The Rising Popularity of Touchless Technology in the Home

Touchless tech is rising in popularity, even more so now as it fits perfectly with our pandemic lifestyle, where the norm is to interact with objects and people at a safe distance. Originally intended to provide efficiency in smart homes, touchless devices are now being used as hygienic measures to prevent cross-contamination.

Here are the current trends in touchless technology and the rapid changes in the way we interact with devices in the home:

Switches replaced by voice control and apps

With your smartphone, you get inside your home after turning off the alarm and unlocking the door. As you enter, a motion detector turns on the lights. In the bathroom, you wash your hands in the sink with sensor taps, which are no longer just in public restrooms. You make a request with your speaker to play some music as you go into your kitchen, where you tap on a screen to turn on the oven.

Apps on our smartphones have changed the way we interact with our home, as they replace buttons, switches and thermostats.

Our increasingly busy life has given us less time to spend on household tasks. Also, life has become easier for people thanks to innovations in the home appliance market.

Because of this, we are increasingly investing in autonomous appliances.

Appliances are becoming increasingly autonomous

We like to delegate work as much as we can. This is why robotic vacuum cleaners, for example, are rising in popularity. The only device that can totally take over a task are robots. The latest models get commands using a voice assistant. With this feature, the device can be used remotely and even at home. So, for example, you spilled a bottle of mineral water on the floor, just command the robot to clean up.

There are other features aside from remote activation. There is also the function that reduces the domestic workload. For example, there is a dishwasher in which the rinse aid and detergent are loaded into a big tank that automatically adjusts the amount for every wash.

Range hoods now don’t have buttons, even to turn it on and off. Even lights don’t need a switch to be turned on and off. While in some instances touchless technology is designed for practicality, others are aimed at simplifying design. The latest lamp models are built in with an infrared sensor to allow it to be turned on or dimmed with a simple hand movement.

Systems that are comforting and easy to use

Remote control systems are rising in popularity because of our desire for simplification and control. Having the ability to tell a voice assistant that you are going out so you can have the peace of mind knowing all the lights are off, the shutters are lowered, and some utilities are deactivated offers a benefit it terms of time efficiency and an assurance of safety.

Touchless technology also allows you to manage the temperature of your home in case your hands are busy preparing food, or maybe turning the lights on when you come home with bags full of shopping bags.

They also help in hygiene, which is important in settings such as holiday homes and short-term rental properties.

One thing about touchless technology is that it is intuitive. It just takes a little practice on how to come up with the correct command for a particular device.

What’s in store for touchless controls at home

Touchless technology will probably not capture the whole world. Different kinds of control are more likely to be inclusive instead of exclusive. This is the reason that many more touchless control systems will be invented, but they will always come with other options like conventional controls or apps.

The so-called Internet of Things, or the way devices communicate with each other, is poised for further growth with the addition of machine learning and AI features.

So, in the short term, not only will buttons to turn on appliances be eliminated, but the appliances themselves will know when and how to activate.

For example, when you leave your office at the end of the day, your smartphone uses geolocation to command your home heating system to start, so your home’s temperature will be just right when you enter. Comfort and the optimisation of energy use are in reality the genuine drivers of this technology.

Coming home after a hectic day is just a common instance that shows us how, without lifting a finger and even (almost) without thought, our relationship with home devices entails decreasing moments of interactions.

Can I still buy property during Covid-19 Lockdowns?

Yes you can, as there are no restrictions in place that will prevent you from either buying or selling a home during the current Covid-19 lockdowns, though the home buying process in Newcastle and how you can inspect the property has changed.

During lockdowns all open homes are closed and real estate agents are currently offering private inspections, FaceTime appointments and providing videos or virtual tours.

It’s important to remember when inspecting the property in person, that the agent must follow the strict Health Order Guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus and that only ONE buyer may attend a private inspection.  The buyer must wear a mask, use a hand sanitiser, maintain distance between the agent and must not touch anything in the home.

