Buyers and renters in Melbourne will once again be able to inspect homes one-on-one after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced tough coronavirus-related restrictions will be eased.
From Monday, Melburnians will be able to inspect properties one-on-one with an agent. A housemate, or partner and children are also allowed at inspections, under the relaxed rules. Inspections must have a 15-minute time limit.
The Real Estate Institute of Victoria confirmed that those looking for a new home will be able to travel farther than five kilometres from home to inspect a property across the city.
Domain asked the Department of Health and Human Services for clarification on this, but did not receive an answer by the time of publication.
While buyers and renters can travel farther from home, Melbourne residents will not be allowed to travel to regional Victoria to inspect properties, however.
Strict stage 4 restrictions, in place since early August, meant one-on-one inspections were banned, which essentially shut down the Melbourne market and heavily affected sales in regional Victoria.
Auctions will continue to be held online in Melbourne. Photo: Stephen McKenzie
Melbourne’s usually buoyant spring selling season was forced exclusively online as real estate agencies were closed their doors, and online auctions — which ground to a halt once inspections were no longer permitted— were conducted from auctioneer’s homes or even backyards.
That ban was expected to be in place until October 26, but Sunday’s changes were made as the number of newly diagnosed coronavirus cases in Melbourne continue to fall. The announcement follows a tough time for Melbourne’s buyers and sellers, as well as renters and landlords who have had to negotiate a market where restrictions on public auctions and open for inspections have been in place since earlier this year.
Melbourne’s auction clearance rate has slumped to 0 per cent for most of September, rising slightly on Saturday to 25 per cent from 32 auctions were scheduled and 28 results reported.
Those looking to buy after selling their own home were unable to inspect other properties, leaving many to fear they would be homeless.
Renters likewise were unable to inspect a new rental to move at the end of a lease.
Many in the industry, including Melbourne’s buyers and sellers, were hoping today’s announcement would happen much sooner.
Agencies and the Real Estate Institute of Victoria had been campaigning to see one-on-one inspections be allowed under the tough stage 4 restrictions, citing ways the industry could operate safely.
They welcomed the Premier’s announcement on Sunday, with many saying it was a great relief to the industry and to vendors and buyers.
REIV president Leah Calnan said the announcement was “great news” for the industry which had been suffering through the tough restrictions.
“It has been increasingly difficult for everyone who is either working within the real estate industry or trying to buy, sell or rent a home,” Ms Calnan said.
Tenants will be able to inspect homes under the new restrictions in Melbourne. Photo: Peter Rae
Real estate agents have previously undertaken one-on-one inspections without incident, she said.
Barry Plant chief executive Mike McCarthy said the announcement was a relief for agencies.
“It’s a big relief – more for buyers and sellers out there who need to get on with business,” Mr McCarthy said. “People can start getting on with their lives.”
Mr McCarthy said the industry was waiting to see whether professional photographers would be able to work, and take photos and videos of homes that would be listed for sale as the market re-opens.
Gary Peer Real Estate’s Gary Peer said clients who had been holding off from selling, would now be looking to list.
“There’s no question that there is a massive amount of people wanting to look at homes,” Mr Peer said. “It’s encouraging and I like to think we can still have a spring market.”
Kay & Burton South Yarra chairman Gerald Delany was likewise relieved with the announcement and said the agency would be working with clients on a new plan for sales.
“It will really re-ignite the industry from tomorrow,” Mr Delany said.
Hodges chief executive Carmel Kellett called the announcement “common sense”.
The industry would need to continue to work safely in the future as the risk of coronavirus continues, she said.
“There’s no doubt over the next few months, arguably the next six months, we will be working very differently than we have in the past,” Ms Kellett said. “The most important thing is people can inspect properties and find the new house of their dreams.”