Remote working is here to stay, and there’s ‘race for space’ underway


Relocation trends to lifestyle markets

Pete Wargent, co-founder of Australia’s first national property buyer’s agency network BuyersBuyers, says that remote working is here to stay in Australia, and that homebuyers are relocating accordingly in a ‘race for space’.

Mr Wargent said “2020 saw an interesting shift in interstate migration trends in Australia. In recent years the strength in Melbourne’s jobs market had been attracting Australians from interstate as well as from overseas, and in record numbers. But as the protracted lockdowns began to take hold, this internal migration trend went sharply into reverse, with south-east Queensland and Australia’s coastal regions among the main beneficiaries”.

“While most permanent migrants to Australia typically head for Sydney and Melbourne, being the most well-known cities with the greatest employment opportunities, south-east Queensland has always been the favoured destination for Australians residents relocating internally due to a combination of the state’s relative housing affordability, climate, and lifestyle: Mr Wargent said.

Following a lull through the financial crisis and beyond, interstate migration into Queensland has recently been running at the highest level in a decade-and-a-half, at the strongest pace since the early days of the resources boom.

The net population inflow into Queensland was more than 30,000 for interstate moves, for the first time since 2005, with coastal lifestyle markets such the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast becoming increasingly popular.

Figure 1 – Interstate migration in Australia

Remote working is here to stay

Mr Wargent of BuyersBuyers said that “during 2021 there has been a marked shift towards ‘tree-change’ and especially coastal or ‘sea change’ markets, with a rush of city buyers moving outwards to compete for a limited supply on in-demand stock”.

“Surveys conducted via the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that while many Australians will ultimately return to the capital cities, the trend towards working remotely is expected to persist for many more businesses than in the pre-pandemic period”.

“We’re finding that, for example, tech businesses are now having to offer flexible working arrangements as a matter of course, due to the border closures and skills shortages, which is serving to accelerate the remote working trend” Mr Wargent said.

Figure 2 – Working from home trends (Reserve Bank of Australia)

“As buyers get a taste for living in lifestyle locations, many will doubtless choose to stay for the long term” Mr Wargent said.

2021 restrictions and border closures

While life in Australia was close to normal in the first half of 2021, the third quarter of the calendar year brought about lockdowns for more than half of the resident population, making interstate movements impossible for many residents of the two most populous states.

Furthermore, in some states there have been strict rules around the inspection of properties for sale, which have impacted housing market turnover, and transactions have declined sharply, especially in Victoria.

Despite the restrictions, buyers continue to make relocation plans, leading to an upturn in the demand for ‘on the ground’ assistance from buyer’s agents.

Mr Wargent of BuyersBuyers said “Australia has different real estate legislation and terminology across the states and territories, while each market has its own nuances and conventions”.

“To buy successfully in such tight conditions, with so little stock available for sale on the market – about 30 per cent fewer listings than normal – buyers need to be well-informed and decisive, with an ability to move quickly when the right opportunity presents itself”.

“A specialist professional buyer’s agent can save buyers time, cost, and stress with their search, due diligence, and negotiation skills” Mr Wargent said.

How buyers use an agent for interstate purchases

There are a number of key steps involved in purchasing a property interstate.

Mr Wargent of BuyersBuyers said “first and foremost, you need to know your likely purchase price, and consider the financing accordingly. How much do you want to spend, and how much can you reasonably afford to spend?”.

“Once you have an approximate purchase price in mind, then we can assist with market research, in terms of the type of property you should look to buy, and in which suburb. Only after this stage would we look to engage an expert buyer’s agent to commence the property search to prepare a shortlist of candidate properties for your consideration”.

“Given that housing markets have their own legislation and regulation, demographic trends, preferred dwelling types, and infinite nuances, engaging a buyer’s agent ‘on the ground’ with local knowledge is strongly recommended” Mr Wargent said.

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