What an alert level 3 change will mean for the Auckland property market

Under alert level 3, property viewings are allowed, REINZ confirming they're to be a maximum of two per property, per day.
Under alert level 3, property viewings are allowed, REINZ confirming they're to be a maximum of two per property, per day. Photo credit: GettyImages.

Auckland property buyers are waiting for a move to COVID-19 alert level 3 so they can arrange to view properties in person, real estate agents say.  

Buyers who pushed back their property settlement date due to lockdown will be able to move house. And those who have signed agreements with conditions to be met can fulfill them.

This Wednesday marks the fourth week of the strictest lockdown for Auckland, the rest of New Zealand having moved to 'Delta level 2' on September 7. On Monday afternoon, Cabinet announced Auckland will stay in alert level 4 for another week, until 11.59pm on September 21. Following that, an in-principle decision has been made that Auckland will move to alert level 3.  

Auckland real estate salesperson Wendy Sadd from Barfoot and Thompson told Newshub during lockdown, the level of buyer enquiry continues to be "very strong".

Once the alert level changes Sadd anticipates a backlog of buyers waiting to view properties.

"On some properties I've got lists of up to twelve people...that's already over a week's worth of viewing," Sadd said.

Mike Robson, real estate salesperson at Ray White Damerell Group, told Newshub some properties selling during lockdown were priced by negotiation, with a forthcoming auction.

"As soon as we get into level 3, we'll designate an auction date...at the moment, it's by negotiation," Robson said.

One property, based in Mt Eden was listed on August 18, the day before the first day of COVID-19 lockdown.  

A Sale & Purchase Agreement has been negotiated and signed between buyer and seller (vendor). But it's conditional on the buyer viewing the property, and being satisfied with it. That requires a move to alert level 3.

"It's an unconditional offer except for just viewing the property and that [they're] happy with it," Robson explained.

The buyer had been looking for at least 18 months and wanted to make a decision, Robson said. The offer gave the vendors (sellers), an elderly couple working to a deadline, a "level of certainty".

"If it falls over for whatever reason, we've got enough buyer interest to call an auction in a couple of weeks once we get into level 3," Robson added.

With Auckland in level 4 lockdown for another week, REINZ chief executive Jen Baird said buyers who are interested in properties could talk to real estate agents about ways to view them remotely.

"Anecdotally, we have seen more activity and interest [during] this lockdown which is partly due to agents having the tools to assist buyers to purchase with confidence including 3D virtual tours, drone footage, comprehensive photography, floor plans and video walk-throughs," Baird said.

Regardless of alert level, as buying a property is a major purchase, REINZ reminds buyers to do their due diligence and seek legal advice before entering an agreement.

Under level 4 rules, properties can be viewed online. Under alert level 3, property viewings can be arranged, but visits will be limited to "two per day, per property".

"Real estate agents can show the property with the written consent of the vendor, and provided physical distancing, contact tracing, face masks and all health requirements are met," Baird explained.

Releasing it's August data, property listings website realestate.co.nz said it had the lowest level of stock on record. Once the alert level lifts, and with Spring now underway, pent-up demand is expected to bring more activity in the coming months.

"We do expect a usual uplift in market activity with alert levels easing around the country, although this may be delayed as COVID-19 restrictions differ, particularly in Auckland,"  Baird added.

The Business NZ website states that under alert level 3, open homes can happen remotely and one-on-one viewings and pre-settlement inspections may be possible.  Further details on viewing properties during alert level 3 can be found here.