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Non-major expects buying ‘frenzy’ in early 2021

Record-low interest rates and a rush demand may result in a buying “frenzy” this year, according to ME Bank’s head of home loans.

Andrew Bartolo, the head of home loans at ME Bank, has shared his top property trends for 2021.

According to Mr Bartolo, “competition in the home loan market will continue to benefit consumers looking for a good deal”.

He suggested that “record-low interest rates [will] drive momentum across the market”, including the subdued investor market, as many lenders have already “sharpened home loan rates to attract and retain customers”.

Mr Bartolo highlighted that “historically low interest rates, stamp duty exemptions, government grants and the absence of foreign investors will continue to propel first home buyers into action” and would particularly contribute to “strong first home buyer activity continu[ing]”. 

He added that first home buyers are likely to choose ‘urban village’ living as COVID has developed a trend of young professionals enjoying “a slower pace of living”. 

“With the daily commute no longer a deciding factor in the home buying process, regional areas within a commutable distance to CBDs are being added to home buyers’ wish lists,” he noted.

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Indeed, regional areas are starting to attract first home buyers, as the economic pressures and ability to remote work caused by COVID-19 are forcing them to save money while improving their lifestyle, according to ME Bank.

“The demand in regional areas has started to translate into higher prices, with the November CoreLogic Home Value Index showing 6.8 per cent growth in regional versus capital city growth of 2.9 per cent year-to-date,” Mr Bartolo added.

ME Bank’s head of home loans noted the resilience of the housing market during “turbulent” 2020, adding: “The economic pressures of COVID-19, together with lower interest rates, will give home buyers and investors confidence.” 

“While there are still many challenges, including unemployment, job insecurity and lower immigration, we’re seeing some positive signs: improved consumer confidence, stronger auction clearance rates, more transactions and falling loan deferrals – generally considered proof of a healthier market,” Mr Bartolo said.

In conclusion, ME’s head of home loans echoed market predictions that “property prices [are] to rise across multiple markets in 2021”, alongside buyer activity, which is expected to be up year-on-year, due to “pent up demand” caused by the sporadic lockdowns in 2020, he added.

“More and more listings will return to the market, which will be quickly snapped by eager buyers.

“Early 2021 is expected to be a bumper property season that will rival the traditional spring frenzy as buyers respond to a late surge in auction listings,” he said.

[Related: House prices to surpass pre-COVID levels in ‘early 2021’]

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