Champagne bottles are popping across the Victorian real estate industry as doors open to in-house inspections for the first time in two months.

Under the Andrews’ government’s COVID-19 stage 4 restrictions, only online inspections have been allowed since August 2, crippling a sector usually planning for its busiest season.

Vendors have struggled to sell properties which, not unnaturally, buyers don’t wish to purchase if they can’t physically see it, with landlords in a similar position.

The Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) has since been meeting with government and health officials to explain their position, which has affected virtually every person in some way with, as one Melbourne agent said, a roof over your head being a basic human right.

According to the REIV, the inability to conduct one-on-one inspections has resulted in plummeting transactions. The number of August auctions nosedived by over 80%, compared to recent years, while in September, numbers crashed to under 10 events per week.

As Victorian real estate starts over again today, REIV CEO Gil King was one of many to celebrate the industry’s victory and have high expectations of seeing a gradual return to Melbourne real estate transactions.
“This is great news for Victorians and should be seen as a positive and encouraging step towards a return to ‘normal’,” he said.

“This will be an enormous relief to buyers, sellers and renters alike, many of whom have been suffering severe financial and emotional stress over the past few weeks.”

Under the Andrews’ government’s new plan for real estate, private residential and display home inspections will be allowed via a prearranged appointment for up to 15 minutes. One agent and one potential buyer or tenant – or a couple – are allowed at these inspections. As well, the REIV has confirmed people can travel beyond their home’s 5km COVID-19 border to attend inspections; however, they can’t go to regional inspections. Auctions will continue to be conducted online. Marketing services including photographers and property furniture stylists are able to attend the property on a one-on-one basis, along with one agent.

Mr King added that the REIV is urging the state government to allow onsite home appraisals, in-line with the rules regarding property marketing, as well as onsite commercial real estate inspections.

“The REIV has repeatedly asked government to make their directions consistent for all property types,” he said.

“This has been achieved for regional Victoria for many weeks.”

REIV president Leah Calnan said the decision to assist people to buy, sell and rent homes was a great one.

“It is encouraging to see that the plight of many Victorians who were unable to make decisions about their own property has been reconsidered by the government,” she said.

“This decision is recognition that the real estate profession can be trusted to conduct inspections in a safe and responsible manner.”

Ms Calnan said the industry was privileged to be allowed to go back to work as there were many other industries which were still stagnant under the COVID-19 restrictions.

“We’ll do everything we can, and need to do, to make sure we’re compliant 100% of the time,” she said.

The next COVID-19 steps are expected to be announced on October 19.

Disclaimer: Correct information as of 28th September 2020.

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