The local market for housing and commercial property is rapidly returning to record form claims James Cooper, general manager at Harcourts Real Estate.
Cooper doesn’t believe the market has been negatively impacted much by the Covid lockdown, with few people putting property sales on hold, only a handful delaying until they can see the impact on demand, and Harcourts having had no sales cancelled.
He says on the residential front competition for property was high leading into Level 4 and buyers remained keen to close the deal which is reflected in the record prices and a seller’s market.
“The latest April data from the REINZ property report highlights a record median price for Hawke’s Bay of $648,000 with Hastings District ($645,000) and Napier City ($700,000) also achieving record median prices.”
While ‘days to sell’ increased slightly, they were well below the long-term average. “Since moving into Level 2 our teams have seen good demand from buyers and our open homes have had strong interest possibly due to pent up demand (and) we’re still seeing multi-offers on properties, which is a good sign.”
Cooper is expecting momentum to gradually build over the coming 12-18 months, contradicting the traditional market slowdown heading into an election period.
“Job certainty will have an obvious impact on sentiment, but other factors such as the cash rate and regional economic drivers could offset some of that.”
There may be an increase in mortgagee sales by those unable to service loans through the crisis, particularly as the wage subsidy tails off and unemployment rises.
However, Cooper says the government has signalled that homeowners need to discuss options such as mortgage holidays with lenders and people taking up this option are finding some relief.
He says there’s strong local demand for domestic and commercial properties, with out-of-town buyers only making up a small percentage of sales. If big city buyers did start showing greater interest that would only benefit the current seller’s market.
“I’ve become a Hawke’s Bay evangelist since myself, my wife and two children moved here in 2012. This area has so much going for it, we need to reinforce that and broadcast the message loud and clear.”
He says Harcourts use of Zoom videoconferencing technology during lockdown resulted in greater connectivity with sales teams, including daily training sessions, and resulted in “fast forward” for the introduction of new technology into the business, such as digital signing.
“These new efficiencies mean we can provide even greater service to our clients and run business as usual, but not in the usual way.”
A major learning for Cooper was a Zoom session with All Blacks mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka, who provided a great way forward “in this post-Covid world – health is the new wealth, vulnerability is the new strong, and kindness is the new cool.”
Editor’s note: Here’s Simon Tremain’s similarly upbeat ‘read’ on the HB housing market.