03.16.2021 Buying Tips

Overseas Buyers Are Active But Who Exactly Are They?

Overseas Buyers Are Active But Who Exactly Are They?

Overseas buyers are a dominant force in the eastern suburbs property market right now.

But they’re not necessarily the people you imagine.

Sydney property has long attracted overseas buyers. Property investors, people looking to relocate to Australia and ex-pats have all found the local property market appealing thanks to its potential for capital growth, income and lifestyle.

But even though foreign buyers are a serious factor in today’s property market, the nature of the overseas buyer segment has changed in the past 12 months. We look at who’s buying from overseas and what types of properties they’re looking for.

Who are the overseas buyers today?

Over the past decade, there’s been a lot of debate in the media about foreign buyers. But, as we’ve written before, contrary to many people’s prejudices the vast majority of overseas buyers that we see aren’t foreigners driving up prices for locals. They’re simply expat Australians who are living overseas and looking to return home, or invest in property here.

Thanks to border and travel restrictions as a result of COVID-19, these expat buyers are making up a larger proportion than ever before of the purchasers actively seeking to buy property in Sydney’s East.

Where are the expat buyers based?

Most of the expat buyers we see are living and working in Asia, the UK, Europe or US, across a range of industries, from entrepreneurs and business owners to finance and entertainment.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated their plans to move home or buy a bolt hole in Sydney. Sydney looks very appealing right now, with a very low – even negligible – coronavirus caseload and relatively normal economic conditions.

But not all expat buyers are looking to return home immediately. Some are considering buying a second property or holiday home in Australia, or to simply invest in Sydney real estate.

That said, generally we’ve noticed three main groups of expat buyers right now:

1. Expats who have already returned home. We’re seeing plenty of expats at open homes who have moved back to Sydney in the past 12 months. Many are fresh off the plane, staying in Airbnbs, renting or living with family, and they’re keen to get a foot on the eastern suburbs property ladder. These expat buyers range from young professionals to families, and even retirees. They’re motivated to make a purchase before the market rises any further and to settle back quickly into life in Sydney. It’s often taken them a long time to get home thanks to border restrictions and they’re craving certainty.

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2. Expats who plan to move home. We’re doing plenty of FaceTime video walkthroughs for buyers who are still living overseas, but who plan to return in the next one-to-five years. Often families with children, these buyers want property near schools and services that offer a similar lifestyle to the one they’ve had overseas. Paddington and Woollahra are popular, as are the harbourside and beachside suburbs. In the short term, they’ll rent the property out while they plan their move home. They’re looking to take some of the stress away from their potential move back to Sydney and to make it as seamless as possible. They’re also willing to buy without setting foot in the property themselves.

3. Expats looking to invest. We’re also selling properties at all price points to expats who are happy living overseas but are seeking a second home to stay in when they’re in Sydney, or an investment property back in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. They’re keen to invest before the market rises further and to take advantage of any capital growth opportunities.

What type of properties interest overseas buyers?

Overseas buyers are a broad demographic and so they’re seeking a whole range of property types. This ranges from prestige waterfront houses or units at Vaucluse and Rose Bay, to family homes in Woollahra, terraces in Paddington, right through to studio apartments in Surry Hills or Elizabeth Bay.

Some of the properties that have really attracted the interest of expat buyers include:

1/746 New South Head Road, Rose Bay – a huge garden apartment with house-like proportions overlooking the harbour.

16/16 Notts Avenue, Bondi Beach – With its stunning interior and killer views, this could be Bondi’s best apartment.

19 Sutherland Avenue, Paddington – This charming cottage in Paddington sold to an overseas buyer in February, exceeding all price expectations.

How do we help overseas buyers with their property search?

  • We do several things to help overseas buyers make a better decision from a distance. And technology is key.
  • We make sure we have good quality photos, copy and videos on our website to bring the photos to life and give a good indication of the property’s flow and connection.
  • We provide video walkthroughs via FaceTime. We know the properties we are selling intimately, and can show buyers every nook and cranny, open cupboards, show off the view out the windows, and demonstrate how the property is arranged.
  • Often, an overseas buyer will send friends or family to check out a property and we’re happy to arrange additional viewings for them.
  • We may elongate the sales process on certain properties in order to give overseas buyers time to organise themselves, for example, a six-week auction campaign rather than four weeks.
  • We often make arrangements for phone/online bidding at auctions, and paperwork to be dealt with remotely.

Want more?

If you’re looking to buy or sell in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today.