Insights | The Market & You

16 December 2020

Fresh from our 2020 Insights Report. Download here. This article covers some key insights to help you make the best decisions on your property journey in 2020 and 2021 – whatever stage you’re at. Below you will find useful advice for First Home Buyers, Investors, Families & Upsizers, and Downsizers.

Skip to the right section for you:

  1. First home buyers

  2. Investors

  3. Familes & Upsizers

  4. Downsizers

First Home Buyers

The key question that first home buyers often ask – is this the right time to buy?

The first home buyer market is probably one of the most volatile market segments, due to the initial fears around the implications of making such a huge commitment. Right now, this is one of our most active segments and first home buyers are quite dominant in the apartment/home unit space although there is some competition heating up with investors re-entering the market.

Confidence in this market drives the decisions made, and it also depends on who else is competing in the market for the same product. Traditionally, the main competition for first home buyers came from investors, but now downsizers; sea changers and unfortunately divorcees are playing a more active part in this market segment. However, the savvy first home buyer has their finance in order early and is doing proper research to ensure they are making informed decisions, knowing it is a great time to secure their first home or investment on the popular Northern Beaches.

Looking back on 2019/20 it has been a great time to enter the market for first home buyers due to the record low interest rates, lower levels of investors for part of the year, as well as the various first home buyer assistance and concessions currently available.

The Northern Beaches usually miss out on opportunities due to higher values but right now there are some opportunities in the sub $650,000 to $800,000 space for both 1 and 2 bedroom units that are being rapidly snapped up by the pre-approved first home buyers wanting to secure their first property as soon as they can.
Some examples of the current stamp duty concessions are: at a sale price of $700,000 there is a saving of $16,000, at $750,000 a saving of $8,000 and a sliding scale up to an $800,000 purchase price.


If we are to sum up the investor sentiment over the past 12 months in one word it would be “cautious”.

But the irony is that if you look at the current market, now is maybe not a time to be cautious! The current anomaly of very high demand and relatively low supply is proving to be a bonus for property investors with our average rent over the last 90 days up from $765 per week to $800 per week and with the average leasing days on market down from 26 to 12 over the same period, it’s a great time to be holding property.

With interest rates low and stable and with low risk borrowers being actively sought after by the banks, it is the perfect time to look at the equity in your current home and see if you can leverage the opportunity to either start or expand your property portfolio. With current market conditions making many property investment prospects almost neutrally geared, the risk factors are being minimised by increased rents, low vacancy factors and high demand.

The other bonus is that properties which have scope for improvement are showing greater yields on the investment with the actualisation of the improvements resulting in higher rents and faster letting to a higher quality tenant. A quality property will attract a quality tenant and we are consistently seeing good results when a property is presented well.

The impact of Covid-19 has so far been short lived when it comes to the investor market, and although we cannot predict the future, the net result has been an increased desire to live on the Northern Beaches to enjoy the lifestyle we all know and love. This is where investors are starting to see opportunities again.

The prognosis is that in the foreseeable future the limited capacity for further large scale developments is currently limited to Dee Why central. This is unless the State Government moves to create mini Town centres such as Balgowlah Stocklands throughout the region to change this dynamic.

Upsizers/ Families

This is our biggest market segment and we all know why – the growing family needs space and as a result of Covid-19 many people are redefining what sort of space they need.

This segment dominates the current market and in fact, this is the space where we have the lowest supply of properties due to the fact that more people want to live here than leave here. Interestingly, we have also seen a large increase in our “On The Quiet” sales with buyers pushing to find out first and beat their competition at every opportunity.

The use of buyers agents has also increased in this market, with families wanting to take the stress out of buying and having someone do the groundwork for them. Buyers agents have been very active in the market, trying to bring things to a head with their keen buyers pushing hard to wrap things up quickly.

The other big insight that we have found from this segment over the past 5 years has been the prolific evidence of knockdown/rebuild or major transformation projects that upsizers have been embarking on. In the past there was much concern about the prospects of over capitalising on the value of the property, but this is no longer the case. The desire from the market to buy totally completed new homes or renovations has changed everything, and the value is in most cases always secured. Once buyers find the location/lifestyle combination they generally stay put and invest heavily in their homes. This strategy seems to be paying off, with this segment so far showing the best growth in values by far.

While there have been many locals with concerns around schooling and high enrolment numbers in some catchments, there have been major building works and renovations to many schools including Manly Vale, Freshwater and North Curl Curl, with more in the pipeline. There is also the planned mega high school at Frenchs Forest and the huge expansion planned for St Luke’s Grammar, and these expansions will hopefully relieve some concerns for residents in those areas, giving another reason to stay in their current homes.


With the Baby Boomer generation now mostly in retirement or transition to retirement mode, it is no wonder that this market segment has been an emerging growth area.

While we are still seeing a high level of buyer activity, this year has seen a high level of caution in this space due to safety/risk factors of Covid-19. We predict that once we get back to some type of new normal these buyers who have been sitting on the fence will be jumping in head first.

In the past many people in this segment were selling up and heading to the regions to retire but things are changing and we are seeing emerging trends that in many ways really don’t surprise us.

When we talk about the desirability of the Northern Beaches and the opportunity to “have it all” the prospect of downsizing to a more suitable property and staying in the city area has seen the push towards the village/beach lifestyle as the driving force. The new developments on the Northern Beaches simply cannot meet this demand and it will require the Northern Beaches Council to reconsider their current medium density policy to expand the opportunities for locals to stay local in retirement.

Selling the big family home and buying the newish apartment or townhouse sometimes, but not always, leaves a bit of change to put into Super or for those fortunate enough to have a strong nest egg in place. It gives downsizers the opportunity to look at the possibility for what we could call the “surf and turf” option, an apartment near the beach in the city with a rural escape home or alternatively a city bolthole with a coastal retreat.

With the advent of Covid-19 and the work from home options that became available, many people in this segment are foregoing the normal “retirement” way and opting for a less hours and a more remote work style as they shift their lifestyle into a new phase.

Click to download our first edition of Insights, the Northern Beaches property market report.