Lakeland Realty Ltd principal Ross Harvey knows exactly how his buyers who can't move house during the level 4 lockdown feel. He's one of them.
Harvey and his partner had sold their home and bought a new one and were all set to move last Friday. But the coronavirus lockdown meant that couldn't happen. Now they're at their old home, surrounded by packing boxes and in limbo, unable to settle on their new property.
The Property Law Section of the New Zealand Law Society has recommended that sale and purchase or auction agreements for properties are amended to defer settlement "to the 10th working day after the Government reduces the Covid-19 level to 2 or below, or to such other date as may be mutually agreed".
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That means that final settlements - and buyers and sellers' lives - are on hold until that date, whenever it may be.
Harvey and several of his clients are in the same frustrating bind.
"We were due to move last Friday and at around 7pm my courier called to say 'we can't do it, we've been given direction that we've been locked down', so I'm now stuck with two properties," Harvey said. "There's a lot of people in the same boat. It's one of those things that you have no control over but it's causing a lot of stress."
Harvey said listings generally were quiet, but he was still getting inquiries from people interested in listing. He expected many properties would come on the market once the lockdown was lifted and said his advice to would-be vendors was to list then to get the most impact.
He said properties could still be listed and viewed online, but it was rare for people to buy a property they had not physically viewed.
Before the lockdown Harvey said the Taupō market was running at "an all-time high" he expected buyer interest would still be high afterwards although the effect of Covid-19 was "imponderable".
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Bayleys Real Estate sales manager Yvette Westerman said the two days between the Prime Minister's announcement of the lockdown and the lockdown itself were frantic as buyers, sellers, lawyers and moving companies rushed to complete settlements and get packed and shifted before the lockdown took effect.
Others could not get settled in time and were packed up and living among boxes, she said.
She said post-lockdown listings were still coming through and buyers were still looking. Activity at the Taupō and Tūrangi Bayleys offices was down to about 20 per cent of what it had been before.
"It's not terrible, it's not amazing, but it's okay."
However online activity had soared as people spent more time on the website. Virtual viewings using Zoom had also been possible.
"You can have conditional contracts. Banks are still open and council is open for LIM reports. You can't get geotech reports, builder's reports or valuation reports so we're having conditional contracts go through with those things but agreeing to do them after lockdown."
Westerman expected that the Taupō market would be affected by Covid-19 but said that might be offset by ex-pats moving back to New Zealand and looking for property. With the sharemarket and Kiwisaver values dropping and mortgage interest rates low, rental investments might also become more popular, she said.
Her views were backed up by Greg Currie, branch manager of Property Brokers Taupō who said his branch was getting plenty of inquiries, particularly in the commercial and rural space, and had had half a dozen listings in the last week. He believed that buyers might be nervous for a while but that the market would eventually bounce back.
"People are re-evaluating lots of things and some are like 'I'm sick of this farming caper and I wonder what we should do next' and the other thing I think will be very common is people living in Auckland and thinking of coming to Taupō.
However, he also thought that post-lockdown and despite mortgage relief, some people might have to sell their homes.
"We don't want people to sell for those reasons, but if they are, they'll need help in a hurry."
He said his branch and agents were also caught up in the rush to settle before the lockdown. Agents helped buyers and vendors pack and unpack so they could move before the deadline.