For sale signs are starting to pop up on flood impacted houses in Lismore as owners test the market before making a decision on their future.
Rob Horder said his real estate business, PRD Northern Rivers, had not yet sold any of the flood impacted properties, but saw some hitting the market without price tags - selling "as is" and "open to expressions of interest".
"They're open to seeing what buyers are prepared to pay for a house that needs to be brought back to liveable standards - to either live in it, or on sell," Mr Horder said.
But it was too soon to tell if there was a good market for these properties.
While there were fewer inquiries from outside of the region, he said there was still strong interest in properties outside of the flood zone.
Mr Horder said homes on higher ground were still selling well, as were rural and lifestyle properties, and the region had not seen a downturn in prices as experienced in major cities.
"We haven't seen any reduction or any ease in prices. It usually takes 6-12 months to affect the market in regional areas," he said.
We haven't seen any reduction or any ease in prices. It usually takes 6-12 months to affect the market in regional areas- Rob Horder
The rise in interest rates last week was also unlikely to have an impact on sales or prices Mr Horder said.
Interest rates will "come up and come down", but he didn't anticipate they would rise to a point where housing would become unaffordable in the region.
Mr Horder praised his staff, saying rental property managers had a tough time after the flood - hearing people's stories and dealing with issues surrounding unliveable houses.
"They are amazing at what they do, it's a hard job," Mr Horder said.
It was also a tough time for landlords who were facing big repair bills and no income from their investment properties, he said.
"They still have mortgages to pay and no income coming in."
PRD's Lismore office in Molesworth St was impacted by the flood, but Mr Horder said they were fortunate to have signed a lease on a building in Casino prior to the flood, so staff are able to work from that office and another in Kyogle while they rebuild.
He hoped they will be ready to reopen the reception area in Lismore in two months, and they "just had to be patient" while landlords sourced builders to refit the building.
The $50,000 business grant was helpful, Mr Horder said, but would not cover all of their losses - they had refit their office in 2019.
While the flood has taken a toll on real estate in Lismore, Mr Horder remained optimistic.
"People will not stop buying or selling. The market keeps moving along," he said.
On a walk around of flood impacted areas late last week there were several streets with a few 'for sale' signs in the front yard.
Interesting times as the reconstruction phase of the region gathers full momentum over the coming months.