How is COVID-19 changing market sentiments?

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The weaker economic outlook due to the coronavirus outbreak has changed the sentiment of buyers towards the housing market, according to the latest poll by CoreLogic.

The poll asked real estate professionals nationwide about their perceptions on buyer and seller sentiments amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The immediate, stand-out response is that buyer enquiry has fallen sharply. Respondents were asked whether they had seen a change in buyer enquiry over the past week," said Eliza Owen, head of residential research at CoreLogic. 

Around one in three respondents said they had seen a decline in buyer enquiry of more than 50%. This could indicate that consumer sentiments have been affected by the outlook for the economy, particularly about the unemployment, Owen said.

In terms of seller activity, roughly the same proportion of respondents said seller inquiry went down by more than 50%.

"It is clear that the COVID-19 responses are deterring both property buyers and sellers. However, the government restrictions that impact the housing market are vital for limiting the spread of COVID-19, and reducing the burden on the Australian health system," Owen said.

Also Read: Alternatives to open homes, public auctions

Some market watchers expressed optimism despite the ban on housing auctions. Leah Calnan, president of the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, said interest in the Victorian property market remains strong and that local agents are starting to embrace technology and explore workarounds amid the restrictions.

"The Victorian real estate sector is a flexible, innovative, and resourceful industry capable of dealing with any problem," Calnan said. "Many agencies have already invested in online platforms for property auctions and have been trialing them in recent months, and houses will continue to be sold in Victoria."

Michael Yardney, director of Metropole Property Strategist, said it is crucial to take a long-term perspective in times like this and analyse property fundamentals.  

"After each global disruption, there has been an increase in property prices, and there is no reason to suggest this will be any different as the fundamentals are still strong," he said. 

Yardney said the potential impact of the coronavirus on the housing market presents an opportunity for Australians to buy or invest.

"There is no doubt there will be opportunities in the market for those who are willing to go against the crowd and when they look back in a year's time and definitely in five or 10 years' time, they will remember the unprecedented events of 2020 as a great buying opportunity for property," he said. 

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