Buyers, sellers relieved after private inspection ban lifted in Melbourne

September 28, 2020English

Buyers, sellers relieved after private inspection ban lifted in Melbourne

September 28, 2020
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Would-be Ringwood buyer Trish Curtis cheered when told one-on-one inspections would be allowed from Monday.

After selling her home earlier this year, and moving out two weeks ago, she had been living with a friend because finding a new home to buy proved difficult without being able to inspect it first.

“Oh my god, that’s brilliant,” she said. “I’m very pleased. It will enable me and other people in my situation to search for their new properties.”

Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday announced the inspection ban for real estate would be lifted, allowing private inspections of no more than 15 minutes. The move is expected to thaw Melbourne’s frozen property market.

Ms Curtis said she was luckier than some others put out by the ban. She was only out of pocket for double the moving costs.

“I’ve been fortunate to be offered a room in a friend’s house,” she said. “The fact that because people can’t list at the moment, [it makes it difficult].

“From an industry perspective if a property is vacant I can’t see why photographers and agents can’t go to the property to list it online in a professional way.

“I’ve been house hunting now since April.”

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Ms Curtis felt she would make it out alright now the ban has been lifted.

Seller Elizabeth Verrill was struggling to find a buyer for her CBD rental through lockdown, after first listing it in May.

The apartment at 301/9 Bligh Place had sat empty since then, and Ms Verrill said not being able to show the home to purchasers had made it nearly impossible to sell.

“I was surprised, frustrated and disappointed. It didn’t seem very logical,” she said. “There were people who were interested and they dropped off [after the ban].”

The unit is a rental, and she’d been liable for both her mortgages since her tenant left.

“Financially it’s put me in a very difficult situation,” she said. “No one could foresee this. When you take a risk as an investor you know of the risk of maybe being left without a tenant for a month but you wouldn’t expect to not be able to get out of your investment if you wanted to sell.”

Ms Verrill was selling through Nelson Alexander, and director Arch Staver said the move by the state government was a relief for his clients and staff.

“Many of them are pretty distressed. Allowing us to try to get an outcome is a big win,” he said. “It won’t send the industry into a trajectory of boom offerings and boom results.

“But it will let us help those people who are in really tough circumstances. All of that is a good thing for the mental health of our staff as well.”

Ray White Victoria and Tasmania chief executive Stephen Dullens said it had been clear during the lockdown very few people were willing to buy or rent without an inspection.

“For our customers it’s really fantastic. It will allow them to transact again and most importantly we think the industry has displayed they can do this in a safe manner and we take that responsibility really seriously,” he said. “The reality is there’s a lot of people who just have to buy, sell, rent or move and the restrictions in the last eight weeks really hindered that.

“The vast majority of people who want to inspect a property before making a life changing decision, they just want to be able to do that.”

Marshall White director John Bongiorno said it would give the hibernating property market more life.

“There will be a rush of listings come on and a rush of activity full stop,” he said. “There’s a lot of buyers ready and poised and ready to strike.”

Mr Bongiorno said his company would consider changing the length of the traditional four-week auction campaign to make the most of the built-up demand.

“Nothing has been normal this year,” he said. “We’ve got to be flexible and adaptable to the market. The old scenario of marketing a property for four weeks, that will just go out the door.

“There’s so much demand at the moment that I think it could be detrimental in some instances to drag a campaign out for four weeks.”