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Pandemic 'refugees' from southern states driving coast property frenzy

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Property buyers are purchasing Queensland properties sight unseen in an increasing trend of people fleeing cities and southern states for lifestyle destinations like the Gold Coast.

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Demand for properties on the Gold Coast has jumped, with real estate agents reporting interstate and international buyers are making purchases based on online virtual tours or video walk throughs.

Demographer Bernard Salt said the COVID-19 pandemic had accelerated the work from home trend, which meant people could leave cities and the suburbs, hastening their much-longed-for “sea change” or “tree change.”

“Australians will pursue lifestyle at every option,” Salt said.

While the number of Australians who worked from home had been consistently around 5 per cent since 1996, that figure had jumped to 40 per cent and was likely to settle post-COVID around 15 per cent, he said.

“It’s almost like the coronavirus has been this big, bizarre social experiment that has proven to workplaces and workers that you can work from home and be productive. So the next step for workers is to think, ‘why am I living in the suburbs?’

“The whole idea of living in the suburbs and then commuting into the city centre is a very dated concept. In the 21st century, post-coronavirus, we might say live, work, play, recreate, go to university, go to hospital do everything you need to do all within one area and then go into the city once a week or something like that.”

Gold Coast real estate agents said the combination of expats returning home and interstate buyers craving a move to the sunbelt had put the local real estate market into overdrive.

On the southern end of the Gold Coast, Burleigh agent Kylie McGufficke told InQueensland that just months ago people were expressing interest in properties, but planning to wait to visit before purchasing.

“Now they’re not waiting anymore,” she said.

“I’ve currently got a new build, so we’re not even finished construction and have a buyer who wants it and will leave it vacant until they can leave lockdown and come and live in it.’

She said the interest from Sydney and Melbourne buyers was accelerating demographic change in Burleigh.

“For the past five years Burleigh has been changing and more young professionals are moving in. With the value of what you are getting here and the lifestyle choices people are making, that’s getting even faster,” she said.

Real estate agent Michael Kollosche told News Corp that he had done eight prestige property transactions in the past week based on only video walk-throughs.

“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,” he said.

“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’.”

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