Under New Zealand Lockdown, Can I Still Sell My Home?

Yes you can! Although the way we agents are selling homes is changing in line with Alert Level 4 restrictions that have been put in place in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. We’ve been adapting our selling processes quickly to allow sellers and buyers to continue transacting from home.
Can you still help me?
While real estate isn’t considered an essential industry, we’re still able to help over the phone or online through video call via Skype or Facetime. We must self isolate like everyone else and we can no longer hold face-to-face meetings with you or potential buyers. We are also unable to hold open homes, on-site auctions or private property viewings.
How will house inspections work?
Open houses have been cancelled due to the lockdown and mandatory self isolation, but we are still able to organise virtual tours and digital inspections where people aren’t required to leave their homes and no in-person contact occurs. Digital inspections can be conducted in a number of ways.
We can film a 3D walk through of your property and list that video alongside your property listing online, send it in an email or upload it to a streaming service such as YouTube or Facebook. These walk through videos can range from a simple image slideshow to a detailed video where we discuss the property on camera, show footage of the home, and include emotive music to capture the ambience of the space.
Another form of digital inspection we can use is a live stream. We can use a platform such as Sykpe, FaceTime or Zoom, or a streaming service such as YouTube or Facebook, to engage with prospective buyers in real time. Using live streaming services allows us to answer questions from viewers in real-time.
The occupiers of the property do the filming while the agent and the buyer are watching the screen and discuss the details of the property and give live instructions on what to capture so the buyer can make a good decision.
Should I avoid auctions and stick with a private sale?
Although on-site auctions have been cancelled, auctions are still able to go ahead online and over the phone. An online auction operates under the same rules as a public auction. We will send buyers a link to an online auction service along with instructions on how they can register to bid ahead of time. To bid, buyers must submit their ID and credit card details and be approved by us. Once approved, the platform will put a hold on their credit card. When the auction begins, buyers will be able to place their bids through the live stream, as if they were there in person.
An alternative to the live online auction involves buyers sending off bids, similar to the way eBay works. For buyers who aren’t tech-savvy, there’s always the option of registering to bid over the phone, again, just like in an on-site auction.
What about the settlement?
The New Zealand Law Society (NZLS) recommends settlements be deferred until after the Alert Level 4 restriction is lifted. Your conveyancer will need to make appropriate amendments to the contract to facilitate this in the existing agreements. NZLS suggests that a clause be inserted into new agreements that are drafted over the lockdown period to defer settlement until after the government reduces the Covid-19 level to level 2 or below.
Will the value of my property be affected by Covid-19?
At the moment, it’s difficult to predict. Corelogic predicts there could be 20 per cent fewer residential properties sold this year than in 2019. When looking back at the 2008 recession data, prices went down 6 per cent but bounced back within a year. The current situation is different because once the lockdown is lifted, people can get back to business so it may recover pretty quickly. The recovery will likely depend on factors including unemployment and how long the lockdown period lasts.
I’ve sold my property, when can I move out?
Under the level 4 restrictions, owners are unable to move into or out of properties. Travel is restricted to essential travel only so settlements and moving house should be deferred until after the Alert Level 4 restriction is lifted.
While selling your property might look a little different to the way it did before the Covid-19 pandemic, we are working hard to adapt to the changes and make it possible.
What happens after the restriction levels, Patrick?
Once the restriction levels are lifted the procedure of buying and selling property is more than likely changed. I am working on other ideas for marketing property. Future proofing the business but also to secure any successful outcome because one thing won’t change: Every vendor wants a successful sale at the best possible price, in the shortest space of time and with the minimum fuss. To maintain this a seller needs an agent who is marketing and tech savvy but is also an excellent negotiator.
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