2020 started out with a lot of promise. The market was booming, property prices had rebounded from their 2019 lows and buyers were well and truly in the thick of it. By late March with COVID-19 firmly on our shores, the market was feeling the pressure of impending lockdowns that have effectively lasted until the end of September.

The response to the COVID pandemic has resulted in a huge overhaul to the way we sell property, particularly in Melbourne due to our extended lockdown period.  As we emerge from the other side of the COVID bubble, some of the changes implemented during the lockdown may be here to say. What is the best way to navigate these changes?

 

How are buyers behaving differently? 

Right now, buyers are very cautious. The implementation of a fully digital process has meant a lot of information the buyer might have obtained throughout regular inspections and engagement with agents is not occurring. An agent posting a video of the property is hardly going to focus on the negative aspects that a buyer may be concerned with.

The Spring season is set to be quite competitive, with many vendors having held off on listing until on-site inspections and auctions can be held once more. This has meant many buyers have been able to take the opportunity to become more prepared than ever before, including spending the time to buffer their savings and deposits, and ensuring pre-approvals are in place. This will mean greater confidence and preparedness for many buyers, so expect there to be heavy competition in this space.

Buyers are also focusing on areas that aren’t traditionally their norm – for example a lot of younger families are looking further down the coast and away from the CBD for their next purchase. The ability to work from home has made a substantial impact to where people are now considering buying (and renting) and the type of property they are considering. For instance, additional rooms with space for home gyms, a home office or study nook and perhaps more areas both in- and outdoors for entertain and recreation.

 

What digital processes are here to stay?

Throughout 2020 we’ve seen many new digital processes implemented in the sales journey. This has included digital appraisals rather than in-person, virtual and video inspections, and online auctions. Online marketing via realestate.com.au and Domain have long been established, but the rise of social media, YouTube, AI and other means has occurred over the past months.

Some of these processes may be here to stay, though some are certainly not an improvement on the existing methods used. Digital appraisals may continue with some agents getting quite good take-up of these options, in-person valuations may only occur on certain properties too where there is a question about certain aspects or elements. Online auctions have been a bit hit and miss, there are some properties selling but for the most part the volume of online auctions simply hasn’t been there for us to glean any meaningful information. This could be something for remote or international buyers to utilise however, on-site auctions will definitely return in some format as soon as possible.

 

How are agents behaving differently?

Agents have been heavily impacted by the changes seen in 2020. Many of them have had to learn new online and digital skills, navigate their way through the challenges of social media and take on a completely different approach to selling property throughout the year.

Private sales have been far more popular than auctions, with some agents having to relearn the art of negotiation where before they primarily sold at auction. They’ve also had to get creative in the way they are marketing homes, which was beginning to heat up anyway as they dipped their toes into the world of social media and embraced online opportunities.

 

Will the way we market property change?

A lot of agents utilise digital channels to market properties already including email lists, home listing websites and social media platforms. Property is typically listed wherever the buyers are looking. Some agents are putting a fair bit of creativity into the promotional videos they are creating for properties and listing on YouTube. What could be next? Tik Tok’s, Snapchat or something else? Watch this space!

We are also seeing the emergence of a greater number of off-market properties being sold. These are properties that are never formally listed online anywhere and are quietly marketed to prospective buyers by email, text, phone call or through Buyer’s Advocates. Having a strong relationship with your Real Estate Agent, Vendor Advocate and their networks is crucial if you choose to sell your property off-market.

 

Will the way we sell property change?

Many people don’t sell property very often, in some instances they will do this only a couple of times their whole lives. So having a team (or an entourage) of people around you when you sell will put you in good stead.

Anyone looking to sell would do well to chat with an Entourage Property Vendor Advocate before jumping on and listing their home. We help you find the right agent, select the best marketing activities, and project manage your sale through to settlement amidst this new and highly competitive property market. Like a broker, a Vendor’s Advocate can negotiate with third parties such as agents and buyers on your behalf, you get an expert in your corner with many years’ experience and it doesn’t cost you anything extra than if you went direct to the agent.