A resurgence of coronavirus is wreaking havoc in the South Eastern Australian states are making unexpected changes to the property market. While previously the outlook for homes for sale was all doom and gloom, in actual fact, regional property demand has reached staggering heights as more and more people look for ways out of the city and back to freedom. Of course, if you are going to be spending more time at home, what better place than a home with a view. As a result, the property market is thriving and to combat the risk of spreading illness, different states around Australia have issued new guidelines to follow in the case of Open for Inspections.
These guidelines allow business to continue, bringing much relief to home buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants who do not necessarily have to shelve their plans to buy, sell or lease, provided they follow the guidelines issued by the authorities.
Here are the guidelines issued by the authorities in some of the Australian states for open for inspection.
With the current rate of outbreaks in Melbourne pushing to a State of Disaster, most of the Greater Metro region is under stage 4 lockdown, while regional Victoria is subject to stage 3 restrictions. Because of the seriousness of this level of outbreak Victorians must comply with a greater number of requirements before an inspection of a property can take place.
Wearing a facemask is compulsory
All Victorians must wear face masks outside their homes. The requirements apply across the board to all home buyers, agents, landlords and any other mediators.
Landlords, tenants and agents are able to deny prospective buyers or tenants entry to the property if they are not wearing masks. At the same time, home seekers also have the right to request the landlords and agents to wear a mask.
Can the State order me to wear a face mask?
The Victorian government has invoked a ‘State of Disaster’ which gives the State Health Officer the ability to override any objections in the broader interest of your health and the health of the community. There are some medical and special conditions that mean masks do not have to be worn, however, these conditions do not necessarily make it safe for you to be going to home opens, so careful consideration needs to be taken into account before you enter a home or have contact with other people.
Those who refuse to wear a mask are liable to a fine of $200, with fines increasing for subsequent offences, running into thousands of dollars.
No face-to-face inspections and open homes allowed in Victoria
Be prepared to go digital. Because of the severity of the State of Disaster, the Victorian Government has requested that ‘property and real estate’ close for at least six weeks beginning 6 August. Online inspections and auctions to go ahead across Melbourne and in some regional areas of Victoria.
Of course, you can still see a property in person, it’s simply a matter of only limiting a property open to those parties that are serious about a property purchase. We all know how misleading (both in good and bad ways) a digital walkthrough can be, which is why prospective buyers and tenants in regional Victoria can inspect the property online via a digital inspection. If they like what they see, they can schedule an appointment with the agent for a private walkthrough.
You cannot bring guests with you on the walk through, it will just be the buyer and the agent present.
Agents Must Adhere to a High Standard of Hygiene
Landlords and or the selling agent must ensure that suitable hygienic practices are in place before, during, and after the visit including social distancing. Any surface or item touched during the walk through needs to be de-contaminated, including door handles and keys.
Using personal hand sanitiser before and after a visit will also reduce the risk of passing on or picking up virus particles.
What Should Victorian Home Seekers and new Tenants Do?
Landlords and prospective home buyers or tenants in regional Victoria should opt for online site inspections. If they like what they have seen online, they can seek an online appointment with the landlord/agent for a personal walkthrough.
What About the Five Kilometre Rule in Melbourne?
Those in Stage 4 lockdown areas are not allowed to travel more than five kilometres from their homes without an exemption. You can apply for an exemption but need to show that the property purchase is due to an emergency situation. If not, it is best to apply for properties within your safe zone radius until the Stage 4 restrictions are eased.
New South Wales
In New South Wales, open for inspection regulations are more relaxed for the time being. People can visit homes for inspection provided the premises has at least 4sqm space for each visitor. It is up to the real estate agent or landlord to see that the correct measurements are taken and the correct number of people are admitted at any one time.
As an added precaution all sites will provide hand sanitizers and the windows and doors on the premises will be opened during the visit to allow fresh air to circulate. All visitors to the site must observe social distancing, this is up to each individual to maintain. People with flu-like symptoms cannot enter an open for inspection site and should stay at home to stop the spread of infection, even without a positive test.
Although wearing masks is not compulsory in New South Wales, the government encourages people to wear masks when in crowded and congested places.
What must landlords and home buyers/ tenants in New South Wales do?
Coronavirus cases in New South Wales have been on the rise recently. Landlords, home buyers and those seeking properties to lease, should exercise caution.
Having a video inspection of the property can mean avoiding unnecessary personal contact. Both the landlord and the persons interested in the property can seek a repeat video session to resolve any doubts that they might have after the first online video inspection.
After the buyer or tenant is satisfied with the video inspection, an appointment can be sought for a personal walkthrough. This way both the agent and the home buyer can avoid unnecessary trips to the property.
Expect that the number of visitors will be kept as small as possible to allow for social distancing. This isn’t an indication that there is less interest in the property, you can ask the agent for numbers of walk throughs provided, keeping in mind that a higher percentage than normal will be motivated to continue with the sale as sticky beaks number will be down.
What Can Landlords or Agents Offer to Increase Availability and Boost Results?
Have outstanding video footage of the property using the services of a professional videographer. Professional videographers know how to highlight a property’s strengths and also understand what buyers and clients are looking for.
A video shoot is a one-time investment that can be used over and over, whenever a see through is requested.
Replace face-to-face opens with face-to-face online interviews. If an agent is flexible enough to make one-on-one video contact with each prospective buyer or tenant, they are able to get a better feel for what is required and how this property will meet their goals.
The rules regulating open for inspection is Western Australia are lenient given the state’s containment of infection. You are required to maintain social distancing and use hand sanitiser as part of hygiene protocols.
Open for Inspections in Queensland are allowed, however, the number of visitors are restricted to a maximum of 20, but may be less, depending on the area of the premises.
Agents are not allowed to hand out brochures. Social distancing, avoiding physical contact and the use of sanitizers are encouraged. Doors and windows should be kept open, not just for open for inspections but also any time there is a visitor to the property, such as the agent or a pest inspection team.
South Australia allows for inspection of properties by prospective buyers but the landlord/agent has to ensure proper social distancing. Tenants occupying, if any, have to leave the premises to minimise contact.
Open homes and rental inspections can take place in Northern Territory as usual, provided all visitors follow the standard directions for social distancing. The onus to ensure this rests with the property agent.
Australian Capital Territory
Open house and rental visits have returned to normalcy in Australian Capital Territory. Landlords will need to ensure that each person has 4 sqm of space to themselves and social distancing has to be observed.
Agents must record personal details of visitors
Agents all over Australia have to record the details of the visitors to all open for inspection properties.
In the event of someone who visited the home – the residents or the open agent getting sick with Coronavirus, it is essential they be able to contact anyone who has come in close contact. This is the best way to ensure early detection and limit the spread of infection. Every person present will need to sign in and leave contact details. The details will include the name, address and the contact number of all the visitors to the properties.
These details will be kept by the agent for at least eight weeks. If the state health authorities feel the need, they should be given access to these details on request.
We have to accept that the coronavirus pandemic is not going away anytime soon. Most businesses are moving online with staff requested to work from home wherever possible.
Landlords and prospective home buyers and tenants right across Australia, but especially in Victoria and New South Wales, will need to plan for online site inspections wherever possible. This is the best way to keep business moving and minimise the risks. The sooner we get publicly contracted cases of Coronavirus under control, the sooner we can return to a more normal life. As always, you will need to engage a Conveyancer to complete your home sale and settlement. You can further minimise the risk of spreading infection by booking a one-on-one video meeting to discuss your needs and see your sale through.