Buyers also must not attend if they are considered a close or casual contact, are awaiting a covid test result and should be self isolating.

If you are feeling unwell in anyway, please delay your inspection or have someone you trust to view the property on your behalf.

For those investment buyers from the Greater Sydney region who are prohibited to inspect in person in regional area or any buyer not wanting to inspect in person, you can do a remote inspection of the property by watching videos or by using other digital platforms like FaceTime or WhatsApp.

It’s also really important to plan in advance and be prepared to purchase by getting your permit to travel out of the Greater Sydney region and your pre-approval for finance before making appointments and offers.

NOTE:  For the latest updates about Covid-19 Rules click here!

 

 

Why Real Estate Won’t Return To Normal Once Lockdowns Lift

Many real estate agents and principals are working in lockdown right now, and even though we are still able to list and sell property (under constrained circumstances), we are finding that the majority of sellers are saying they prefer to wait for restrictions to end and consider listing their properties when real estate returns to normal.

The problem is, when restrictions end, real estate won’t return to normal. In fact, if we take into account what happened last year when Melbourne agents were in an extended lockdown period, it was just the opposite.

The main lesson I learnt from One Agency’s in Victoria last year was that as soon as restrictions lifted and sellers rushed to the market, it lead to high demand for associated service providers like stagers, photographers, pest & building inspectors and conveyancers, causing major waitlists and a huge slowing in the process.

So, the immediate post-lockdown environment will actually be far from normal.  That’s why it’s so important to take steps right now to set yourself up for a successful post-lockdown sale.

 

How to set yourself up for a post-lockdown sale of your property

Styling and staging experienced big bottlenecks in Victoria last year. There are only so many styling professionals and their staging furniture to go around, which means there’s likely to be a big queue for this service when lockdown lifts.

One way to get around this problem is to consider selling right now. This can be a great option, because while there are less properties on the market, buyer numbers are still very strong, which means you are facing less competition than usual and certainly far less than when everyone decides to come to the market post-lockdown.

If you still prefer to wait until lockdown ends, you should try to book styling and staging appointments right now. If appropriate, consider offering to pay a deposit. That way, you can get to the front of what’s likely to be a long queue.

The same logic applies with contracts for sale and pest and building inspections. Demand for conveyancers and inspectors will skyrocket once lockdown ends, but supply of these services remain unchanged. Now might be a good time to go to market, because if you wait until lockdown is over, it might become harder for you to sell your property.  It may take longer and everyone knows that the longer a property is on the market, there’s a higher chance you’ll have to drop your original asking price.

Of course, if you want to wait, that’s your choice. In that case, speak to your favourite conveyancer right now and ask them to draft a contract of sale in readiness so you can get to the front of the long post-lockdown queue.  Remember to book your stylist and contact your agent so they can book your photographer.

These are conversations you need to be having right now because your competition is already doing it!

 

 

No Super Spring Saturdays!

Spring is here but the Australian property market and it’s super selling Spring Saturdays are not!  And it’s all because of the Health Orders relating to Covid-19 set down by the Chief Health Minister.

The Australian property market is no longer a seasonal market.

Typically, spring is a season where we see an influx of property already on the market but that not the case this year! It’s now evident that we will not see the Super Saturdays that we would normally see happen towards late September.

But when the health orders are lifted, the restrictions on inspections are extinguished and sellers bring their properties to the market, the prediction is that there’ll be too much stock.  There’s going to be a gluttony of listings, you’re going to see signboards everywhere and that’s when it’s going to be a buyers’ paradise.

The forecast is that this will happen during the months of Summer (November-December-January).  This is based on the number of administered vaccines and the promise of easing of restrictions by the Chief Health Minister and the Premier.

Supported by the idea that Australia is making progress and with the prediction of a buyers’ paradise, I believe that when the restrictions are lifted, sellers will begin listing their properties and you’re going to have a lot of listings on the market.

