Victorians abandon COVID-ravaged state for Gold Coast
COVID-weary southern residents are so desperate to escape their pandemic-ravaged states they are buying Gold Coast properties sight unseen.
Real estate bosses say they are being flooded with inquiries from Victorians and New South Welshmen keen to make the sea change earlier than planned.
Agents say calls from southern buyers have "quadrupled".
Ray White Surfers Paradise said it sold 16 properties sight unseen to out-of-towners in July.
"There are definitely two groups of interstate buyers surfacing," Ray White boss Andrew Bell said.
"The first are those who are testing the waters locally, renting here before making the decision as to whether they'll buy following that, so we are seeing a spike in six and 12-month permanent rental leases.
"The other group are those who have simply decided they are moving here and buying properties, often sight unseen, and will isolate for 14 days or relocate as soon as restrictions ease."
Bundall's Stewart & Smyth Estate Agents principal Karen Stewart said she had an example last week where a Victorian buyer bought a property unseen after a FaceTime meeting.
"I've had multiple inquiries from Sydney and Melbourne on another property.
"The inquiry has doubled, tripled, quadrupled, it's ridiculous. (Buying without seeing) was quite rare until now. It has happened, but not to the extent we're seeing it."
She said buyers were sharing a "myriad of reasons" for making the sudden jump to the Gold Coast.
"There's one buyer in particular who wants to be up here because her daughter's going to uni, and they just want to be with her.
"They're buying a property for her to live and then they're going to come and buy a property for themselves to live in, just to get the family together.
"We've got another one booked up here who are going to rent it out for 12 months and then move up here when things settle down a bit."
Main Beach's Keys Realty director Adam Keys said clients were sending family members and friends to inspect properties and video calling agents.
Real estate agent Michael Kollosche said he had done eight transactions in the last week with only a video walk-through of the property.
"It's typically quite affluent clientele, looking between $3 million and $8 million," he said.
"But there's even been a lot of people looking to relocate. A lot of people are wanting to buy holiday homes because they can't travel abroad anymore and they wouldn't even if they could.
"They're sitting in their homes in Melbourne in lockdown and probably really struggling with it.
"They're thinking, 'well if we're going to be locked down we'd prefer to be locked down on the Gold Coast'.
"I had a gentleman just the other day say he's been seeing how much fun they're having here on social media and it's the lifestyle they want to get back to."
Housing prices softened by 2 per cent in Sydney in July to $1.1 million, while on the Gold Coast the average house price rose to $672,500, up 2.7 per cent on the same time last year.
Data released in mid-August revealed more than $200 million worth of building work was lodged in June alone.
The number of applications came on the back of state and federal governments' COVID-19 economic stimulus measures and continued migration to the city.
Demographer Bernard Salt said the COVID-19 pandemic had only accelerated a trend of Victorians relocating to the Gold Coast.
"COVID has been a circuit breaker and people are deciding it is not just about moving to a less infected state but it is about making a life decision now, crystallising the thinking of a lot of people to leap into a lifestyle property," he said.
"Certainly the performance of Queensland and the sunny images we see on the news is the best advertisement.
"It has triggered a lot of people and I think we will see a post-COVID sunbelt shift."
Originally published as Victorians abandon COVID-ravaged state for Coast