The Business Returns

REIV to resume operation amid pandemic; Expert notes perfect timing for selling and buying

After the Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on 8 May that auctions and open homes will be allowed in a reduced capacity as one of the first suggested steps in reopening the economy, the Victorian state government has confirmed to allow onsite property auctions and open inspections to return with few restrictions and the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) has backed up to the very idea.

The state government has established their plans to ease COVID-19 boundaries which include enabling onsite auctions and open inspections to return as of Wednesday, 13 May 2020. This means that the REIV operations will resume amid the pandemic that is threatening on a global scale.

However, the lift is not without its restrictions. The state government has made clear in a series of charts released by the federal government, auctions and real estate inspections must be limited to 10 people who would be allowed in step one, as long as every attendant’s contact details were recorded and logged. In phase two, it would allow 20 people with the same requirement of recording, and the same again for step three but for 100 people.

Leah Calnan
REIV President

The REIV president Leah Calnan commented on a news that: “The real estate sector is prepared to take the measures necessary to assist with a safe return to business.”  She further added: “The real estate sector has adapted extremely well during this pandemic. While restrictions are being lifted, the threat of the coronavirus remains and it is imperative that we continue to run auctions safely and responsibly. The REIV encourages all members to download the COVIDSafe app and implement strong safety protocols as we begin our return to work routines.”

In light with this ongoing decision, she also noted that “The REIV recommends that all individuals attending an open or auction should also download the app, provide contact details to the agent and follow social distancing measures as required.”

With the REIV encouraging its members to use this as an additional channel for wider engagement, Ms. Calnan noted that the online auctions have worked well over the last few weeks, saying that “having public auctions will inspire increased confidence in our economy. Auctioneers across the state are looking forward to getting back to what they do best.”

The decision was made clear amid the global pandemic, saying: “We are very excited about auctions coming back, [and] the real estate sector is prepared to do the right thing to ensure auctions and open for inspections are run safely.”

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In the other sense, experts believe that it is now a good time to buy new properties while the prices are low and there is much less competition in the market. An industry expert highlighted that the “COVID-19 pandemic has seen a sharp reduction in listings as buyers return to the market; meaning now could be a good time to sell your home.”

Joel Davoren
DirectorRE/MAX

It usually takes 90 days for a home to be sold, with sellers who wait two weeks until 3 June likely to have their place sold during the peak real estate months,” RE/MAX Australia director Joel Davoren explained.

He also added that “In a normally functioning real estate market, the average time for a listing tends to be 90 days. Ninety days — that’s a standard time in real estate terms. So, as of Wednesday, 3 June, we are a natural property transaction cycle away from spring, when it’s often said that people traditionally sell their homes.”

However, Mr. Davoren reminded sellers on waiting until 90 days out to start conversations with agents and take their property to the market, saying: “Don’t wait until your property is competing with all the other listings,” making the point that the real estate market continues to move forward as it has always done, although the natural transaction cycle may prove slightly different to the one we are used to.

In regards to this idea, Mr. Davoren believes that “Consumer sentiment is driving any downturn we are seeing in the real estate market rather than economic sentiment; and it is the ‘little things’ like being able to go for a 50 km drive then a 150 km drive, and like easing up on or removing restrictions around open homes, that will lift consumer sentiment. I won’t be surprised to see an increase in new listings over the coming weeks.”

Mr. Davoren said given most of the downturn is consumer sentiment, if sellers are proactive with their properties, buyers will follow. “Hearing that real estate restrictions have been peeled back, that they, for instance, may attend open homes and auctions — abiding distancing rules and safe hygiene practices — will boost consumer sentiment,” he said. He also noted that while clearly recognising the trying times that many in our communities are facing, pent-up buyer appetite does exist out there in the market, as demonstrated by record numbers on the property portals.

He suggested that sellers and buyers, together with the agents, should not fall back into old habits because the real estate landscape has shifted through COVID-19.

Giving a constant reminder, Mr. Davoren said, “When choosing an agent, sellers need to look at that agent’s performance through the worst of the restrictions — through those first six to eight weeks, also stated that a new benchmark now existed for the way agents should be connecting with buyers and sellers, and there was an observable shift in how agents were working with buyers.

After a series of suggestions and insights, Mr. Davoren concluded: “Before this crisis, we had already seen a shift towards this new trend, but agents were still predominantly relying on the property to draw the buyer. The pandemic has proved to be the catalyst for an increasing focus on the buyer and driving momentum for working harder and smarter and better matching buyers with property.”

Through this point, it is clear that it might be a perfect timing for both sellers and buyers to engage into business transactions as well as the right point for agents to get involved into the process.

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