Knowing that there was limited stock and supply in recent months, it’s evident that there’s a lot of sellers that haven’t come on to the market since the middle of the year.  So in actual fact, there’s likely going to be three seasons worth of listing on the market at the one time!  Winter, spring and summer listings!

This will be a great time for buyers but I’m concerned for seller because the absorption rate of property will likely head downwards meaning that buyers get to purchase at a cheaper price and sellers forgo premium sale prices.

For clarification, the absorption rate is defined as how many days would it take for all the stock on the market to get sucked in by the buyers!

So when there’s a lot of stock, the absorption rate actually becomes lower, because what actually happens is there’s just more stock to get absorbed.

Given that buyers numbers haven’t decreased much because of a lack of stock, I’m also not sure there’s going to be an increase of buyers to match the increase of supply.  I believe, buyers will have more to choose from, properties will be on the market longer (the absorption rate being lower) and we all know that the longer a property is on the market – the more likely the price will fall.

I’m personally holding off buying until the summer months for this very reason but the question I have for sellers is, will you sell now or later when restrictions are lifted and you’ll have a lot more competition?

Call me today for a confidential chat about your property.

 

How to Choose the Right Listing Agent to Sell Your Home

Home sellers commit the biggest mistake in choosing their listing agent when they base their decision on just two criteria: the highest list price for the home and the lowest commission.

On the surface, those two are good criteria because any home seller would want to aim for those things. However, they have very little to do with hiring a listing agent and is irrelevant in many ways. Here’s why:

 

The Highest Recommended Selling Price

The truth is agents can’t tell you the amount your home will sell for. They can provide you with data on comparable sales, pending sales and active sales. However you decide on  the sales price and whether it’s the right price is up to the buyer. An agent can give a suggested listing price, among other things,  that will attract buyers. How it moves forward is up to the buyer and how well your agent negotiates with them.

Choosing a listing price may sound frightening but it is possible for you to choose the right listing price. You have to do your research and work with a reliable listing agent.

Here are some things you may consider when looking for a listing agent:

  • Agents don’t have crystal balls but can provide you with a realistic price where your home may sell.  Beware of the agent who suggests the highest listing price …. Ask the agent to provide you with data supporting the recommended listing price – they must provide you with evidence. If they can’t or if the home sales are in a different suburb you probably should be aware.
  • You can trust a listing agent that provides you with a range of prices. This range cannot be greater than 10%. This number is determined by several factors, including location, the features of the property, the temperature of the market, the condition of the property and upgrades in the property.
  • There is an art to pricing. A home that is priced right will get multiple offers if the buyers are active in the market. If the price is a little high then the offers that come in may be lower than your expectations. If the price is too high, then you run the risk of no one showing up to inspect and you’ll then be forced to lower the price, leaving buyers thinking what flaws your house may be hiding.

Choosing a Listing Agent Based on Commission

Despite what you may think, each real estate agent is unique. Each has their own marketing and advertising methods. By hiring a listing agent and selecting an advertising budget your home will be seen by a large number of buyers. This is good, because the greater the number of potential buyers reached, the higher the chances of your house getting a better offer.

There is always a reason why a listing agent would work for a cheap fee. It might be they’re desperate for business, they may be inexperienced, lacking confidence or they may be pressured from their employer so they can hit their KPI’s keep their job. Find out why they are willing to be cheap before committing to hire an agent.

 

Why is Marketing Important?

The property marketing of a home is the most important thing to consider when selling your home.  If you don’t get the buyers there then in the first place, then it won’t matter how good or experienced your agent is when it’s time to negotiate.  Make a request to take a look at the agent’s marketing strategy. Make a point to ask what the agent’s strategy is for selling your home.

