Avalanche of listings expected as private inspections restart in Melbourne
A flood of buyers and sellers is expected to hit Melbourne’s real estate market this weekend as it springs back to life following the news in-person inspections can now go ahead.
In a last-minute reprieve for the weekend market, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Thursday announced private inspections could go ahead in “unoccupied” properties for sale, including those where vendors simply needed to leave home while the inspections were held.
It provided clarification of an announcement Mr Andrews made two weeks ago, which left agents, vendors and buyers confused over whether “unoccupied” meant inspections could only occur in completely vacant properties where someone had moved out.
That confusion resulted in a lacklustre response from sellers. Instead of the usual immediate snap-back in property market activity, new listings were subdued, rising by 38.8 per cent over the week to August 30 and 9.9 per cent over the week to September 6, on Domain data.
Agents blamed confusion over what “unoccupied property” inspections meant, saying it held vendors back.
The end of previous lockdowns saw far more dramatic and immediate responses. At the end of Melbourne’s fifth lockdown, listings soared by a massive 150.6 per cent in the space of a single week.
Now, with in-person inspections given the green light, agents are tipping Melbourne’s market will bounce back just as quickly and are expecting an “avalanche” of new listings.
“What we know, because this is not our first rodeo, is that there’ll be a major rush, as there has been the past five times when lockdowns eased,” Fletchers Canterbury director and auctioneer Tim Heavyside said.
“Particularly after long lockdowns, there seems to be a huge, pent-up demand from vendors, like last year where there was a big flood of owners wanting to push the button and list,” he said.
“I think what that illustrates is that many sellers were ready to list but waiting for the [more solid] announcement of an easing of restrictions,” she said.
While many homeowners were put off by the thought of selling their home vacant, Dean Kelly had actually seen it as a way to get ahead of the market.
Mr Kelly is ready to list his Balwyn North home, having used lockdown to pack it up, and said he was prepared to sell it vacant because it made the whole inspection process easier overall.
“If you have a full-time job but they decided to come around, I don’t have a calendar to say, ‘oh, I’ll just take a walk’ [to not be at home],” he said.
“The plan had always been to be right there in the front of the line because there will be a lot of competition now.”
Mr Kelly is packing up to move to the Bellarine Peninsula, looking for a beachside lifestyle with his partner because the pandemic has meant he is able to work from home.
“I love this house – it’s ideal for younger kids because it has a big court for basketball and cricket and it’s near to the schools – but it’s someone else’s turn now,” he said.
While Mr Kelly had planned his exit to cover any interpretation of the new rules for property inspections, Barry Plant Victoria director Mike McCarthy said the announcement would be a great relief for many buyers and sellers waiting on the sidelines for the market to reopen.
“There’s no doubt people are ready to get back in the market and I think most vendors will list with confidence that they will be able to get genuine buyers through,” Mr McCarthy said.
With buyers able to inspect properties, they would also feel more confident bidding online, with bans on public auctions still in place.
Real estate inspections will resume by appointment only. The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services said that to ensure they’re COVIDSafe, only people from the same household can attend the inspection appointment and the real estate agent must stay outdoors during the inspection.
Ray White Victoria chief executive Stephen Dullens said he expected the weekend to be extremely busy with keen buyers ready to book inspections one-on-one.
“We expect Saturday is going to be a busy day with a lot of COVID-safe inspections,” Mr Dullens said. “We know buyers are champing at the bit to get back out there.”
Originally published as: Avalanche of listings expected as private inspections restart in Melbourne