City real estate may still by in holiday downtime, but the selling season is in full swing around Victoria’s bays.
The focus is on coastal markets as holiday-makers are lured by beach buys, with this Australia Day weekend kicking off auction activity in some areas.
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Peak season has arrived in parts of the peninsula, according to Fletchers Mornington Peninsula managing director Josh Callaghan.
Inspections have been drawing crowds of prospective buyers in Sorrento, Blairgowrie and Rye.
“Holiday-makers down during January use this time to look at property, whether that’s a holiday home or something to retire to a couple of years down the track,” Mr Callaghan said.
Come Australia Day, buyers begin to look more seriously and the year’s first sales campaigns come to a head.
“It’s a bit of a beacon in terms of where the market is at in the new year, and often the first round of auctions for the year,” he said.
This activity flows on to make February and March “very solid” months.
Fletchers will auction a large block with a classic 1970s beach house at 19 Park Rd, Sorrento on Sunday, January 27.
Mr Callaghan said while buyers were being conservative, he had seen a “competitive” side return to private sales following a drop off in the last half of 2018. A property in James St, Rye had notably sold prior to auction with three offers.
While the peninsula had a “different market” to Melbourne, it had experienced some price drops, he said.
“Depending on the particular pocket, there’s been between 7 and 12 per cent off where we were 12 months ago,” Mr Callaghan said.
Conditions were also looking good for buyers around Rosebud and Dromana, as prices had come back by about 10 to 15 per cent in some areas, Hocking Stuart Rosebud and Dromana director Grant McConnell said.
“If you’re a buyer, there’s never been a better time to get into the market because there has been a correction and you will get some very good buys,” he said.
While activity had been slower before Christmas, sales and inspections had been busy through January as tourists came to town.
“A lot of those people become buyers,” Mr McConnell said. “About 80 per cent of our buyers are from Melbourne.”
One drawcard for them was variety in price, he said: “We’ve got property anywhere from mid-$400,000s in Tootgarook up to $2 million in McCrae.”
Sellers were still achieving sales if they were “realistic” and met the market, Mr McConnell said.
His agency will send almost a dozen homes under the hammer this long weekend.
O’Brien Rye director Anastasia Howard said February and March would be strong months for property around Rye, with January holiday-makers returning to buy.
“They start talking to their bank or broker once they get back (from holidays, about whether it’s affordable. Then they come back here and look at what they could possibly buy,” she said.
Ms Howard said while the peninsula offered a wide range, from old-fashioned beach houses up to multimillion-dollar trophy homes, lately most buyers wanted something to enjoy straight away.
“Many people are time poor and they want something that’s done. So we’re finding new and renovated homes, whether they’re smaller $500,000 properties or $1.5 million, are well sought after,” she said.
O’Brien Rye is set to auction a boat shed on the foreshore at 2pm on Australia Day.
Over on the Great Ocean Rd, people didn’t take long to transition from holiday time to home buying, making January the year’s strongest month, Great Ocean Road Real Estate director Ian Stewart said.
“The Christmas and New Year period sees a bit of a lull. Then as people put down the champagne glass and get back to a more normal routine, the leisure market gets back into gear,” he said.
Events like Lorne’s Pier to Pub swimming race and Australia Day bolstered the property scene by drawing crowds to the area, Mr Stewart said, with 60 per cent of Lorne buyers coming from metropolitan Melbourne.
Fine weather would keep people coming throughout February and March, he added.
Tougher market conditions seen in Melbourne weren’t the case in the area, with high-end holiday properties one of the reasons the coast had a “different market”, Mr Stewart said: “We finished 2018 very strongly and the pointers are there for a good 2019.”
He said the greatest demand around Lorne had been for properties in the “lower to mid” price range, with $1-$1.6 million the most active part of the market. Few properties were available around Lorne for less than $1 million now.
While it was easy to be captured by the coastal charm of a property, buyers should determine their ideal location before setting a budget and speaking to a local agent, Mr Stewart said.
Some preferred quieter spots Wye River, Kennett River and Separation Creek, while others sought the entertainment and amenities of Lorne, Anglesea or Apollo Bay.
“Focus on where you want to be first, as opposed to the house you want,” he said.
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