LIFE IN REAL ESTATE – ALEX BAKER FROM BARFOOT & THOMPSON REMUERA

LIFE IN REAL ESTATE DURING COVID19 FOR LEADING SALESPERSON ALEX BAKER FROM BARFOOT & THOMPSON REMUERA

I’ve been selling in Remuera for over 23 years and still one of the most thrilling things in real estate is putting up the sold sticker! In lockdown that wasn’t possible to do (although one of my vendors’ children had a creative solution). But come level 3, I was quick to act! So 58 Victoria Ave and 4B/416 Remuera Rd, both now have lovely yellow SOLD slashes on them!

As you can see, I have been quite busy since our world changed and also very fortunate in that during lockdown I managed to conclude 3 sales – 2 unconditional and 1 conditional, with a combined value of over $10million. So that has been a real thrill and proof that we can continue despite the hurdles thrown at us, particularly when everybody involved cooperates and goes the extra mile. In two of the transactions, the purchasers had seen the property prior to lockdown, but for one they had not been through (they have now, so fingers crossed!).

In terms of the general face of real estate during lockdown it’s certainly been an interesting ride and a quite different way of operating. I’ve had more meetings and training sessions via Google meets, hangouts and Zoom than I could imagine. Not to mention FaceTime calls and DocuSign. If you’d asked me 2 months ago what most of these things were, I wouldn’t have had a clue! So there’s definitely been lots of upskilling, although in terms of transacting, everything happens at a much slower pace. 

With respect to buyer enquiry over the period, in a sense its been a game of 2 halves. Some properties have received excellent enquiry, while others sadly, very little. It perhaps tends to confirm my theory that no matter what the state of the market, quality or “special” properties always do well, but if a property has any possible concerns or hooks, or may be of appeal to a more limited sector, then in good times it will be fine, but in more difficult times it may falter or take longer.

Not surprisingly, total sales volumes for April were very low, but prices pretty much held up and were still at levels higher than 2 years ago. However, many of the sales were actually transacted in March, but concluded in April, so the real impact of Covid19 won’t be apparent until the May statistics are available next month. General interest so far in level 3 seems to indicate genuine purchasers still keen to buy at fair prices. In my view, the road ahead may be a little rocky, but the residential market should remain relatively strong. However sales volumes will probably decrease as I suspect many people will “bed down” for the longer term. In Auckland we still have a significant supply and demand imbalance.

Overall I’ve really enjoyed the difference and working from home. As my partner Bart says, I’ve never spent so much time in the kitchen! One thing I have particularly noticed is the more relaxed pace and joy of having “weekends” and not having to rush off to open homes. Having said that, last Sunday was virtually like a usual one: As I said to our auctioneer, “today is almost like normal…It’s pissing with rain, and I’ve had some viewing appointments as am getting wet…except instead of putting up my open home flag, I’m donning gloves and armed with wipes…oh, and I also did an appraisal!”

You have to laugh, as who would ever have thought this would be a real scenario!

And as a final plus during lockdown, I’ve had to adjust my exercise regime. So no gym routine, but living in Mission Bay I’ve been able to supplement it by enjoying many walks along the waterfront and surroundings, as well as to Remuera and back. And on my way I’ve loved the effort so many people have made to reach out and show they care by putting bears in their windows. Consequently I’ve taken lots of photos. Here are a few of my favourites.

Hopefully this time next week we’ll be heading to level 2, and much closer to getting back to a new normal – whatever that is! Bring it on!

Cheers

Alex Baker

Barfoot & Thompson Remuera

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