Canberra property market in 2018: A rollercoaster of a year

With the year drawing to a close, many of us look inwardly to reflect on the year that was. And what a year 2018 has been; a rollercoaster ride! Some of my favourite purchases (and beautiful clients to work with) have been in 2018, and I’m so thankful to all who entrusted me with the task of helping them to buy in Canberra. I thought it might be nice to share with you some of my insights in the year that’s passed, and take a peek at some of my favourite purchases that come to mind.

Back at the beginning of the year, my little family was preparing to change schools. Not a decision lightly made as any other parent who’s been through the process can attest. Shortly after school began – one week, in fact – we decided that ferrying the kids back and forth each day was not how we wanted to live so we decided to move closer to the kids’ school. Now for someone who buys houses for a living, this really could have gone either way. Luckily, Mat and I are pretty decisive people and the process from ‘let’s look at what’s on the market’ to making a binding offer was a lightning-fast four days. Boom! It was great to be reminded first-hand of the wave of emotions that you experience when buying a new family home as within those four days, we went through them all! The decision to commit can feel excitingly terrifying, and I’m thankful for the reminder of how my clients often feel.

 

In early 2018, buyer demand was running hot in the Canberra property market. Auctions were competitive and in the February heat I sweated it out for my clients, often with 8-10 competing bidders at each one. Accurately pricing properties was sometimes challenging as interstate buyers were arriving in droves after the cooling of the Sydney and Melbourne markets. 

 

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One lovely couple sought my help for this prized home within walking distance of Canberra Grammar School and the lifestyle precinct of Manuka. The floorplan was fantastic with great indoor-outdoor flow, and the gardens gave the home a lush, private feel. After a tussle at the auction with quite a few changes in pace, it was lovely to secure it for them. They’ve put tenants in place to provide an income stream until it’s time for them to move to Canberra - very strategic buying.

 

Autumn continued strongly, and the rental market really tightened up around Easter time. Auctions in March and April seemed at their peak, and often I’d be having conversations with clients about making an offer prior to auction when we felt it suited both the vendor and the clients’ own needs. Belconnen came into the limelight as the shining star of price growth, from buyers that were priced out of the ever-popular Inner North, and clearance rates for quality homes in Belconnen soared. 

 

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This isn’t your average Canberra home. Although it has a blue-chip diplomatic address, it was time for a bit of an update. This photo was before the improvements so you can’t see the outdoor fireplace but it’s now a stunning, modern entertainer, complete with a secret cellar fully submerged under the garden, enormous pool, and a master suite to behold. After we missed out on another property, finding this little project gave them a superior location and funds left over to renovate (and travel) to their heart’s content. What you can’t see here is the feel of this home; it has such a great flow to the house and is one that I hope they join me in feeling is a perfect match of owners to home. And as a buyer’s agent, this is what I strive for. Such a gorgeous couple to work with.


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Stunning courtyard, isn’t it? I adore this beautiful family home in Belconnen, and was so happy to have placed one strategic bid to kill the momentum of the auction. While that didn’t buy the property, the post-auction negotiations were handled smoothly and later that sunny Saturday, they were the new owners. The home wraps around this part of the backyard, giving so much natural light and views out to this stunning part of the home. I love that the vendors left the church pew at the front entrance, which fitted the window space there just perfectly. It’s a fantastic home where the kids can walk safely to a very popular public school, yet be a stone’s throw from bush walks and spotting kangaroos. The epitome of Canberra life - kangaroos in the ‘burbs!


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By the time Winter reared its head, I found my own challenges. My ankle had swollen to the point of requiring surgery and it was funny to find myself on the operating table, about to head under anaesthesia, only to be asked if I didn’t mind discussing where the surgeon’s assistant could find a townhouse within budget. Too funny!

I must acknowledge all the auctioneers and sales agents who patiently waited for me to scooter into place before an auction – I’ve a newfound appreciation for access-friendly properties.

 

Winter also brought some personal challenges. We escaped the cold for the school holidays only to have some great sadness arrive in the Corby clan. For anyone who’s lost a family member, suddenly and tragically, you’ll know what a really difficult time it is to go through. Taking a break from work, I realised it was well overdue that I stopped working ridiculous hours and expand the team. 

Where the daily grind happens. And yes, I couldn’t quite reach the top of the windows for the sheets! Luckily it wasn’t too long before the new blinds arrived so we could work in comfort.

Where the daily grind happens. And yes, I couldn’t quite reach the top of the windows for the sheets! Luckily it wasn’t too long before the new blinds arrived so we could work in comfort.

