The Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) is calling for real estate services to be classified as an essential service amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently announced stricter social distancing rules and the banning of public gatherings, including auctions. However, he said how these policies will be enforced will depend on each state.
Leah Calnan, president of REIV, said the Victorian government should regard real estate services as an essential service, in the event of further restrictions in response to the outbreak.
"While the provision of shelter itself is clearly an essential need, real estate professionals play a critical role in enabling the sale and purchase and ongoing management of shelter," Calnan said.
Calnan said the industry has acted quickly and responsibly in response to the efforts to contain the virus. She said safeguards were put in place, and real estate agents have employed new technology such as virtual reality inspections and online auctions.
Real estate industry is one of the largest contributors to the state's economy, making it a must to ensure that the industry continues to do its work, Calnan said.
"Real estate services must be deemed essential to ensure the ongoing provision of shelter and to protect the property market and broader economy from collapsing. Any risk to its trading would have a disastrous impact on all Victorians from both a personal and economic perspective," she added.
Calnan believes that despite the outbreak, the need to buy and sell properties will remain. Furthermore, Calnan said that for some, investing in bricks and mortar provides security amid the economic uncertainty.
"Property sales are sometimes necessary to avoid financial ruin. An inability to buy and sell property would exacerbate financial difficulties, crush confidence and potentially, negatively impact property values," she said.
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