While current Covid-19 restrictions have banned mass open homes, private inspections are still permitted. The Consumer Affairs Victoria’s website was updated on Easter Monday stating, “private inspections of an occupied/tenanted residential property are permitted” when just the real estate agent and the person inspecting the property were present. Virtual home inspections are also still available. 

How private inspections will work

The social distancing restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic means that as long as the occupants of the home being inspected are not present, the physical private inspection between just the agent and the potential buyer can still take place. This means only two people are allowed to be in the property that is being inspected at any given time. 

While those in isolation are not allowed to leave their home, current occupants who are not in isolation can leave the property to exercise, attend work or education, care for someone, and shop for food and other necessary goods. The private inspection must be coordinated with the occupier or tenant leaving the premises for a legitimate reason listed above – not just to facilitate the inspection. For example, if the occupant does the grocery shopping, the private inspection can be arranged during that time. Occupants who leave their home without a legitimate reason could be fined.

We will also ensure that a potential buyer inspecting the property is not unwell and has no symptoms of Coronavirus before conducting a private inspection. 

How will hygiene be maintained during inspections?

When conducting a property inspection, we will ensure compliance and high levels of hygiene. During an inspection, our practical considerations include the use of gloves, masks and hand-sanitizer, close supervision of the potential buyer, asking occupants to leave doors and cabinets open, rather than allowing the potential buyer to do it themselves, and recording any area the person doing the inspection touches so we can clean and disinfect before the occupant returns. 

Who else is permitted to enter a property for sale or lease?

The current restrictions still allow someone to enter the property for the purpose of their work. This includes estate agents and their representatives, as well as someone conducting an appraisal or valuation, a pest/termite inspection and building inspections, and a trades person conducting repair work. 

Alternatives to private inspections 

If the potential buyers do not wish to inspect the house in person, or if you’re the current occupants or tenants of the property and you don’t want to leave or have others come into your home, we can still conduct an inspection virtually. This includes recording a video walk through of the property or live streaming an inspection. Another option is to wait until the property is vacant before conducting any physical inspections. 

Victoria briefly introduced a social distancing rule on Thursday 9 April, banning physical open home inspections of occupied homes, a rule that would have all but shut down the already struggling residential market. However, on Easter Monday, Consumer Affairs Minister, Marlene Kairouz, overturned the stricter regulations following heavy lobbying by the real estate industry.

Since the ban on public auctions and open homes from 25 March 25, 75 per cent of scheduled auctions in Victoria were switched to private sales. Domain figures also show the number of property listings in Victoria sit eight per cent lower when compared to the same time last year.