How Level 4 affects my current house sale plans

You were all ready to put the house on the market and then Level 4 lockdown happened. What do you do now?

25 August 2021

15 Alford Street, Waterview

You were just getting ready to sell your house in August or September, liking the idea of stealing an early march on the busy October selling season, when Level 4 lockdown happened and upset your plans.

But real estate experts are saying there’s no reason to be downhearted. Buyer demand is still incredibly strong, and among the bad news of Covid-19 in the community came the good news from the Reserve Bank that interest rate rises were not as imminent. This will have strengthened some buyers’ resolve to act sooner rather than later.

Harcourts managing director, Bryan Thomson, says the best idea is to be in good communication with the real estate agency that you’re planning to appoint to sell your home. The lockdown, inconvenient though it is, can be seen as an opportunity to vendors, he says.

“We’re inside our homes, so it’s a good time to get our properties ready for the market. It’s time that we wouldn’t normally have if we were away working during the day,” he reasons

Take advice over Zoom or other tech on what needs to be done to the property from your agent, he advises. Have good discussions over how best to approach the market, and the timing of the sale, on hitting the market as soon as possible post Level 4, he recommends.

Buyers are still serious about taking action

Sellers should take heart that buyers out there are serious in their intent, notes Bryan.

“I think one of the things we know is that buyers are not acting on a whim, they have very genuine reasons for wanting to buy and that doesn’t change. Buyers are very active. There have been a lot of very good sales made over the last few days in lockdown,” says the Harcourts MD.

If people do hold back, there will be a flush of listings when lockdown Level 4 lifts, he predicts. It’s in everybody’s interests to be ready to go, he adds.

Bayleys National Director of Residential Sales, Johnny Sinclair says: “The fundamentals haven’t changed at all. We’re still at low interest rates, there’s a lot of money out there, and with great buyer demand, you can sell with confidence.”

Sellers should have a Plan B

When selling your home, the key is to throw the net as far and wide as possible, so everyone knows about it, adds Johnny. He understands why people might have been looking to sell in August or September, because they didn’t want to compete with the hordes.

His advice to sellers, anxious to take anxious, is to get real clarity on your next move. What are you trying to achieve, do you want to upsize, downsize, what do you need to be able to do to enable that next move, he asks.

“Make sure you’ve got a clear Plan B. If you don’t receive the outcome that you want, then what's plan B? This gives you confidence on whether you have to be motivated to sell or not.

Forget about a plan, but try to be prepared

You can’t really plan at the moment but you can be prepared, says Emma Duncan from Anne Duncan Real Estate in Mt Albert. She’s had a few calls from anxious sellers this week.

She’s told them, as soon as Level 3 happens, the market bounces back straight away, so it’s just a case of waiting and seeing for now.

If you’ve just launched your house sale, you can always pull it off and relaunch it. It depends how far along you are, she says. But don’t forget there’s a housing shortage and housing stock is very low.

Meanwhile, getting the house on the market at Level 3 is definitely an option, she adds. You can have two viewings a day, and have a good number of serious buyers through in a week.

“In Level 3, agents can qualify buyers and make sure they’ve got the right price bracket. In a normal open home you’ll get 20 to 30 people but only three who are genuinely interested,” she says. With private viewings allowed at Level 3, the agent makes a time to show the home to qualified interested parties. And these are quality buyers rather than neighbours or buyers just starting out,” Emma says.

Or you may prefer to wait for Level 2 when you can hold open homes again. There’s plenty of time before the end of the year to sell, says the Anne Duncan agent.

Meanwhile, if you’re wanting to get the home ready, do some decluttering and gardening, and perhaps reach out to a home stager or a trades person and make a tentative date for them to come to the house.

“Set things up as much as you can, so as soon as you get to Level 3, that person knows that that booking is there in the first week they can go to homes,” she says.

How current new listings are faring

For sellers who decided to go ahead with the planned sale, once the news broke of the lockdown on August 17, they’re largely seeing extremely strong demand, good Trade Me watchlist activity and overseas inquiries in some cases.

Private sellers, Sue and Ross of Mt Eden, put their Paice Avenue home on the market on Trade Me on Sunday August 22 and they have no regrets.

