Written by John Williams
However, we've been here before, and we have learnt from past experiences and have every confidence that we will be able to carry on delivering the same great service in a virtual environment.
Our entire team is working at 100% of our normal capacity – we’re simply working remotely, as opposed to coming into our respective offices. Every team member of Ray White Damerell Group is continuing to work hard to ensure our customers are receiving the very best guidance and service during these trying times.
Our recommendation to vendors who are keen to sell their properties, but who haven’t started the process yet, is to contact one of our sales agents now. There is plenty of groundwork we can get on with that isn’t being disrupted by lockdown, such as getting our compliance team to fully review the property, processing AML, and to start working with your solicitor on the sale and purchase agreement. With all this in place, it means we can take offers from day one after moving to Level 3, says Joe Hurn, Sales Director at Ray White Mt Albert,
“We can also start pencilling in appointments with marketing professionals, such as photographers and videographers, with the knowledge that if lockdown gets extended, we can simply push the dates back. This is a better option than just waiting for the lockdown to end and joining the back of the queue of sellers trying to get ready for the Spring and Summer market.”
For those vendors who have already started their campaigns, we are continuing to witness active engagement from buyers online – like all of us, buyers are at home and turning to property portals with the added time they have. Print publications are not in circulation right now, but we're seeing traditional print media companies pivoting and innovating to get their customers in front of buyers digitally.
As there are no open homes allowed under Level 4 for properties currently on the market, it’s about gathering interest, qualifying buyers, and helping buyers prepare to buy – such as connecting them with a broker to get their lending arranged.
Ray White Damerell Group is very proud to be one of the leading agencies for online auctions during lockdown. We ran a very successful auction last Wednesday at 12pm, on the first day of lockdown, with approximately 14 bidders. We then ran nine auctions at 5.30pm on the same day, all online, with a live-stream that anyone could tune into and watch. So, selling by auction is still the best option to market a property, as it allows our clients to have the best chance of a premium, cash sale, says Hurn.
During the previous lockdown(s), we did transact a few 'site unseen' sales. Typically, however, buyers may still require conditions that need access to the property, such as building inspections, or for a valuation. These can be done once Auckland moves down a level. Hurn says that so far during this lockdown, some clients have conducted virtual viewings where they've 'walked' potential buyers through their homes over a video call, with the salesperson on the call to assist with any questions.
As we move down to Level 3 (we believe the same rules will apply as last time), buyers can make private appointments to view properties. Appointments are limited, which means that our sales teams will be working hard to qualify buyers before showing them through properties as a priority, and in the best interest of our vendors. This ensures we are showing the best, most prepared buyers through. It's therefore our advice for buyers to get themselves as organised as they can, such as getting their lawyer to look through all available documents and get pre-approved for lending, advises Hurn.
Our partners at Loan Market have told us that settlement dates will be ‘shuffled out’ until five days after lockdown is finished, or we move into an alert level that allows movement. No penalties should be involved, but our advice is for buyers and vendors to communicate with their lawyers regarding this.
Ever since the last lockdown, the Ray White Damerell Group compliance team have added clauses that specifically to come into play, should a lockdown affect a buyer’s or seller’s ability to move. These clauses ensure that our customers are protected. Settlement is simply deferred until buyers and sellers can safely move, which is mutually agreed upon through the lawyers for each party.
If your current agreement does not have a 'Covid' clause, your lawyer can still negotiate an amended settlement date with the other party, which is basically what happened during the 2020 lockdown. The key thing is to check your sale and purchase agreement and ask your lawyer as to the status of your agreement – and, if necessary, the parties can agree on a new settlement date. There are limited situations where settling is possible under Level 4, so talk to your lawyer to see if you fall into one of those categories.
The Reserve Banks’ announcement last week that it will keep the official cash rate (OCR) on hold is likely to bolster the market in the short term. CoreLogic chief property economist Kelvin Davidson said that given the move into lockdown, it was no surprise the Reserve Bank delayed an increase to the OCR.
“Even though uncertainty is high right now, inflation was above target and employment is high, so there is still a case for higher rates, and the outlook for continued rises was a headwind for the market,” he said. “But assuming short lockdowns, not much has changed in terms of the property outlook. Our view is that sales activity and price growth are close to (or at) a peak, and that both will ease for the rest of 2021 and into 2022.”
For more information about buying and selling during Covid-19 Level 4, please refer to this page on the Real Estate Authority (REA) website, or give one of our agents a call, who will be able to walk you through your options.
Please bear in mind that this is a stressful time for all parties involved. Please be kind and considerate to each other, stay safe and reach out to those in our community that may appreciate a call to check in .