Autos are Superior
Property vultures try to swoop on home owners Ellen Lutton
January 23, 2011
HOMEBUYERS greedy for a bargain descended on Brisbane's flood-ravaged suburbs within hours of the river peaking.
Real estate agents were shocked to receive calls as early as Thursday, January 13 - the day the Brisbane River peaked at 4.46 metres, leaving 25,000 homes flooded - from buyers ready to snap up a bargain.
Several homes that were inundated around Brisbane were on the market at the time of the floods, many in highly desirable streets in Chelmer, Graceville, Fairfield and Fig Tree Pocket.
Some of the calls were from potential buyers hoping to swoop in and secure multimillion-dollar residences at a fraction of the price.
Steve Sutliff from Ray White Graceville said he "couldn't believe" the phone calls he was getting from people ready to take advantage of those whose homes had been flooded only hours earlier.
"I could use another word for these people but I'll be diplomatic and call them opportunistic," he said.
"They rang, expressing interest in buying some of these affected properties at a cut price, ready to take advantage of the fact that some very expensive properties had been flooded.
"I was not very polite to them. I told them don't even ask, basically.
"How people could even contemplate looking to make themselves a buck out of property at the height of other people's misery is beyond me." X ELEVENTYTRILLIONTEEN...
Mr Sutliff said he and his Ray White staff were out in the following days helping their clients clean up.
"What we can't quantify is the human element, the emotional element, at a time like this. Some house prices in the area will be affected for a while I'd say, but each case will be different," he said.
"I would urge people not to panic about house prices. Do not panic sell as that's what these sorts of buyers are hoping for."
Martin Hood of Belle Property Graceville said he had received similar calls.
"Yes, I got some of those, too. It's awful, although one I spoke to probably didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings; he was just naive about it I think," he said.
"It just goes to show how different some people are when you see their first reaction to a disaster like this - some see the heartache, others see a way into the property market."
The impact of the flood can already be seen in the housing market, with many listings on realestate.com.au updated to include "not affected during 2011 floods".
Mr Hood had one property for sale which went under, located at Graceville, and its internet listing was one of the first to be updated to include its flood status.
The listing now reads: "Flood affected, owners have cleaned-up and are motivated to sell."
"I haven't had a chance to sit down with the owners of this property and discuss price with them yet but yes, there's no doubt the price will be affected by what's happened," Mr Hood said.
"I agree that buyers are probably going to expect to see discounts on these properties now, what percentage discount I don't know - but I don't think the market is likely to fall in these areas as much as the bargain hunters would like.
"The fact is, people are always going to like these areas for their beautiful homes, their access to the CBD, their cafes, schools, leafy streets and lovely community atmosphere - which has never been more apparent than in the past week."
Prestige agent John Johnston, who lives in the flood-affected suburb of Chelmer himself - said he would not take kindly to calls from any "property vultures".
"No I haven't had any calls like that yet - they wouldn't dare," he said.
He said the buyers lingering on the sidelines ready to buy homes from under distressed flood victims were likely to be disappointed.
"Most people who can afford to live on the river got to that position in life, I believe, because they have stood the test of time commercially and are not the types to panic sell."
Queensland's army of volunteers may have inadvertently saved insurance companies millions of dollars in payment for the removal of debris after the floods.
Suncorp Insurance and the Insurance Council of Australia both confirmed the removal of debris after floods was included in a policy.
Last weekend, 22,000 registered volunteers and possibly triple that amount who were unregistered, rolled up their sleeves to clean Brisbane's flooded homes, businesses and sporting clubs.
Thousands, including Premier Anna Bligh, were out in force yesterday, continuing the mop up.
For those who were fortunate enough to be insured, they would have been covered for the cost of the clean-up and removal of the debris.
''No two policies are the same but we believe [the clean-up of debris] is covered,'' Insurance Council of Australia said.
Suncorp Insurance spokesman Mike Sopinksi said in an email that Suncorp home building policy provided for the removal of debris from the site but did not put a figure on the average clean-up price.
''The cost of removal of debris from individual sites will vary from site to site,'' he wrote. ''Suncorp Insurance has received over 10,000 claims from across Queensland since Christmas,'' he said.