At the beginning of Spring, Lucy joined me here and seemed more than happy to tolerate Harry licking her toes while we sat in the office and buckled down. It’s been a great pleasure to have her with me, and I’m very thankful for her multitude of skills and can-do attitude.

 


With the Royal Commission into the banking sector impacting the borrowing capacity of many buyers come Springtime, we found our clients to be in a strong position to negotiate without the lengthy (and changeable) finance approvals. I remember late September when the momentum in the market suddenly halted. With the usual stack of auctions placed carefully around public holiday and school holiday weekends, there were quite a few properties that didn’t change hands - and I’ve noticed some of these are still on the market today.

 

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I’d only just begun working for a wonderful couple overseas when this one went to auction in early Spring. As we hadn’t time to prepare, I arrived at the auction to watch it pass in and seized the opportunity. The clients were thrilled to have negotiations wrapped up in their favour! A tenant is now in place and they have a secure source of income until they’re ready to arrive and call this beautiful Inner-North property, home. Such a pretty backyard, and with the trees now in leaf it’s a lush, private setting for alfresco dining.

 
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This photo doesn’t do the space justice. In centrally-placed Woden, this home backs reserve and the timber double-glazed windows give this quiet location further insulation from the extremes of the Canberra climate. A young family have just moved in, and the guest wing is perfect for visiting rells to have their own space. The subfloor is calling out for more than a few cases of wine to be stored there with its cabinetry and fresh, white finishes. Very cool. After it was passed in at auction, some swift negotiations saw me secure the property for them in a matter of hours. Despite some unusual proceedings after an unwelcome party wanted to join in the fun, we got there in the end. I hope this beauty will give my lovely, hardworking clients a relaxing place to call home, to unwind and settle down.

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Townhouses in Belconnen can be on the small size. My clients were thrilled to find one that rivalled the floorplan of even a four-bedroom freestanding home, and with renovated bathrooms already done it was a perfect fit. Despite a hectic four weeks of open homes leading up to the auction and a well-attended auction, it was one carefully placed bid that secured this property for my gorgeous clients. So happy for them! This location gives them excellent access to both the City and gentrifying Belconnen, and leafy, private gardens that are low maintenance. Winners were grinners here.

By the time Summer rolled around again, buyer levels had plummeted. What used to be 5+ bidders vying for the hammer to fall in their favour was now a playing field where selling agents were lucky to have two registered bidders – and very often, none at all. The talk about town turned to the nosedive of auction clearance rates, which have stalled in the 40%’s for some weeks now. Anything less/more than 70% signals a shift in sentiment in either the buyer or seller’s favour. In slower times, the good properties still sell, but the ones with more compromises for buyers often gather dust waiting for a buyer. This is what I’m seeing in the Canberra property market at the close of this year.

 

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A beautiful example of the Canberra red brick homes that you’ll see across our inner suburbs. This one is located in the darling of the Inner North, Ainslie. A slow start to the auction found only one other bidder couple, who were reluctant to bid against me. And so we won the auction, after the vendors had some time to consider their options it was a done deal.

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It’s been great conditions for buying, and one of my favourite times of the year for getting a bargain is not on Boxing Day. It’s the fortnight before Christmas, when all through the town, not a buyer was stirring; except for the overly excited buyer’s agent who was madly wrapping up deals and delivering keys to clients. Ha ha! 

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This magnificent home in the Inner South is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Some quick negotiations found us securing the property for them, ready to move into right before Christmas. I was so happy it was a hot day on the 25th as this pool would have been the perfect spot to be! An amazing home that will bring much pleasure to a wonderful, hard-working family.

Continuing the theme of jaws dropping, this home needs to be seen to be believed. Although you might get stuck in the games room as I did, wondering where the secret door to the theatre room is! Ha ha - it’s a fun family home that will be much-loved as this beautiful young family grows with it. A well-attended auction found one other serious bidder after I placed a strategic opening bid, and some in-auction negotiations saw a number of us sweltering in the front yard, waiting for the final verdict. With a moving date scheduled for January, this family will be ready to start the school year in style for 2019.

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It’s been a great end to a turbulent year. I’ll be very thankful to see 2019 begin and can’t wait to see some fresh listings ready for my clients. When the lending environment finds an even keel and buyers return with confidence, I’ll be looking forward to some fun at auctions.

 

Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year, and may 2019 bring you much love, joy and happiness in your own home. See you on the other side!

 

Best,

Claire