Buyers | How to Secure a Northern Beaches Property 2022

16 March 2022

The Upper Northern Beaches local property market remains in hot demand. In 2021 we saw an abundance of buyers flood in, fierce competition and a sharp rise in prices. This year, as we approach autumn, we have seen more stock come on and the market becoming more normalised. The good news for buyers is that with more available, the chances are, buyers are more likely to find a property that suits their needs.

When the real estate market is hot ít can be difficult for homeowners to sell and buy back in at the same level. Now that the market is more balanced, we are seeing downsizers, upsizers and empty nesters who were previously hesitant to make a change, now ready to come to market.

It is important for buyers to have considered sound judgement, understanding that the market hasn’t pulled back, it is still strong although it is normalising. A normalised market is a good time to buy and sell as there is less volatility which means less risk and less risk can make for less stress and anxiety through the buying and selling experience.

Currently, we are experiencing high activity with buyers who are qualified and ready to purchase. The majority of these buyers are first home buyers, out of area buyers, downsizers and investors seeking to secure the lifestyle that the Upper Northern Beaches has to offer as well as take advantage of the current low-interest rates.

In this normalising market, inspection numbers are returning to their usual levels, as are auctions, where last year we had an average of eleven registered bidders, currently the average is four.

2021 Auction Clearance Rates for Cunninghams

cunninghams auction clearance

Buying a property will never be completely devoid of stress and anxiety no matter the market, however, there are ways to take control back. Whilst at times the process can be discouraging, there are ways to position yourself so that when your desired property becomes available you can move swiftly, put your best foot forward with the confidence you need to secure your new property.

Here are my top tips to help buyers who are currently seeking to purchase on the Upper Northern Beaches.

1. Make yourself known to the agent 

If you are keen on a particular property, declare your interest to the agent. Not all agents communicate with high levels of efficiency. If they don’t know you are keen on the property they may leave you in the dark and be negotiating a sale with other more vocal buyers.

For example, recently I helped a client purchase a property in Avalon Beach from another agent. This particular property happened to be the only one of its type on the market, and my client did not want to miss out. So, when the buyer asked for my advice in securing the property, my advice was for him to ask the selling agent this question at the open for inspection… “If I wanted to secure this property today what would I need to do?”

Fortunately, the agent was upfront and clear about the vendor’s circumstances and preferred process of sale. I encouraged my client to move quickly and act fast on the agent’s instructions. He had his solicitor on the phone that afternoon, offered full price and the contracts were exchanged within 24 hours. It was a successful and relatively stress free purchase.

Advice on a strategy to purchase does not come ‘one size fits all’. Buyers’ needs differ subject to personal requirements, timelines, and budgets, and so should the advice take into consideration these variables. It does however always pay to be clear with the agent about your budget capacity and at what level you are willing to let the property go. Other things to be upfront about are your loan approvals versus cash capacity and timing of your preferred settlement, this way, as competing offers come in the agent can keep you informed, help you understand the vendor’s expectations and let you know if the price guide changes.

Also if a property is scheduled for auction, enquire from the agent if they are willing to sell prior, you may want to make an offer but be aware you may not be the only person making an offer.

2. Know your market

Research the market and know what you want. Stay up to date with what comparable properties are selling for. There are movements in the market every quarter which means that the price a property sold for six months ago, or even a few weeks ago, may not be what it would sell for today.

It’s important to be researching on the ground and online, viewing as many properties in person as you can. This helps not only solidify your non-negotiables as well as your possible compromises but also gives you a greater understanding of what qualities increase the price and decrease the price of a property in the Upper Northern Beaches, for example understanding location, aspect, quality of finish, floor plan, neighbourhood, condition and access.

3. Have your finances ready to go

As stated above, properties are still selling within a reasonable timeframe, so there is no time for delays or hold-ups when you find something you want to buy. Make sure all your finances are in order before you start your search so that you are capable of purchasing.

Key Questions

Is your loan approved or pre-approved? 

Are you and your broker sure of your budget limitations or capacity to stretch if needed?
Are all your details and documents up to date? Always make sure that your bank is up-to-date with all your financial information, any changes (even small ones) can affect your borrowing capacity.
How quickly can you offer and exchange? Get confirmation from the bank/broker, that if the desired property comes to market you are certain your loan will come through and you can make an offer swiftly and confidently, and if accepted by the vendor, you can exchange ASAP.

I, unfortunately, do see trouble and stress on the other side of exchange when finances are not approved or in order. If a settlement is delayed or falls through there are hefty fees and large deposits can be lost. No one wants this scenario! Be ahead of the game, stay in close communication with your broker, make sure all your finances are neat and tidy, ready to go so everyone is happy through to settlement.

Do you have a cash deposit ready?

