More Australians would buy a property without seeing it than would rent one, according to a new survey

More Australians would buy a property without seeing it than would rent one, according to a new survey
Australians are buying property sight unseen. (Brendon Thorne, Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • One in nine Australians would buy a property without inspecting it themselves, according to a new survey.
  • For comparison, only 8% of Australians would move into a rental sight unseen.
  • The finding, produced by Canstar, indicates one reason why lockdowns haven’t been sufficient to freeze auction markets.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Not even a months-long lockdown can deter Australians from snapping up property.

As prices continue their unrepentant march north, some buyers are so anxious to get into an increasingly hostile market they aren’t even particularly concerned with ensuring the quality of their purchase.

Nearly one in nine Australians say they would happily buy a property sight unseen at the moment, with New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT all currently locked down. The result covers homebuyers and investors alike.

The survey, produced by Canstar, found that Australians were less likely to buy a vehicle, a pet or even rent a property without seeing it first.

While buyers may be able to organise building and pest inspections without visiting it, the enormous outlay doesn’t appear to be deterring buyers who haven’t actually been inside the property themselves.

Given median house prices range from between around $1 million in Canberra to $1.3 million in Sydney, it’s an indication of how much confidence buyers have in real estate – and how divorced from the real economy it has become.

Lockdowns appear to have done little to shake that with the repeated finding that restrictions seem to simply produce pent-up demand.

Yet they may be creating some buying opportunities, or at least pushing buyers towards the lower end of the market.

The latest CoreLogic data shows sales by private treaty over the last four weeks have come in below market value. The median price paid in Sydney has been $960,000 for a house, more than $300,000 below city wide median prices.

Likewise, Melbourne houses have sold for $730,000 – or $200,000 less – while in Canberra sales are coming in around $100,000 less.

The apartment market points to a similar trend with the four week median apartment price falling to $690,000 in Sydney, $562,500 in Melbourne and $475,000 in Canberra. It equates to a 17% discount in the Harbour City and roughly 10% in Melbourne and the ACT.

Those figures unsurprisingly comes from a smaller sample size as buyers in each city can’t leave their own LGA, although transactions continue.

Sydney’s final clearance rate was flirting with 70% last weekend, well up from around 50% the year prior. Of those, around 90% of sales are currently being finalised prior to auction, according to SQM Research.

In Melbourne on the other hand buyers appear to be more cautious. The final clearance rate in the Victorian capital has fallen closer to 20%, but with more than 700 homes going to auction and far fewer selling prior.

Yet even that hasn’t seemed to derail price growth. Melbourne prices rose 1.2% through August, despite spending much of it under stay-at-home orders.

Nationally prices rose 1.5% over the period, and while momentum is slowing, annual price growth is running at a three-decade high.