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The new focus on quality neighbours

By Anthony Cowie

Agents are proactively calling homeowners and boldly asking the big question “would you sell”? Here’s what I think you should do when you get that call.

These days, while the market is continuously making headlines and breaking records, we’re spending our days doing as much advising as we’re marketing and selling property. In some ways, my team and I consider our roles to be that of advising homeowners; posing questions that cause them to think bigger than the immediate offer or the bull market that presents itself to them. Often that means not selling, sometimes it means waiting, and other times it means hitting “go” instantly.

What we’re seeing today is homeowners on the Lower North Shore scrambling to get a handle on the market we’re in and how it affects them personally. Property is so deeply rooted in Australia’s wealth creation and, as a tax free asset, the family home is a particularly precious commodity. The misinformation about this market is rife, in fact, there are a lot of questions agents can’t answer themselves. Yes, we can confirm the market is strong, but if you’re not someone who professionally engages with local property on a weekly basis, plunging in can be short sighted.

What I can tell you is the following. There is, unquestionably, a shortage of supply. There is the overwhelming reality of low interest rates impacting many investment decisions. There is an influx of ex-pats returning to our enclaves in the next 24 months, driving local prices up. There are consistently strong prices being achieved and sales are occurring in a matter of days not weeks. These are all the markers of a hot market. But should all of those factors force you to sell? That’s a precarious and precious thing to ponder.

Homeowners are naturally curious to know what their home might be worth in this bull market, but our question to them is “what would you do if you did sell?”.

Price is less important than your plans
Before we even contemplate price expectations, if people don’t have a clear and shared vision of what they’d do with the proceeds of their property sale (whether it’s uprooting to a quaint hobby farm, relocating to the coast, transferring to a townhouse with a garden, or downsizing to a modern apartment with harbour views) I tell them to go back to the drawing board.

Indecision is a killer in this market. If you sell, but haven’t agreed on the next step, you find yourselves in a costly limbo. If supply continues to shrink and you’re out of this market for six months, you could be in serious trouble.

Personal situations in property differ dramatically. Consider factors like timing for school-aged children and proximity to their education, whether or not you have a mortgage on your house, weighing the benefits of downsizing and purchasing investment properties. The variables are vast.

The hottest new property characteristic for today’s buyers
COVID-19 has impacted priorities for today’s buyers. Bricks and mortar are just one piece of the property puzzle. People don’t just seek to live in Cammeray, for instance. They are now particularly focused on key streets, and in some cases specific sections of streets. They ask about the community, the neighbours, demographics, the interests and hobbies of their nearest residents. Are nearby neighbours young professional parents too? Do they ski? Are they social? How old are their kids? Is there the prospect of us all holidaying together?

One of the great examples of the changing priorities of buyers is the demand for areas like Lumsden Street in Cammeray where the average tenure for homeowners is 17 years. Some owners have been there over forty years, others just a decade but the low turnover is now a serious selling point for buyers. Community is key. The world has changed around us, buyers are seeking stability and continuity in their communities. We now spend more time at home and the definition of home seemingly has new meaning.

We’re often asked if neighbours know of any babysitters up and down the street. They want to know if the couples on either side are social and welcoming. They need to know there’s a prospect of kids playing together and the likelihood of dinner parties.

As a proud Scotsman growing up in a tiny northern seaside village, Helmsdale – famed for golf, salmon and herring, I’ve always valued community. I personally welcome the new buyers in the Lower North Shore prioritising this too. One of the few upsides of COVID-19.

For advice on your property in this market, speak to Anthony and his team.

Anthony Cowie
Director, Cammeray – LREA
+61 405 285 502
+61 (2) 8969 4120

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