The lifting of Queensland’s border restrictions has sparked a surge in virtual home inspections with previously hesitant interstate buyers coming off the bench to set up a fresh boom.
Data by Brisbane firm Little Hinges – which provides millimetre-accurate virtual models of homes that’s shared online by agents with prospective buyers – found virtual inspections rose in the first two weeks of borders opening in Queensland with more to come as buyers get their first chance to cross borders unhindered.
Little Hinges co-founder Josh Callaghan said Brisbane grew in popularity in 2021 “but after the border opening that seemed to accelerate that demand”.
“A number of buyers sitting on the sideline who haven’t had the confidence that they could get on a plane and see the property, suddenly with the borders opening can come up here,” he said.
Over a third of Sydney buyers looking at property inspections online were focused on Queensland, Little Hinges found, of which 23.97 per cent were Brisbane homes, 1.13 per cent Cairns, 8.03 per cent Gold Coast, 4.65 per cent Sunshine Coast.
It found 14.08 per cent of Melbourne buyers were also looking at Brisbane homes, 5.8 per cent Gold Coast and 3.87 per cent Sunshine Coast.
Brisbane buyers were mainly looking within Brisbane 77.4 per cent, 10.04 per cent on the Gold Coast, and 7.14 per cent Sunshine Coast.
Real Estate Institute of Queensland head Antonia Mercorella said 2021 had revealed that many people were prepared to buy site unseen, especially for investment properties, working off virtual tours.
But she said the majority of owner occupier buyers especially still preferred to be able to look through properties themselves, setting Queensland up for another surge in interstate interest with borders reopening.
“What s extraordinary is even with borders closed and tough restrictions we have seen lots of interstate investment, so now with borders reopened – because we know the vast majority prefer to see the property – I think we’re only just starting to see the impact. We’re probably going to see a lot more interstate investment and a lot more purchases once they’re able to get across the border.”
Mr Callaghan said the data pointed to Brisbane in particular being in for another strong year in terms of real estate demand in 2022.
“The predominant place that people in Brisbane were looking to buy was still in Brisbane – they were staying put – but since the border opening, demand from Melbourne and Sydney has almost doubled,” he said. “So you have all the existing Brisbane buyers but now also a whole lot of extra competition from people trying to move north.”
Another interesting trend picked up was the rise in Gold Coast buyers now looking at property in Brisbane (65.18 per cent) and buyers from smaller capitals like Adelaide and Perth also hunting in the River City.
“I think we’ll continue to see a greater demand from Sydney and Melbourne as we go through 2022, as more of those buyers come off the bench, Both Sydney and Melbourne have had a couple of record transaction months which will mean that there will be a new wave of cashed up buyers form southern states which is likely to continue the interstate migration trend.”
This comes after Canstar research found that in 2021, Aussies were more likely to purchase a property site unseen (11 per cent) than a pet, vehicle (10 per cent) or boat, with 8 per cent willing to rental property without inspecting it in person.
Canstar editor Effie Zahos said the pandemic had accelerated digital adoption with half the population in lockdown at one stage, and buyers unable to inspect homes during a time of surging housing prices.
“If you are considering buying a home sight unseen, or even committing to a rental, it’s imperative to do your research beforehand. A property is a huge financial commitment, regardless of whether you intend to live in it yourself or use it for investment purposes.”