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Melbourne prices set to surge as restrictions ease

By Mo Zeitouneh

Melbourne home prices are tipped to surge following the lifting of a seven-week ban on home inspections over the weekend, due to pent-up buyer demand and a lack of stock.

Agents report inspection bookings started flowing when the news was announced, but many restrictions still remain, with only one set of buyers allowed at properties at any time.

Vendors cannot be on site, while agents must remain outside, leaving buyers alone in the property, raising some security concerns.

It also heavily limits the number of buyers who can view homes for sale. Another immediate issue is getting the backlog of properties on to the market, with photographers and stylists booked weeks out.

Melbourne agent Luke Banitsiotis showing a property at Doncaster after the lifting a seven-week ban on home inspections.  Photo by Eamon Gallagher

Real Estate Institute Victoria president Leah Calnan said the state’s agents had been doing it tough with multiple lockdowns and that new property listings were down 90 per cent on a normal year because of the inspection ban. But she expects a sharp bounce-back.

“There is a large pent-up demand and if this trend is the same as last year, because we are in a very similar situation, we’ll see a continued rise in house prices again,” Ms Calnan said.

She predicts it will take up to two months for supply and demand to rebalance.

“I would anticipate it’s somewhere between four and eight weeks, realistically, because we know that photographers have a two- to four-week backlog of work that they need to undertake,” she said.

“We might as a result see shorter auction campaigns in order to make more sales in a shorter period of time.”

Luke Banitsiotis from Woodards in Blackburn said the ban was really tough for people who had bought without selling just before.

“For those clients who had pre-committed but needed to sell something to fund the purchase, it definitely created some challenges for them. If there was inflexibility in terms of settlement dates they were faced with some nervous times,” Mr Banitsiotis said.

“On the positive side, we had a really good run with people who were willing to purchase off virtual inspections for stock that was already there, which is probably a sign of demand.”

He said stock levels were “definitely down” but the pipeline was looking good.

“It’s looking likely that the stock that we do have is still not going to meet demand. It feels like there’s plenty of people waiting in the wings.

“The moment we opened inspections up yesterday for Saturday on some properties there were 15 people registered within the first two hours.”

Josh Stirling, principal at McGrath St Kilda, said October was set to be the biggest auction month ever for his agency due to the August and September property backlog.

“A lot of our September auctions have been pushed into October, adding to the properties that were already listed for October,” Mr Stirling said.

“We did have some online auctions that sold during the lockdown, but obviously buying homes sight unseen is not for every vendor or buyer, so a lot of them were delayed.

“The biggest issue, funnily enough, at the moment is getting the photos done. There’s such a huge volume of listings that all agencies are trying to get on market.

“Now everyone is in the same boat and pretty anxious to get their properties online as quickly as possible.”


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