While COVID-19 has sent ripples throughout all sectors of the real estate market, Managing Director of Match parent company M/Group Lloyd Clark said that the negatives would be short-lived, while the positives would have a longer-lasting impact for the apartment sector.

“Just as quickly as Perth moved through the restrictions, enquiries returned,” he said. “The disruption had significantly less impact that initially anticipated,”

“Firstly, we saw the apartment industry reinvent itself to provide highly digitalised access to apartment spaces.”

“Equally, our market became adept at reviewing possible investment opportunities online.”

“For a sector that deals significantly with off-the-plan products, this was really a watershed moment, and when enquiries returned, these people were highly qualified and informed buyers.”

Mr Clark said the pandemic has created a much-needed shift in a market that has become a little congested with speculative developers on projects that may or may not have come to fruition.

“It allowed everyone in the industry to review risks an introduce risk aversion strategies,” he said.

“What this means for apartment buyers is some developers may have reconsidered their position in terms of new project development, and off-the-plan deposits can now be redirected to solid operators such as Match, which has demonstrated time and again resilience in varying market conditions.”

Edge Visionary Living Managing Director Gavin Hawkins said the developer also witness a spike in enquiries as restrictions started to lift.

“We have seen a huge spike in enquiry as COVID-19 restrictions have eased, and especially following the new government incentive announcements,” he said.

“With equity markets now above where they were little more than 12 months ago, the initial fears have dissipated and buyer confidence within the sector is returning strongly.”

The apartment market had a big change-up in May of this year when new strata reforms came into place offering a variety of changes to how strata acts operate.

From 10-year maintenance plans, to minimum education for strata managers and a more efficient dispute resolution process, it was the largest shake up in decades and one Mr Hawkins said was a plus for buyers.

“It certainly allows for more flexibility in providing a co-ordinated, staged approach to developments,” he said.

“The key take-out, however, is providing more clarity and protections for the buyers which is obviously a good thing for both buyers and the sector.”

Mr Clark said many byers were unaware of recently available stamp duty rebates when buying an apartment.

“This will help purchasers buy into under-construction apartments, as well as pre-construction,” he said.

“This means purchasers can take advantage of the stamp duty rebates and other incentives and may not have to wait prolonged periods to move into an apartment.”

The value of apartments has remained relatively steady over the last ten years, falling just 0.7 per cent in Greater Perth over the period, according to REIWA data, with the median sale price for the year to March 2020 recorded at $378,000. The median unit rental price for March was $340.

The suburb of Perth recorded the most unit sales in the year to March, with 264, closely followed by East Perth (245). Near city suburbs Scarborough (210), South Perth (209) and Maylands (180) rounded out the top 5.

Outer-ring suburbs Rockingham and Mandurah also saw high levels of activity, with 115 and 108 sales respectively.

In terms of sales value, only two sub-regional markets saw an increase over the year to March, with the Perth South West market realising an increase of 2.6 per cent and Mandurah boasting a massive increase of 17.3 per cent.

South Perth witness the biggest apartment sale price of $7,150,000in the year to March while Dalkeith the lower quartile, median and higher quartile sales were all in the million dollar range, with the wealthy suburb recording and 37.3 per cent spike in prices for the year to March. The opposite was true in Crawley which witnessed an equal fall over the period.

Excerpt from The West Australian Property Report, 20 June 2020

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