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Melbourne stage four restrictions prompt sight-unseen sales

By Ben Jusufi

Melburnians are buying homes they’ve never set foot in amid the stage four lockdown.

With physical inspections banned under the city’s tough COVID-19 restrictions, a family spent more than $1.825m on a Balwyn North house after viewing it only via the marketing photos and a video filmed by the vendors.

Jellis Craig Hawthorn agent Nick O’Halloran said he finalised the off-market sale of 37 The Boulevard for an undisclosed price while at the Epworth Freemasons hospital, where his wife had just had a baby.

Selling agent Nick O’Halloran finalised the Balwyn North sale from a maternity ward.

The Balwyn North home sold to a local family.

“It was a big 24 hours,” Mr O’Halloran said.

“We listed the property earlier in the year, and had photos and a floorplan done. But the vendors were reluctant to actually put it on the market.

“We were going to load it on the internet coming out of the restrictions.”

Instead, a buyer who had sold their home and was “looking for this type of property” emerged and the deal was done a few days later, Mr O’Halloran said.

“They got a good enough feel of the house from the photos, the video and the floorplan,” he said.

“Vendors who have been coming to market (during the pandemic) are normally rewarded, if they meet the market. It’s not the sort of market where you want to search for an inflated price.”

A first-home buyer was so taken by 1/33 Grice Crescent, Essendon she bought it sight-unseen.

The villa unit featured a charming courtyard.

In Essendon, a first-home buyer snapped up a two-bedroom villa unit at 1/33 Grice Crescent sight-unseen for $670,000.

Brad Teal Essendon agent Lara Harris said the home had been on the market for three weeks before the stage four lockdown with “no traction”. Then the Greenvale-based buyer called, having been drawn in by the public transport-rich location.

“I took a video prior to lockdown, just on my iPhone, so the buyer could get more of a feel for it,” Ms Harris said.

“She put in an offer … without seeing it — she’d driven past it but never set foot in the property. The contracts were signed electronically.

“One week into lockdown, I had the deal done within a couple of hours as I was sitting on the couch.”

Inside 1/33 Grice Crescent.

Ms Harris said the vendor agreed to a “realistic” sale price, and the buyer planned to move in once restrictions eased.

The agent said she “couldn’t wait” for spring, with so many listings “waiting to drop” once stage four was over.

Melbourne buyers also secured a 4.86ha rural retreat in Eganstown, west of Daylesford, for an undisclosed figure close to the $1.395m asking price this week.

Belle Daylesford director Will Walton said the purchasers had a friend who lived in the region who advised them on the local market and contacted his office on their behalf.

Melbourne buyers have snapped up 51 Corinella Creek Lane, Eganstown.

The Eganstown retreat sprawled across 4.86ha.

They later bought the picturesque property at 51 Corinella Creek Lane, featuring a four-bedroom house and a separate cottage, without a physical inspection, feeling “confident from knowing the quality of the location and seeing the photos on the internet”.

Mr Walton said his agency sold a “personal best” 30 properties in July as the pandemic prompted Melbourne buyers to up their already significant presence in the Daylesford region.

But the stage four restrictions had killed this momentum by preventing Melburnians from travelling to regional Victoria to inspect homes.

“We’re expecting an enormous surge after the lockdown is lifted,” he said.

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