Here are a few marketing techniques you should expect:

  • Professional signage – including the agent’s contact number
  • Digital targeted marketing
  • Ads in local magazine
  • Multiple listing service
  • High definition video presentation (not slides to music)
  • Distribution to major websites
  • Full-colour brochures
  • Floor plans with dimensions
  • As many open homes as needed (not limited to two)
  • Directional signs for open homes
  • Direct mail to nearby suburbs & out-of-area buyers
  • Feedback phone call to sellers on every buyer inspection
  • Follow-up reports on buyers inspections detailing feedback in writing
  • Email feeds of new listings that compete
  • Updates on neighbourhood facts, trends and recent sales
  • Note that no single marketing technique works; it’s a combination of these techniques that sells properties.

Good Listing Agent Characteristics

It’s important to have a good working relationship with your listing agent. Here are some of the qualities you should look for in an agent:

  • Relevant education – Are they a Licensed Agent or an Assistant Real Estate Agent (who hold a certificate of registration only)?
  • Experience in marketing homes – Having a diploma in marketing is a huge advantage
  • Excellent negotiating skills
  • Results – What is the average days on market?
  • Results – What is the average percentage over the asking price obtained?
  • Transparency
  • Wide network; contacts with other agents
  • Excellent communication skills

Lastly, request for a personal guarantee. Look elsewhere if the agent refuses to provide a guarantee of performance letter.

 

The Outlook for Australia’s Property Market for 2021 and Beyond

One of the frequently asked questions we receive about the market is: “What is to be expected of the property market for the rest of 2021 and in the next year or two?”

In February, Westpac was one of the banks who boldly predicted a 20% increase in house prices over 2021 and 2022. Since then, all other big banks have come to agree with economists’ prediction of up to 30% increase in values over this cycle.

Now, Westpac says a higher than expected increase over the first half of 2021 is now forecast to bring values up another 18% in the last quarter 2021.

According to Westpac, regulators will take action to slow down the market. Signs of an 18% increase in Sydney, and a 7% gain in housing credit, will allow for a sensible policy tightening in the first half of 2022.

 

Likewise, ANZ Bank expects housing prices, nationally, to increase by a solid 17% through 2021, before declining to 6% in 2022.

In Sydney, house prices are expected to increase by up to 19% by the end of 2021.

This a turnaround from all the negative predictions all the banks made in mid-2020.

Strong Growth for 2023

A significant property price increase is expected through to the end of 2023, as well as similar gains in real residential investment.

Applying the Reserve Bank of Australia’s model of the housing market, analysts expect house values to increase by 8% over the remainder of 2021, then a further 9% in 2022, before a final gain of 8% in 2023.

This translated to a cumulative increase through to the end of 2023 of up to 25%.

Capital city house prices were up 2.2% over the month of May, and up 10.6% over the current year. But, evidently, there are several housing markets in the country.

Australia’s House Prices Over the Last Year

The moderate covid-19-induced housing correction ended in mid-Oct 2020, and the housing market had become active again since then.

Is A Second Australian Recession Happening?

Australia has undergone the “V-shaped” economic turnaround that no one has predicted, with current GDP higher than it was at the start of the pandemic.

But to have NSW, Australia’s biggest state, on lockdown is a major strike against our economy. There are now speculations as to whether the prolonged lockdowns around the country could lead us to a double-dip recession.

Every week that Sydney is in lockdown, $2 billion is lost in gross domestic product (GDP). And if the lockdown extends to 12 weeks, that is a loss of $24 billion worth of GDP.

It looks like there is a big possibility that the economy will contract in the September quarter, but luckily, most analysts believe there will be a major recovery in December, as more Australians are vaccinated.

The Housing Market Has Picked Up Considerably

 

What do we have to expect for our property market and the economy?

Here are the 7 property trends that we should expect to see in the remainder of 2021:

  1. Housing demand from home buyers will continue to be strong.
  2. Demand from first home buyers will weaken due to increasing competition as investors return to the market and property values increase.
  3. Dwelling values will continue to rise, driven by consumer confidence, low-interest rates, economic growth and a positive supply and demand ratio.
  4. People will pay a high price to buy in the right neighbourhood.
  5. The high end of the market, which includes dwellings valued at roughly $960,000 or higher, will lead the growth in property prices.
  6. 2021 will see homeowners upgrading their lifestyle and their accommodations to bigger homes.
  7. We will not fall off the fiscal cliff even with the end of JobKeeper and the mortgage deferral system.