Private sale: 9 Paice Ave, Mount Eden

“I thought we may as well take some photos and just put it up, we’ve got nothing to lose,” says Sue. And they had an overwhelming response within minutes of putting the details up. They’ve had inquiries from overseas and from locals, thanks also to doing a mail drop to the surrounding 50 homes. The four bedroom, two bathroom home close to Dominion Road might well be a good opportunity to upsize for neighbours. 

The couple have had the house valued and have based their price expectations on that, sharing that information with buyers.

Level 4 lockdown makes no difference to some marketing campaigns

Some properties lend themselves very well to being listed during Level 4 lockdown. Blair Watson of Kellands, has just brought to the market an apartment in the $2 million plus price range, in Wynyard Quarter. A corner apartment In a Willis Bond building, known as 30 Madden, it’s currently under development.

30 Madden Street, Wynyard Quarter

“It’s an ideal property to market during lockdown because it’s not complete, so we can’t show it anyway. Since we put it online late Friday, we’ve had about six or seven inquiries through various portals which is really good. we wouldn’t have expected many more (in normal times) at that level,” says Blair.

Ray White Damerell Group Mt Albert agent Jamie Morrison has brought a Waterview home to the market on August 19 despite Level 4 lockdown. The “Best in Show”1950s bungalow in Alford Street really is the best available home in Waterview currently with very few available alternatives, says Jamie, who’s been selling in Auckland’s city fringe for the last 13 years.

“There was never any thought of not launching the home for sale, in fact we saw the change in operating conditions as more of an opportunity than a disadvantage,” says the Ray White agent.

The response so far from buyers has been very good, says Jamie. “One advantage of Level 4 is that buyers have more available time to search for, and research property. As agents, we’re also more available as we’re not in appointments, so it’s really a win-win situation for those who wish to make buying decisions.”

Once qualified buyers have been identified, he can offer them the opportunity to do a virtual open home with the vendors, says the Ray White agent.

Buyers can take this time to prepare themselves to purchase, then take a quick look through the home once Auckland is at level 3 to confirm their decision to purchase, he adds.

Having said that, Jamie notes: “Don’t assume that this home property will be available as we move into Level 3.”

On the Waterview property, interested buyers should register their interest as soon as possible so they can be included in any of the decisions the vendors make, he advises.

At this point, the auction date for the Waterview home is scheduled for September 15. “We never make assumptions around how a campaign will progress. We’re however poised to react immediately to the buyer interest of each campaign,” says Jamie.

15 Alford Street, Waterview

To homeowners thinking of listing soon, Jamie says now is the time to start the dialogue with an agent.

“Call us to discuss how to maximise the current operating conditions to your advantage,” he says. List now, and be ready to launch when the best moment presents itself.

“Remember we’ve operated under these conditions before and had incredible success,” he adds.

Ray White Wynyard Quarter agent, Dylan Tracey brought a picture perfect Kingsland villa to the market on Wednesday August 18.

“We planned for it to go live Wednesday and got the news Tuesday evening that we were going into lockdown. We felt like the first lockdown there was a lot of uncertainty, but now that we’ve had a few, there’s no disadvantage. Everyone’s at home spending time online,” he says.

High viewership rates on current listings

The response has already been very encouraging, says Dylan. “We looked at Trade Me and over 300 have added the property to their watchlists, with 4000 views so far, so we’ve felt there was no disadvantage on being on the market during Level 4.”

The inquiry from text, calls and email has been really strong, and a number of groups want to visit as soon as possible, says Dylan.

34 Second Avenue, Kingsland

The Ray White agent expects as we head into spring there will be an increase in listings, so it’s nice to be on the market when there is not as much competition.

He’s glad the vendor opted for including a video for the home. “Now, it almost serves as a walk through, and the floor plan is extremely important for the 210 sq m home,” says Dylan.

Meanwhile, when it comes to helping people with their planned listings in the coming weeks, anything you can do now to save time when levels come down, is a good move. You can use Docusign to sign up with an agency, and spend any extra time at home sprucing it up, he says.