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Hamilton real estate industry sees major shift in home buyer behaviour post lockdown

Hamilton real estate industry sees major shift in home buyer behaviour post lockdown

Lodge Real Estate’s managing director Jeremy O’Rourke, says buying and selling a home in New Zealand will never be the same again following the Covid-19 lockdown. 

“We’ve had our first full month of home sales post-lockdown and the Hamilton market has seen a huge shift in buyer and seller behaviour.  And it boils down to one fundamental factor: Kiwis’ move to online living.

“We all experienced how videoconferencing went from a novelty to a necessity.  Online shopping went from something you do infrequently to weekly, even daily.  And everyone has moved online, including the older generation we can often wrongly assume are not.

“This online shift has had an enormous impact on how people are now buying and selling homes” he explains.

He says three trends, in particular, have abruptly become business-as-usual for home buyers and sellers.

“The first shift is how social media and web listings have eliminated the casual open home attendee.  Buyers used to plot out their open home viewing schedule for the weekend.  Agents would see many people through open homes but most were not serious buyers.

“Now, buyers can perform a virtual open home online, either by looking through photo galleries or doing an actual walk-through with the aid of virtual reality technology.  This shift means open home attendees are seriously interested in the property as they’ve already done their homework,” says O’Rourke.

He said the second trend is the shift away from newspapers as a buyer’s essential tool.  “Home listings in the newspaper aren’t generating many enquiries post-lockdown.  This is due to people’s comfort with the instantaneous and ubiquitous nature of online listings – you don’t have to wait for the paper to see the new homes on the market.  You can view listings at any time of the day, anywhere.”

But curiously enough, O’Rourke says buyers are picking up glossy magazines that pair lifestyle features with current real estate listings.

“Buyers are drawn to listings placed in magazines that also include related home and living articles.  This is an international trend that is now taking off here in New Zealand,” he says.

O’Rourke says New Zealander’s shift online has markedly impacted enquiries into the Hamilton market.  “The rise in Aucklanders and returning ex-pats looking to move south has risen noticeably post-lockdown.  We believe this is due to the fact that working from home is the new norm which means you can live and work in Hamilton and easily commute up to Auckland, say, once a fortnight. 

“Couple that with the fact that the Huntly bypass is open, the same investment gets you a bigger house in Hamilton plus the lifestyle benefits suit professionals, families and near-retirees.  Interest in Hamilton is only going to skyrocket from here,” O’Rourke predicts.

The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) released residential market statistics today showing Hamilton hit a record median house price in June at $660,000, which is up from $647,000 last month and from $555,000 one year ago.

As compared to one year ago, June sales were stronger than June 2019 with 260 house sales across Hamilton city as compared to 254 one year ago.

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