Living in cities has always had an advantage over regional areas when it comes to the arts, career options, income and choices for eating out.
But while society has been homebound during COVID-19 isolation, people living regionally have claimed the huge advantage of big backyards, acreages to roam in, beach views and easy access to beautiful, socially isolated locations.
This fact hasn’t gone unnoticed on the market, with agents from Merimbula to Batemans Bay noticing the buyers’ market picking up considerably during the past few weeks as city dwellers plan ahead for potential future pandemic scenarios.
“Pre-COVID-19, we were already noticing a trend towards people wanting to live cleaner, go back to basics and have space for a veggie garden,” says Merimbula agent Kim Poso.
“That, combined with what’s happened with COVID-19, has resulted in an uptick in regional sales.”
While things were quiet during the tightest restrictions, in recent weeks Kim has seen a flood of enquiries.
“We’ve just had the first few calls from people living in Sydney or Melbourne, some who grew up in the Bega Valley, who are ready to make the move to regional areas,” she says. “And part of that decision-making has been the experience of self-isolating in the city.”
Further north, Kate Quinlivan, an agent with Raine & Horne Batemans Bay, says buyer demand has been strong across all price points but especially for high-end properties.
“We’ve just sold a Broulee property for $1.3 million which didn’t even hit the market,” says Kate. “We also had a similar property in Malua Bay which was sold during the height of COVID-19 restrictions, sight unseen.”
Sellers, on the other hand, says Kate, seem to be waiting to see how things play out with COVID-19 before coming onto the market.
“We’ve got a real lack of properties coming onto the market, and cash buyers ready to go,” she says.
According to Kim, sellers are taking note of negative predictions for city markets as a result of a COVID-19 downturn.
“We’ve got lots of people sitting on their hands, which is to be expected when there is any doubt about the future,” she says.
The realisation that many professions can work from home or otherwise remotely will have a positive impact on regional sales, according to both Kim and Kate.
“During COVID-19 restrictions, systems were put in place to ensure people could work remotely and this proof will likely make it easier for employees to convince the boss they can live regionally and still do their job to a high standard,” says Kate. “It’s making people who were thinking about moving think, ‘Yes, let’s do it.'”
Domestic travel is likely to take off in a big way during the next few years as a result of international travel restrictions, making investing in a weekend escape or holiday rental a good bet, says Kim.
“The real estate sector did slow considerably during the height of COVID-19 restrictions but I feel very positive about the near future,” she concludes.