To exchange contracts you will need a cash deposit ready. These funds need to be available and accessible. Usually, the deposit is negotiated and is between 5-10% of the purchase price.

Have you calculated the stamp duty and fees?

Stamp duty and other fees such as solicitor are an additional cost to the total purchase price. It’s important to calculate the stamp duty and have that factored into your budget/loan. You can calculate stamp duty here.

Is your conveyancer on call?

You will need a solicitor or conveyancer ready to read the contract for sale, advise you, negotiate terms, transfer deposit, have contracts signed and exchanged for you. I would advise you to let them know you are actively looking for a property just in case you see the right thing and have to move quickly. If you need help finding a solicitor or conveyancer I can send some local contacts.
*Terms to know (see bottom of the article) – Offer & Acceptance, Gazumped, Exchange of Contracts, Cooling-off period, 66W, Settlement.

4. Turn up at auction to bid

Many properties at the moment are selling by auction rather than private treaty (if not sold prior) so it’s good to be auction ready. Many buyers worry about the auction process, but it tends to be the most transparent and fair way to buy a property. You can see the competition, you know where you stand, and everyone who has registered is given the chance to bid.

Prior to the auction meet with the agent and be very clear about your intentions. You want the agent to work alongside you to help you buy the property.

*Terms to know (see bottom of the article) – Reserve Price, On the market, Passed in, Vendor bid, Settlement date.

5. Register for off-market opportunities

Many great properties may not even make it to market before they’re snapped up.
One ‘off market’ property I am currently managing with my colleague Mark Bryant is 46 The Serpentine Bilgola Beach which we are showing by appointment. It is advisable to register with your agent for any off-market opportunities so they can keep you informed of these opportunities as they arise.

46 The Serpentine Bilgola Beach

If you do everything in your power, and you still miss out, don’t fear, properties are always coming to market and these trends do go in cycles – seller’s markets don’t last forever, they do at some point cycle back into buyer’s markets.

If you are looking to buy in the Upper Northern Beaches and would like help finding the right property you can contact me on 0424 053 355 or on email.

If you’d like to track the value of your home, compare recent sales and find out how much your property is worth in the current market, you can get your free estimate here.

HELPFUL TERMS TO KNOW

Contract of Sale – The contract of sale is a legally binding agreement between the owner and the buyer of the property. A contract for sale covers all the legal matters, rights and conditions of the sale/purchase. The contract must contain a copy of the title documents, drainage diagram and a current Zoning Certificate (section 10.7) issued by the local council.

Offer & Acceptance – If you make a verbal or written offer, you are one step closer to owning the property but it doesn’t mean that you have finalised the sale. Before exchanging contracts, the seller may negotiate with other buyers for a higher offer, even if you have made an expression of interest payment.

Exchange of Contracts – Exchanging contracts legally completes the process of buying a home. Up to this point, the agreement is not binding and both you and the vendor have the right to change their minds.

There will be two copies of the sale contract: one for you and one for the seller. You each sign one copy before they are exchanged. This can be done by hand or post and is usually arranged by your solicitor, conveyancer or agent.

At the time of the exchange, you will be required to pay a deposit.

Gazumped – While gazumping is not illegal it is an incredibly disappointing experience for the unsuccessful buyer. Gazumping occurs when a seller accepts your offer, however before you get a chance to exchange contracts the seller decides to sell to another party and exchange contracts with them. While at times this is outside the agent’s control a good agent will communicate very clearly your position and what is required for you to secure the property and avoid such a situation.

Cooling-off Period – a standard contract comes with a 5 business day cooling-off period after you exchange contracts. During this period, you may get out of the contract as long as you give written notice.

A cooling-off period does not apply if you buy a property at auction or exchange contracts on the same day as the auction after it is passed in.

If you use your cooling-off rights and withdraw from the contract during the 5 business day period, you will forfeit to the seller 0.25 per cent of the purchase price.

66W Certificate – is a document signed by the buyer’s solicitor or conveyancer that waives all the buyer’s cooling-off rights. This usually happens when the buyer has completed all their checks and due diligence.

Building and Pest Report – This is a written report on the current condition of a property and possible risks. It’s designed to provide you with information about the property so you are fully informed of any potential concerns relating to the condition of the property. Sometimes these have been prepared in advance by the selling agent.

Reserve Price – The lowest price at which the vendor is willing to sell at auction. If the bidding does not reach this number, the property does not have to be sold.

Passed In – If a property does not reach the reserve price, and the vendor does not want to reduce the reserve price to the current highest bid, the property ‘passed in’, meaning no sale is made.

Settlement Date – The date that the buyer completes payment to the seller in full and takes legal possession of the property. The settlement date will be specified in the contract of sale but is typically between 42 days after the auction or the date contracts were exchanged.