The coronavirus crisis has shaken up the Melbourne property market, prompting buyers and sellers alike to ask - have we seen the worst?
Residential transactions plummeted 40 per cent in the city in April, as both buyer demand and new listings fell away, according to CoreLogic.
The property data firm also recorded a 0.3 per cent fall in home values that month, and Finder experts forecast 9.2 per cent — or $73,000 — could be wiped from a typical Melbourne house by 2021.
Citywide rental vacancy rates rose from 1.9 per cent in March to 2.8 per cent in April, with Southbank notably recording a shocking 13 per cent figure, according to SQM Research. This had an immediate negative impact on rent prices.
But the Victorian Government reviving face-to-face auctions and open for inspections with attendance limits from 11.59pm, May 12, is already having a positive impact, with more than 2000 new properties listed on realestate.com.au in the days following the resumption.
KR Peters director Peter Nicolls says this is a good start to the market’s recovery, as a bounce back will rely heavily on “stock and supply”.
“If buyers are presented with a smorgasbord of stock, then we will see a bounce back,” he said.
Mr Nicolls says he’s already seeing spikes in sales across the southeast corridor.
“There are hotspots at the moment around Officer and Clyde North, where the average price tag is $600,000,” he says.
“There are still buyers out there, and that shows me the market is strong within that price mark.
“We are also finding, much to our surprise, that our open for inspection numbers have been exceptionally good. People are still actively looking for property.”
Mr Nicolls adds “soft landings” put in place by the state and federal governments had “protected the economy from a catastrophic downturn” and ensured the market “has not been as hard hit” as anticipated – both of which would allow for a speedier recovery.
But he notes houses at the top end of the Melbourne market have, and will, be harder hit by the pandemic.
“Buyers aren’t rushing out to secure million-dollar properties right now,” he says.
“They are researching, taking their time and trying to find a bargain.
“We could be waiting six to 12 months for the property market to really take off again.”
Speaking to the Herald Sun, Propertyology director Simon Pressley says he expects the city to recover rapidly, given Melbourne was a strong market before the pandemic, and pent-up demand is sure to kick in when lockdown is lifted.
“During past crises, the property market has always bounced back before anything else,” he says.
“We’ve got the lowest interest rates in Australians’ lifetimes and people will want to be back in the market as soon as they can be.”
But Mr Pressley does expect a spike in unemployment and closed international borders to stifle the recovery, noting the longer Victoria took to lift restrictions, the further property prices could fall.
Realestate.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee says the return of open for inspections and auctions – and with them, a “feeling of normality” - in New South Wales from May 9 caused “the decline in listing numbers flatten out a little bit”.
She expects the same to occur in Victoria, now the state is following suit - a big “positive for the market.”
Realestate.com.au data also reflects sustained buyer activity, with searches for Victorian properties up 40 per cent on this time last year.