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Melbourne listings skyrocket as buyers flock to inspect properties one-on-one

By Ben Jusufi

The number of properties coming on the market across Melbourne has jumped to its highest level since March, skyrocketing by 241 per cent over the past week alone, new data shows.

However, new listings are still well down on those usually seen in the busy spring selling season, with Domain data showing they’re down 42.3 per cent compared with this time last year.

All in-person real estate activity was banned in Melbourne for seven weeks under stage 4 restrictions introduced in early August, including one-on-one inspections, plunging the property market into hiatus.

Following Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ announcement on September 28 that the restrictions would be eased and private inspections would be allowed, the leap in listings was instant.

Boroondara had the biggest lift over the week, with the inner city, Bayside, Yarra and Port Phillip making up the top five areas of Melbourne where the volume of new listings rose, the data showed.

Senior research analyst Nicola Powell said pent-up demand from buyers and sellers was pushing a fast rebound in listings.

“That’s what we would expect,” Dr Powell said. “It’s really textbook to what we have seen across the globe in countries like New Zealand that also went through a lockdown.”

New Zealand’s market was the strongest it had been in years following their restrictions, which were similarly tight to Melbourne’s and Dr Powell said she expected listings would continue to rise through the next few months.

One area property watchers would be keeping their eyes on would be Melbourne’s CBD, where many rentals have been sitting empty following the exodus of international students and inner city workers who have been kept away during the pandemic, Dr Powell said.

Dingle Partners director Robert Eggers said investors had already been listing their inner-city rentals for sale — but strong first-home buyer demand was seeing the one and two-bedroom apartments snapped up.

The best sellers were those priced between $300,000 and $560,000, Mr Eggers said.

“I haven’t personally seen a downturn in the market yet,” he said. “We have definitely been busy.”

While the number of properties hitting the market in Melbourne has spiked, it has been a different story in regional Victoria.

Restrictions on the property market in regional cities were eased on September 13, allowing one-on-one inspections to go ahead weeks before they were given the green light in Melbourne. Public auctions, with limits on the number of people who can attend, were reintroduced less than a week later.

The Domain data showed that although new listings in regional Victoria had risen by 24.8 per cent over the past month, the number of new properties listed for sale has slowed more recently – new listings were down by 12.6 per cent between September 28 and October 4.

And compared to this time last year — regional Victoria’s spring selling market — new listings figures are only down by 5.8 per cent.

Demand for property in Victoria’s regional towns spiked during the pandemic, so much so that the number of buyers from Melbourne tripled in some country areas as people looked to escape the lockdown.

The fact Melburnians were still unable to visit regional Victoria to inspect a property due to the five-kilometre radius restrictions was dampening some of that strong demand for a country home, Dr Powell said.

Ray White Victoria and Tasmania chief executive Stephen Dullens said agents across the city and in regional areas had been run off their feet in the past few weeks.

“We’ve listed just over 300 new listings in the last seven days,” Mr Dullens said. “The challenge now is how do we handle all the demand,” he said.

Agents were booking a lot of appointments for buyers to inspect properties and were working with some vendors who wanted to sell quickly.

While city based buyers couldn’t travel to regional Victoria, online auctions were being held in regional areas, including those not normally known for holding sales under the hammer, to capture some of the Melbourne and even Sydney markets.

At the weekend, one home at 8 El Alamein Avenue, Swan Hill, sold at an online auction for $370,000 — $60,000 above the reserve to a local buyer, with a Sydney bidder registering for the sale.

The tightly held property near Little Murray River had 33 people watch the sale online, with six buyers actively bidding, Ray White Swan Hill’s Cameron Smits said.

Along with a surge in the number of new listings, the number of appraisals were also on the rise.

Barry Plant chief executive Mike McCarthy said the company had seen a 40 per cent lift in requests for appraisals, to get a price on a home before it is listed for sale, since early August.

“It just goes to show that people need to get on with buying and selling,” Mr McCarthy said.

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