The changes impacting the Upper North Shore market as lockdown lifts

5 ways COVID restrictions have changed the Upper North Shore property market.

On Monday 11 October, lockdown finally ended. We’re free to move about again (well, at least within Greater Sydney), free to see family and friends, and free to do many of those things we’ve been missing for the past 107 days.

Over this lockdown (and the one in early 2020), we noticed many things about the Upper North Shore property market changed. Now, as we emerge from COVID restrictions, we believe many of these changes will become permanent.

Here are five ways we think our local property market will change forever.

1. People will demand more space

One trend that has been very evident over the last 18 months is that people have wanted more space in which to live. That’s probably not surprising given that more of us are spending more time at home than ever before.

We’ve seen more people than we can ever remember renovating their homes to get extra living space, extra bedrooms or a home office.

But we’ve also seen a lot of people upgrading into larger homes, especially four- or five-bedroom homes with a substantial backyard. This is putting upwards pressure on house prices, which are rising more quickly than apartment prices by some distance. In fact, since the start of 2021, the median price of a Sydney house has risen 25.8%, while the median price of a Sydney apartment has risen 13.1%.

It’s also putting pressure on median prices in suburbs with larger family homes. For example, data shows the median house price in Killara lifted from $3.15 million to $4.179 million since March 2021. That’s a rise of 32.67% in just six months.

2. Technology will be part of the sales process

As real estate agents, we were restricted in the way we had to show properties throughout the lockdown.

Open homes were replaced by one-on-one appointments, physical auctions were replaced by online ones and we began signing contracts digitally too. We also started carrying out virtual or video walkthroughs – both for sales and rentals – so that people could get a good sense of a home without being physically present.

We can now hold open homes, so long as we stick to strict limits on the number of people per square metre. We also need to make sure everyone is masked when indoors and provide hand sanitiser. We can also hold socially distanced auctions once again.

But what was interesting was just how well the technology worked – so much so that we know that many of the measures will be here to stay. A lot of people found that online auctions provided a more relaxed environment than a traditional auction, without actually impacting the ultimate sales price. We had some solid results using this method right through lockdown, including 87 Roland Avenue, Wahroonga, 11 Valley Park Crescent, Turramurra and 172 Burns Road, Turramurra. We may see auctions becoming hybrid affairs, with some people attending in person while others choose to participate online. We also sold several properties to buyers who’d never physically set foot in a place, and bid from overseas or interstate.

3. An auction sale may not always be the default

While many properties that would have gone to physical auction were sold via digital auction, we actually sold more than ever using other sales methods like expressions of interest – but most notably there was a rise in off-market sales. In this sales method, the property never actually ‘goes to market’ in the traditional sense – that is, it isn’t advertised through the major property websites. Instead, we use our database to contact buyers we know are likely to be interested in the home.

We’ve always sold some properties off-market, but usually, these have often been premium or unique homes. During the lockdown, we started selling a greater range of properties off-market – again with strong results.

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As we’ve been selling more properties this way, a lot more people have become used to this sales method and they’re now comfortable with it. Vendors like the unobtrusive and private nature of an off-market sale, while buyers often like that it doesn’t feel as pressurised as an auction. They also tend to like the anonymity it can give them.

4. People’s horizons will expand

With so many more people working permanently from home and others now only going into the office one or two days a week, proximity to the CBD has become less important. People are much more willing to make a 45-minute or hour-long commute when it’s not something they need to do every day.

As a result, we’ve noticed a lot more interest in suburbs further North that can offer real lifestyle benefits. A lot of people are being drawn to places like Berowra and Mount Ku-Ring-Gai, which offer a rare setting close to the stunning Hawkesbury, as well as to Ku-Ring-Gai National Park.

We expect prices for family homes in these areas to rise strongly over the coming years and we’re excited to be able to service buyers looking to move into Sydney’s near north through our Hornsby office.

5. The Upper North Shore will perform strongly

Given the emphasis more people are placing on living space, family time and the outdoors, we believe there’s little doubt the Upper North Shore will be one of Sydney’s top-performing areas in the near future. Where else can you find the beautiful parks and playing fields, A-grade educational facilities and top-notch transport links, combined with some of the best housing stock available anywhere?

As lockdown ends we expect to see more properties come onto the market as a lot of potential vendors were waiting for lockdown to be over before selling. We’ve had no shortage of buyers, but we also expect to see more active buyers now that they have more opportunity to “shop around”, and see more properties, more easily, in person.

For this reason, we’re excited about what the future holds and believe demand can only grow for our part of the world. So if you’re looking to buy into Ku-Ring-Gai or Hornsby, we suggest you make the move as soon as you can.

If you’re interested in buying or selling on Sydney’s Upper North Shore, contact our experienced team today.

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