House Prices Forecast

In the medium term, dwelling prices will depend on how much our economic recovery will impact factors such as income, employment, borrowing capacity and credit availability.

However, underlying long-term fundamentals will buoy our property markets in the medium and long term. These fundamentals – population growth, declining housing supply, low interest rates, trend towards smaller households, rising number of renters, and return of first home buyers – are robust.

In addition, the country’s banking system is stable and strong.

Sydney House Price Forecast

 

Sydney house values are expected to enjoy a double-digit increase over the next 12 months, thanks to very strong demand for houses in the city’s inner and middle-ring suburbs. Indeed, housing values increased 8.2% in the second quarter of 2021.

Family-friendly apartments in the inner suburbs are expected to perform solidly, owing to strong demand from owner-occupiers and investors, while apartments in high-rise buildings are expected to weaken.

Apartments suitable for families are considered as a reasonably-priced alternative to houses and units in trendy locations like Sydney’s eastern suburbs and Northern Beaches. Meanwhile, apartments in high supply locations pose a major risk to investors.

This already happened before the pandemic when certain areas in the city face significant unit oversupply.

Sydney’s bigger regional areas, particularly lifestyle areas like Byron Bay, Central Coast, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Hunter Valley, Wollongong, NSW south coast, are expected to perform solidly for the remainder of this year with beachside and lakeside suburbs likely to perform well compared to the entire market, in general.

Rising interest from buyers and sellers in Sydney’s property market resulted in auction clearance rates continuously reaching the 70-80% range, indicating that there are more buyers than sellers and this always results in higher dwelling values.

More investors are entering the Sydney market, seeing that there are no more bargains and that in 12 months the houses they bought now will be considered a bargain.

To find out how your suburb is performing, call Annette Pinkerton today for a confidential discussion.

Investors From Sydney Ordered to Stay Out of Newcastle

The introduction of the new regional permit system means that for the duration of the Greater Sydney lockdown, investors are not permitted to inspect property in Newcastle and regional NSW as of tomorrow 21 August.

Property investors have been ordered to stay out of our regions and wait –  they will not be able to exit the Greater Sydney region and enter regional NSW to inspect a property.

Residential Sydneysiders who genuinely need to find a new home to live in are allowed to travel to our region to inspect property and will be required to carry a new permit allowing them to leave the Greater Sydney lockdown region.  Those who breach the new rules risk a $3,000 on-the-spot fine.

The increased fines and police presence are to ensure people who exploit the rules are caught and punished.

There is however an exception for Central Coast buyers who are now excluded from the Greater Sydney region.   Another exception is for property investors from the Great Sydney region who need to travel to a second home located in regional NSW, but only to use it as work accommodation or if the home requires urgent maintenance and repairs.  They are allowed to apply for a permit but even then, only one person is allowed to make the trip.

 

 

7 Ideas to Add a Touch of Luxury to Every Room in Your Home

There are so many things that remind us of the finer things in life, and those things include experiencing luxury at a five-star hotel and falling asleep between lavish sheets at a top-tier holiday rental.

But we don’t need to wait to have that lavish feeling for a special occasion. You can add luxurious touches that are easy and can change your life in a big way.

Here are simple ways to add a hint of five-star decadence to your home:

  1. A plush bed

One of the few things that can guarantee a good night’s sleep is a stylish and lush bed. Arrange it as a main point of your bedroom, starting with a supportive mattress and then layered it with touches of comfort such as plump down pillows, a woollen underlay between Egyptian cotton sheets and your mattress and
a weather-fitting doona.

  1. Elegant lighting

All high-star hotels or luxury homes have one thing in common: well-lit rooms with lavish chandeliers, wall sconces, art lights, floor lamps and mood lighting.

