Many wealthy Australians are leaving the city and heading for the hills, or the beach, desperate to find a luxurious hideaway from which they can work and play.
Relocating to some of the country’s most desirable regional locations is an unexpected silver lining for the prestige property market after the pandemic resulted in strict lockdowns, social-distancing measures across the country, and a ban on in-person inspections and onsite auctions.
It didn’t stop buyers from house hunting online, though, and that’s translated into a surprisingly active year for many regional real estate agents in Sydney’s northern beaches, Northern New South Wales’ Byron Bay, Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, South East Queensland and Tasmania’s east coast.
“We’re very busy and we weren’t expecting that back in March,” McGrath Estate Agents Avalon senior sales consultant James Baker said from the Northern Beaches, 50 kilometers north of Sydney.
“We were expecting it to be a tough time up here. Last time there was a recession and downturn [after the global financial crisis] the Avalon Beach, Palm Beach, Newport market was very slow,” he said.
More than a decade on, it’s a different story. People were already starting to work from home and change was occurring, Mr. Baker said, and the pandemic has only accelerated that trend.
Meanwhile, the introduction of more reliable and faster internet services, coupled with the acceptance from businesses to allow their staff to work remotely, has also helped facilitate the trend.
“Some people are still working out whether this will be a long-term thing and there’s a bit of uncertainty among our clients. But for many who have holiday homes in New York, Greece or closer to home on Hamilton Island in Queensland, they can’t get to them,” Mr. Baker said.
“They’re very wealthy and they want to know they’ve got a place to get away to,” he added. “Everyone is looking for lifestyle and safety.”Northern Beaches
The increase in demand is putting pressure on prices in the Northern Beaches area, predominantly on properties valued at A$3 million (US$2.14 million) or more.
Homes such as the luxurious five-bedroom, five-bathroom property on Pittwater Road, Bayview, with 180-degree views of Pittwater and Lion Island, sold in September 2015 for A$4.4 million.
Five years later, it hit the market again, this time in the middle of the pandemic. It attracted three offers, and although the sale price is confidential, Mr. Baker confirmed it sold for more than its A$5.5 million price guide.