Lockdown knockdowns: the Melbourne properties that are most popular during inspection bans
On-site auctions and home inspections are set to resume in all parts of regional Victoria, except Greater Shepparton, as lockdown restrictions are eased.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Wednesday regional Victoria would be freed from strict stay-at-home orders from midnight Thursday.
It means those living outside metropolitan Melbourne and the Shepparton council region will no longer have just five reasons to leave their homes.
Businesses will reopen with strict density caps, and private house inspections and auctions will resume.
From Friday, up to 10 people plus an agent will be allowed at inspections in regional Victoria and up to 10 attendees will be permitted at auctions.
Until today, all in-person inspections and auctions were banned across the state, with just virtual ones allowed.
Melbourne’s restrictions so far remain unchanged, but Mr Andrews flagged an easing of Shepparton’s rules could come as early as next week if case numbers permitted.
Mr Andrews said regional Victorians did a “fantastic job” clamping down on the virus, which had made the reduced restrictions possible.
“There will be limits, as I have said a number of times now, it is not a snap back or freedom day or 100 per cent capacity down at the pub. It can’t be,” Mr Andrews said.
“(But) there will be a degree of freedom in regional Victoria that has been hard won and regional Victorians have done a fantastic job.”
Buxton Highton director Ben Riddle said the Geelong market would take a week or more to resume substantial volumes of trading.
More than 80 per cent of his agency’s auctions for this week had already been postponed and he said it would take another week or two before they went under the hammer to provide time for buyers to inspect.
“While I have a high level of appreciation for the government’s goals, we were scraping the bottom of the barrel last weekend from an auction perspective,” Mr Riddle said.
“People were desperate enough to buy something sight unseen.”
He pointed to the auction of 12 Hilltop St, Herne Hill, which sold $1.312m last weekend and attracted 17 registered bidders, including 11 who had never seen it before.
Ray White Ballarat director Phillip Lee said today’s announcement was “good news” for regional sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants.
He expected a “rush” of activity on the market as soon as restrictions eased, and said it was a big relief to be able to send photographers back into homes to take photos for listings.
But he warned any Melburnian thinking of breaking the rules to attend property inspections or auctions in Ballarat would be turned away in line with the health directives.
“It’s our responsibility to cite photo IDs, … it’s in the law that we must do that and we want to do that for the safety of our clients and the safety of our owners and our staff,” Mr Lee said.
“We can do video tours for (Melbourne buyers), … or we’ve had a lot of people who have a relative living in Ballarat and they’ve had someone attend to have a look on their behalf.”
Barry Plant Bendigo marketing co-ordinator Ben Parkes said he expected his agency’s first inspections would kick off as early as Friday.
Tenants and buyers were keen to get a look inside homes, and he said enquiries on listings had been high throughout the lockdown.
Kevin Hicks Real Estate boss Kevin Hicks said Shepparton locals recognised the need for the lockdown there to continue. But eased restrictions from next week would come in the nick of time to start the town’s busy spring peak.
“This is the most important time of the year,” Mr Hicks said.
“There’s a genuine need for people to purchase and relocate.
“So there are people lined up to look at property.”
He advised Melbourne-based buyers looking in the region to consider a buyer’s advocate who could inspect on their behalf.
In the meantime, he is expecting the auction action to continue online with the sale of a lifestyle property at 485 Ardmona Rd, Ardmona, this Friday.
Realestate.com.au executive manager economic research Cameron Kusher said regional Victoria would likely not return to a full-strength market until Melburnians were also able to inspect regional homes.
“A lot of the demand there is coming from Melbourne, and they still can’t travel,” Mr Kusher said.
He noted one-on-one inspections allowed in Sydney were making a difference.
“The magnitude of the decline in new listings and sales (there) is nowhere near the level of Victoria’s,” Mr Kusher said.
The Real Estate Institute of Victoria this week launched full-page ads in Melbourne newspapers calling for the government to resume one-on-one property inspections.
“Victorians are being denied their basic right to rent, buy and sell a home,” the call penned by REIV chief executive Gil King reads.
“The financial and emotional stress of losing deposits, defaulting on contracts and not being able to secure appropriate living arrangements is leaving families in distress and endangering lives.”
Mr King also noted the industry had proven it could operate safely under restrictions, and that the sector was now effectively shut down with restrictions remaining banned.
– with Rebecca DiNuzzo
Originally published as: Lockdown knockdowns: the Melbourne properties that are most popular during inspection bans