You can do a simple lighting makeover by replacing your overhead lights with modern fixtures, and consider installing a dimmer for mood lighting.

  1. Fresh flowers

A lot of people think that flowers are only for special occasions, but there is no reason not to have beautiful and sweet-smelling flowers in your home all the time. Flowers give your home colour, life, perfume and texture, and can transform a worn-out looking space into a much-loved home.

Bloom shouldn’t necessarily be expensive; garden-picked flowers serve the same purpose and more!

  1. Art pieces

People feel like they’ve had it made if they can buy art. If you want to hang art in your home, choose an artist that you love or a piece that you’ve purchased during one of your travels.

Art triggers memories and feelings, so it is a very personal investment. Begin with small art pieces and only choose what you love.

  1. Tasteful mirrors

Mirrors add elegance in a space, with their ability to reflect natural light and transform a room just by changing its depth of field. Interior designer experts say, “the bigger the mirror, the better!”

  1. Experiment with soothing scents and soft tunes

Luxury should be a complete sensory experience. When you walk into your home, your mind and senses should feel invigorated. You can create your own sanctuary by adding touches of sensory sparks in every space in your home with things such as relaxing music, a diffuser with the scent you love, as well as tactile furnishings and crisp towels.

  1. Coordinating cutlery

Store your old cutlery or give them away. A cutlery drawer full of old, mismatched cutlery broadcasts “student pad.” It’s time to separate yourself from your old cutlery and invest in new silverware that will elevate your daily home dining experience, not just to be used during your annual dinner parties.

Important Things To Consider When You Sell a Vacant House

Selling a vacant house can be a challenge. Because it is empty, it feels empty. This makes it hard for potential buyers to envision themselves living there. Furniture provides a sense of perspective, while fittings like curtains, picture frames or art can divert people’s attention from marks on the walls. Buyers may not like your taste in couches, but they at least can get a sense of how it fits in the room.

Here are a few important things to consider if you end up selling your house while it is empty.

  1. Keep in touch with your real estate agent. This is important, especially if you’re selling long distance, as you will depend on them more than if you still lived in the house. Keep yourself informed on the number of people viewing your house and find out what feedback your agent is receiving.
  2. If you can, leave some pieces of furniture in your house. A furnished house is more appealing and looks larger than an empty one. Plus, people purchase homes, not houses. They want to be able to see themselves living there. If this is not possible, consider using rented furniture for this purpose, or hire a stylist to do this for you.  
  3. Don’t ignore your home’s street appeal. This could mean you will have to pay someone to make your front yard look good by mowing the lawn, raking the leaves or trimming the bushes or trees.
  4. Prior to moving out, tidy up the landscaping. You can do this in various ways such as planting new shrubs, freshening up the ground cover, or making it appear more cheerful with colourful annuals. Just make sure there is someone who waters the plant regularly to keep them alive and thriving.
  5. Once you empty your house, look it over to see if any part needs a fresh coat of paint. There could be scratches from moving furniture that prospective buyers can easily notice.
  6. You might also consider freshening up your house with a neutral shade. The walls stand out in an empty house. Bold tones, particularly in an empty house, can turn buyers off, so consider using a neutral shade.
  7. Hire professionals to clean the carpets. Without anything in the house, all prospective buyers have to look at are the floors and walls.
  8. Make sure your vacant house does not attract burglars. Install exterior sensor lights that automatically turn on when night falls and off during the day.
  9. Before you move, cancel all regular deliveries and redirect mail to your new address. An overflowing mailbox is a tell-tale sign to would-be burglars that no one is there.
  10. Use your security alarm, if you have it, and leave the entrance code with your real estate agent.
  11. Go over your home insurance. Find out if your insurance has a limit on how long it will cover your home while it stays vacant.

I strongly recommend staging your property when selling.  Generally speaking, for every dollar spend you are likely to get ten times the return on investment.  For example, spend $2,500 and you could be getting an extra $25,000.  Sometimes it is way more!