually now too; nothing is actually stopping, we’ve settled so many properties.”

As we’ve seen in previous lockdowns, the market tends to go through a ‘catch-up’ period once restrictions are lifted due to pent-up demand. 

“Listings will spike right after lockdown—people will be out in droves," she says.

“We can only make decisions on what we know today, and today, we know that demand is high, so I suggest people get on it as soon as they can.” 

Rob says that there’s no harm in having your property appraised in the current market and going live when you’re comfortable, but if you want to sell now, it’s entirely possible and you’ll still get a great result. 

“You need to remember that there are so many buyers out there who have their pre-approvals. They’re not about to sit around and just wait for that pre-approval to lapse," he says.

“If they’re allowed to go and inspect, they’ll be out there, and that’s certainly what we’re seeing in the current environment.”