Alternatives to open homes, public auctions

By Gerv Tacadena | 25 Mar 2020

The Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) is calling on all real estate agents across the country to look for alternative ways to conduct their businesses amid the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, REIA President Adrian Kelly said past practices with open homes and public auctions need to cease given the advisory of the federal government to avoid unnecessary interactions in a bid to contain the coronavirus.

"We need to take the COVID-19 seriously. The deliberate organising of a gathering of people by a real estate agent flies in the face of the directives of the prime minister. To continue to arrange unmodified public open homes and auctions is clearly irresponsible," he said.

Kelly said agents can explore other strategies and methods to carry out their businesses.

Also read: The Right Investor Mindset For COVID-19

Private inspection by appointment is one of the strategies that should become the norm in the current market conditions. This should be coupled with the appropriate safeguards recommended by health authorities.

"With regard to public auctions, these can still occur via telephone bidding or by using one of the many online auction platforms available. We need to show some initiative and resourcefulness at this time," Kelly said.

Some property groups are already conducting virtual property tours. In a report in The Canberra Times, Upside Realty agent Catherine Halloran said there is an increased demand for virtual home inspections. Property valuations can now be done virtually.

"For me, the transition is more just an extension of our existing services. The sorts of things I find I'm seeing a little bit more of now are things like virtual tours of properties, like actually essentially Skype or FaceTime-style tours through a property for buyers who don't want to or can't attend," Halloran said.

The COVID-19 outbreak is expected to dampen activity in the housing market, according to some experts.

In a recent analysis, Eliza Owen, head of residential research at CoreLogic, said the while sales activity will likely be affected, house prices might not necessarily go down.

"In the short term, the coronavirus and subsequent share market declines have already had a significant impact on consumer confidence. This may lead to postponed dwelling purchases, as housing is an expensive, high commitment purchase decision," Owen said.

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