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5 tips for home buying season during COVID-19

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Home buying seasons to consider

Spring selling season is typically the busiest time of year for the real estate market but this year could be very different thanks to COVID-19.

Here are some tips if you’re thinking of buying a home or selling during COVID spring selling season.

What is the spring selling season?

Spring selling season is known as one of the best times of year to sell a house because there’s usually a bigger pool of buyers out looking for properties after being in hibernation all winter. A bigger pool of buyers means more competition, which can push up property prices - which is awesome if you’re trying to sell your house.

Gardens also look more spectacular in spring with flowers out in full bloom and the weather beginning to warm up. If recent research (and the lines at Bunnings) is anything to go by, many people have spent COVID lockdown sprucing up their homes ready for sale.

What to expect this spring selling season

While spring selling season is normally the best time of year to sell your house, this year may be flatter.

Recent research from CoreLogic found that in the four years prior to COVID-19, the number of new properties listed for sale nationally has, on average, increased by 6.3% between late July and August. But this year, the same period has seen a 9.6% decrease in new listings nationally. But this has been entirely driven by Melbourne, where a 54.9% plunge in property listings in the month to August 23rd accounted for over 100% of the national decline.

In most other capital cities, with the exception of Sydney, the number of new property listings have slowly been increasing as consumer confidence begins to rise with COVID-19 lockdown measures easing.

But CoreLogic head of research Eliza Owen said the property industry should brace for a “subdued spring selling season”.

“Once restrictions are repealed in Melbourne this time around, the recovery in transaction activity is likely to be weaker,” Ms Owen said.

“That is because employment is taking another hit, consumer sentiment is dampened by the reality of a second outbreak of the virus, and a reduction in fiscal support is only a month away.

“Ultimately, the second round of restrictions across Victoria is likely to create a weaker ‘spring selling season’ than in previous years.”

Tips for buying or selling during spring selling season

1. Start your home buying journey early

Sign up for email alerts on real estate websites so that you’re the first to be notified about new properties on the market.
Contact real estate agents in the area you’re looking to buy in and talk to them about the type of home you’re after. If they know you’re serious, they are likely to contact you even before a property hits the internet while they wait for photos to be taken and advertising material to be finalised.

2. Get the right advice

Whether you’re thinking about buying or selling, it’s even more important than ever to find out what’s happening in the property market at a more local level (to find out what the impact could be on your property) as well as what’s happening at a wider level in your suburb and surrounds. Hiring the right real estate agent who is well versed in your local area and understands what buyers/sellers are looking for will be invaluable.

You can also do your own research to find out what’s happening with local property prices and comparable sales in your area by downloading a property report.

3. Stand out from the competition

If you’re selling your house, it’s vital to stand out from the fierce spring competition and increase your chances of a sale. You may want to hire a professional styler/stager and a good real estate photographer who will present your home in the best possible light.

Don’t forget about the exterior of your house either because potential buyers will judge your property by how well (or not) it presents from the outside. First impressions are everything.

4. Don’t be put off by the recession

Whether you’re thinking about buying or selling, don’t necessarily be deterred by the current economic crisis. If you’re buying, there may be opportunities for those who are savvy enough to look for them. As the old saying goes “be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful”.

For those selling, it may be wise to sit tight for a while. If you’re in a position where you have to sell, remember to have realistic expectations about the price and carefully consider each offer that comes in. Of course, if you’re selling in a buyers market you’ll also likely then be buying in a buyers market, so there may be opportunities for you then.

If you’re concerned, it may be best to speak with your real estate agent and get their two cents as they’re actively transacting in the market every day and will have a better idea of how the local property market is tracking.

5. Get your finances in order

Because of the COVID crisis, the banks are looking more closely at borrowers and exercising more caution when it comes to lending to borrowers from certain industries (like hospitality and travel).

If you’re a first home buyer or looking to step up the property ladder, make sure you can prove to the banks that you have a stable income, a sizeable deposit (you’ll often need to stump up to 10% on the spot if you’re buying at auction) and pre-approval so you can move on a home you love quickly.

Make sure you’ve got all your paperwork in order when you start looking. The last thing you want is to miss out on the home of your dreams because another buyer had pre-approval on their home loan and you didn’t.
Understand all the costs involved with buying a home (and selling, if applicable) and give your loan provider all the necessary documents so you can act swiftly once you’ve found the right home for you.

6. Seek out the best home loan rates

Home loan interest rates are the lowest they’ve ever been thanks to the Reserve Bank’s five (yes five!) cash rate cuts, so if you’re buying a home there are some good deals to be had.

Download your free property report now to estimate a property’s true value and compare different properties.

Get free property report

About the article

As Australia's leading online lender, loans.com.au has been helping people into their dream homes and cars for more than 10 years. Our content is written and reviewed by experienced financial experts. The information we provide is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives or needs. If you'd like to chat to one of our lending specialists about a home or car loan, contact us on Live Chat or by calling 13 10 90.

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