Regional Victorian real estate agents wary of push for private inspections from Melbourne house-hunters



Real estate agents in Victoria’s regions are wary of a push to allow locked-down Melburnians to inspect properties outside the city, in the wake of a regional NSW lockdown sparked by a house-hunter.


The Real Estate Institute of Victoria wrote to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews this week, asking him to allow potential buyers to privately inspect homes across the state, including in regional Victoria.


In-person auctions and inspections are currently banned across Melbourne, although regional residents are now out of lockdown and can tour properties.


This compares to NSW, where Sydneysiders are allowed to travel to inspect properties, though many regional agents do not want them to do so after an infectious Sydney man who said he was looking to buy property allegedly travelled to Byron Bay.


REIV president Leah Calnan said Melbourne was much better placed than Sydney with fewer coronavirus cases and, as agents had COVID-safe plans in place,  inspections would be able to be undertaken safely.


“The industry as a whole has proved it can provide a safe environment using masks and hand sanitiser and ensuring there is no-one at home during inspections, so there’s no reason why we couldn’t do that across the state,” Ms Calnan said.


“Having restrictions really affects those who need to relocate or who have sold and need to buy again.”


The REIV said the inspection ban was leaving desperate home buyers and sellers across the state in stressful situations.


“Our members regularly convey the severe hardship many of their clients are facing,” the letter said. “Suffocating a sector with unnecessary rules is already impacting the health, safety and mental well-being of the community and we shudder at the thought of potential longer-term consequences.”


The call for private inspections comes as experts warn Melbourne will endure more lockdowns to stop the spread of the Delta variant until vaccination rates lift.


But some regional agents do not agree with the move.

In the Macedon Ranges, 80 per cent of the buyers come from Melbourne, but Keatings Real Estate agent Peter Wood said home sellers would be far too nervous to let Melburnians inspect properties during a lockdown.


“I think people’s preference –  my vendors’ – would be to wait until things are under control before letting people into the area,” Mr Wood said.


People were willing to wait to sell their homes, he added, even though the number of people able to look through homes would be significantly fewer.


Jellis Craig Ballarat partner Matt Wiltshire said it would depend on the vendor, with some unlikely to let Melburnians inspect during a lockdown while others would be willing.


“Vendors know that with Melbourne buyers there, they will receive a higher price at auction – but the flipside of the coin is it does open the gates for the virus to come regional and put us back in lockdown,” Mr Wiltshire said. “It’s a catch-22.”


Mr Wiltshire said there had been many desperate buyers looking to get into the Ballarat market from Melbourne who had already sold their houses, were looking to buy before settlement and may have missed out on three or four homes already.


In Victoria’s largest regional city, Geelong, McGrath Geelong’s David Cortous said not all vendors would be happy to have Melburnians inspect their homes when they were in lockdown.

This was despite the Geelong market benefiting from Melbourne buyers.


Mr Cortous said buyers in Melbourne had resorted to asking family, friends or buyer’s agents based in Geelong to inspect properties on their behalf.


Around Daylesford, McQueen Real Estate’s Kim McQueen said around 98 per cent of the buyers she dealt with were from Melbourne and she would be happy to have them inspect homes as long as the sellers agreed.


“I think absolutely, as long as agencies have COVID-safe plans in place using masks and sanitisers and as long as the vendors are obviously agreeable, I think one-on-one appointments should be able to take place,” Ms McQueen said.


Tweed Sutherland First National Bendigo director and auctioneer Matt Leonard said private inspections should be able to go ahead only for Melburnians who had been fully vaccinated against coronavirus.


“If someone is fully vaccinated then they should be able to – following guidelines – travel and inspect properties in regional Victoria,” he said.


Mr Leonard said a lot of pressure was being placed on the local market with Melbourne-based buyers unable to inspect properties they would normally make an offer on.


He said letting fully vaccinated people inspect properties could encourage prospective buyers to get the jab.



Ref: MELISSA HEAGNEY| SENIOR JOURNALIST  (on 13  Aug 2021). Regional Victorian real estate agents wary of push for private inspections from Melbourne house-hunters. Retrieved from


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