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Private inspections to make a comeback in NZ

With New Zealand set to come out of lockdown after the Anzac Day weekend, real estate agents are preparing for private viewings to recommence

The country will move to Alert Level 3 just before midnight on Monday, April 27, and from next Tuesday, all businesses deemed to be capable of operating “safely” will be permitted to do so.

Minister of Housing Dr Megan Woods confirmed that private viewings, by appointment, of homes for sale or rent can take place under Alert Level 3, with details and limits to be worked through.

It was welcome news for Ray White New Zealand CEO Carey Smith, who said the property market is one of the core foundations of the New Zealand economy, and the ability for purchasers to view a property for sale is critical to the sales and property management process

“While the details and conditions around safe private viewings have not been fully worked out at this stage we are pleased that we are able to help get things moving again, particularly in the area of real estate for buying and selling and renting of property,” Mr Smith said.

“Ministers have realised the importance of the transactional part of real estate and while the first set of guidelines gave us the opportunity to list property, the confirmation of private safe viewing adds a very positive dimension for buyers and particularly those who are looking to rent.

“There are also the associated businesses that rely heavily on property transactions and this will enable those businesses to help bring the New Zealand economy safely back into gear.”

Mr Smith said consumers have been quick to adapt to life in lockdown by engaging with new digital tools and content to help shortlist properties while in isolation, and searches for properties for sale and rent are on the increase.

“We have been receiving a good amount of enquiry from online portals over the past three weeks and this would indicate that there is certainly demand from existing buyers to be able to look through properties that they may have considered prior to the lockdown,” he said.

“Many homeowners have indicated a need to be able to place their properties on the market and for this reason, existing buyers who may have sold their properties and will settle in Level 3 will need to be able to purchase a new property.”

Ray White New Zealand has produced a safe business practice for all of its licensees which enable all customers and clients together with service providers to have a safe environment to be able to have the properties appraised and listed.

“We will appraise, list and settle property in Level 3 and our franchisees will continue to receive enquiry from marketing and in doing so, be able to pre-register potential buyers to have a look (by appointment) through properties,” Mr Smith said.

Level 3 restrictions had been working successfully across Ray White’s Australian network since mid-March. Buyers must pre-qualify their interest via a virtual inspection first and then request a one on one inspection next.

The network is very contact-conscious and there are only ever two people inside a property, all while adhering to the 1.5m social distancing rules.

Homeowners are asked to assist open the windows, all cupboards and doors so there’s no need to touch any surfaces.

Everyone uses hand sanitiser gels and surfaces are wiped down after each inspection, and they are spaced well in time.

Mr Smith said all NZ properties will be appraised using safe business practices by agents and these properties once listed will be marketed to existing buyers and also more broadly to Ray White’s buyer databases who have shown interest in purchasing properties that are coming onto the market.

“We believe that buyers have always undertaken research through various marketing outlets to assess their interest in a property,” he said.

“Ray White has been at the forefront of online live auctions and has also been showing properties privately for long periods of time.

“Both of these, of course, will have further enhanced safe guidelines proposed together with a contactless negotiation and contract stage of the sale.

“While we don’t see that it will change the way people market their properties, we do see further enhancements in regards to virtual walk-through and we also see more photography and videography of property.”

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