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Melbourne’s property market begins to awaken from a weeks-long slumber

By Ben Jusufi

Agents across Melbourne are expecting a massive short-term boost to the local property market with home inspections booked solid on Monday after the ban on inspections was eased.

Many were taking calls as early as Sunday afternoon when Premier Daniel Andrews eased restrictions to allow one-on-one property inspections, which had been banned for the past seven weeks under stage four restrictions.

Within minutes of the announcement, some agents were receiving calls from buyers and vendors – some stuck in limbo, looking to move on.

“We were absolutely inundated,” Ray White Forest Hill director and auctioneer Hugh Francis said. Within three hours of the Premier’s press conference, Mr Francis and the nine agents he works with had 88 bookings for inspections across inner and middle-ring suburbs.

On Monday afternoon, inspections of a three-bedroom villa at 46a Park Road, Glen Iris were booked solid.

The sellers had listed the property two weeks ago, keen to move to Moama to be closer to their family. An auction is scheduled for September 30.

“I’m hoping that the quick rush – rush of momentum – will get some quick sales for our vendors,” Mr Francis said.

While it was good news for people trying to sell, for those who already had sold a home and were looking to buy again the news was an enormous relief.  Some were facing a grim future without being able to inspect a property.

“We have had people who have pending settlements in the next month or so in a scramble to get a new property to match up the dates,” Mr Francis said.

Barry Plant chief executive Mike McCarthy said agents had reported huge numbers of bookings for inspections, with 890 alone on Monday across the agency’s offices.

Of those, 200 were in the Manningham area including Doncaster and Doncaster East.

“It’s been a very busy day,” Mr McCarthy said.

He was expecting a short-term market boost, but said he was concerned the new rules did not allow for agents to travel to undertake appraisals for people looking to sell their home.

This was the missing piece of the puzzle, Mr McCarthy said.

“Without appraisals, you can’t get new homes on the market and that’s not helping the supply,” he said.

Most agents Domain spoke to had been booked solid for private appointments as the new restrictions came into effect.

Under the new rules announced on Sunday, people and partners and/or children can inspect a home for sale or rent within a 15 minute timeslot.

The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed on Monday that property photographers would be able to take snaps of homes for sale or rent for marketing campaigns and that Melbourne buyers and tenants would be able to travel further than five kilometres from their home to inspect a property.

Melbourne buyers are not permitted to travel to regional areas to look for property under the new rules.

Regional Victoria’s property market has been far more open for local buyers, with public auctions and inspections allowed to go ahead with some restriction to numbers in place.

But Melbourne’s restrictions have meant much lower numbers have been searching for property in regional cities with those who have using unusual methods to buy.

“From what we’ve seen, a really strange by-product has been that we’ve had a lot of people from Melbourne moving here to rent so they can then buy a property,” Ms Nicol said. “Some are just moving here because they can take it [lockdown] any more and others are moving here to get into a safer environment.”

In Geelong, buyers from Melbourne were making offers sight-unseen, either sending family who lived locally to check out a property or a buyer’s advocate.

McGrath Geelong principal David Cortous said the market had remained “surprisingly buoyant” despite the lack of Melbourne buyers.

“Once upon a time people moved to Geelong for affordability, but now it’s about the lifestyle,” Mr Cortous said. “That’s been a big change.”


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