Falling in love with property
A SENSE of optimism is returning to the real estate sector, with buyers acting more decisively and sellers facing up to "meeting the market".
October proved the most positive sales month in a long time for many agencies and the Melbourne Cup day interest rate cut is widely seen as a sign of green shoots appearing across the market.
The day after the announcement, a house in Goonellabah that had been for sale for just three days was snapped up by the first person inspecting it - a rare turnaround time for the year so far. And such buyer confidence is being matched by vendor realism. Dropping the price of a house - even by as little as 3% - can bring a rapid sale, one young couple discovered recently.
Adrian Bordin and his partner Daniella Zanette had their Goonellabah property on the market for three months with a price tag of $350,000 - a little more than the appraisal of their agent, Katrina Beohm.
The accountant and intensive care nurse, both 23, had seen another property they wished to buy - a 17-hectare macadamia farm in Tullera, where Ms Zanette grew up.
In order to secure a residence they had fallen in love with, the couple "bit the bullet" and reduced their asking price to $339,000.
It sold within a week.
"We weren't forced by circumstances to drop the price but we wanted to move on," Mr Bordin said.
"We didn't end up losing money. We had a basic level we needed to achieve and the selling price fell within that.
"We'd been looking for a new home for 12 months and we didn't want to risk losing it."
But it is an indicator of the health of the Northern Rivers market that Ms Beohm says she is not advising people to drop their prices any more often than in the past.
"Every situation is different: if someone wants to sell quickly they need to look at their price. If they're happy to sit, they may get what they are asking for eventually."
One vendor in Modanville did just that recently, achieving his asking price. But the property had been on the market for four years.
In Byron Bay, First National's Helen Huntly-Barratt is looking for listings after a particularly good October shrank her stock.
The interest rate cut had been greeted with a sense of relief, she said, and was a sign things could be about to get better.
"People are no longer holding their breath," Ms Huntly-Barratt said.
The move also knocked on the head the argument being used by many buyers that "it's going to get worse", and that they would wait, she said.
Recent sales figures had also been very good for McGrath Ballina/Byron, said principal John Nicolson.
"October was very good, with our best sales for six months. Our agents are noting more activity and a higher level of inquiry."
Most people were looking for stability in interest rates, he said and Tuesday's decision was the first positive move by the Reserve Bank since its shock increase in November last year stopped the market dead.
Brian Warrick, who heads the Ballina branch of Wal Murray First National, also reported a better month for sales in October.
The rate cut "should introduce an element of optimism into the market", Mr Warrick said.