Open for inspections and auctions can now return

Peter Hill

REAL estate agents in Sale have welcomed the state government’s decision to allow ‘open for inspections’ and on-site property auctions to return with restrictions.

Graham Chalmer Real Estate director Mark Ventrella said that like all in the community, he welcomed any relaxing of restrictions that would enable everyone to get back to normal safely. However, Mr Ventrella stressed his company would not be rushing into anything.

However, Mr Ventrella stressed his company would not be rushing into anything.

“We will be feeling our way forward,” he said.

“We meet as directors on Thursday morning and will decide then when to resume our open houses and auctions.”

Mr Ventrella said property auctions were not as dominant in the local market as in Melbourne, where they formed the majority of sales.

“We find people here respond better to an asking price,” he said.

“We of course auction properties where there is a need for transparency, such as deceased estates, or where there is a factor that is hard to value, such as position or view,” he said.

While there has been a drop in the number of enquiries during the restrictions imposed by the State of Emergency, Mr Ventrella said the local real estate market had held up well.

He put the drop in enquiries down to buyers who were merely looking to gain an understanding of market values postponing their business.

However, people who were keen to buy or were in need of housing because of relocating to the district for work were still in the market and buying.

Mr Ventrella said his firm had made changes to its office staffing roster to ensure social distancing and service provision to customers.

“We have a nine-on, nine-off roster, so we can maintain distancing and service our surprisingly strong demand,” he said.

Wellington Real Estate director Tony Kiss explained his firm would also be cautious in making any changes.

“There aren’t a lot of auctions in the local area, but I’m sure that when we have one people will use common sense and the social distancing will be easily managed,” he said.

“With open houses, we will hold off on any blanket openings, out of courtesy to the home owners, and show due respect by only conducting them by appointment.”

Mr Kiss also said the local market had held up well, as those looking for real estate at the moment were serious.

The government announced plans to ease COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria on Monday, which included that property auctions and open for inspections could return on Wednesday.

Both on-site property auctions and open for inspections will be restricted to 10 people in addition to staff required to facilitate the auction or inspection, and the contact details of attendees will be recorded.

Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Leah Calnan said the real estate sector was prepared to take the measures necessary to assist with a safe return to business.

“The real estate sector has adapted extremely well during this pandemic,” she said.

“While restrictions are being lifted, the threat of coronavirus remains,E and it is imperative that we continue to run auctions safely and responsibly.”