INDUSTRY NEWSNEWSVic

We ask experts how Victoria’s latest lockdown will affect the industry

With Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino announcing a snap seven-day lockdown for the entire state from midnight Thursday, how will the real estate industry be affected?

Well for starters, auctions will be restricted to being held online for the next seven days.

The stage-three restrictions were announced in response to a growing number of COVID-19 infections in the Greater Melbourne area.

A further 11 positive cases were detected overnight on Wednesday May 26, bringing the number of active cases in the latest outbreak to 34.

Under stage-three restrictions, no in-person property inspections are allowed, and sellers were being advised to consider moving auctions online or postponing, as the state braced for the strict new rules to come into effect.

‘A WALK IN THE PARK’

Marshall White and Co Director and auctioneer James Tostevin said everyone in the industry had learnt to cope and adapt during extended lockdowns last year.

“So seven days feels like a walk in the park, to be honest,” he told Elite Agent.

“The only real inconvenience is clearly the inability to be able to open properties,” Mr Tostevin added. 

“I guess we’ve had to learn to improvise since COVID first appeared and that’s what we’ll have to do for the next week or so. 

“We just have to work around it as best we can. We haven’t got any vendors panicking, they’re just taking it in their stride and working around it.”

Mr Tostevin said some vendors would be postponing live auctions or shifting to online for the next couple of weeks in order to provide more certainty.

“Properties that were due to be auctioned on June 5, for example, some of those will be pushed back,” he said.

Mr Tostevin admitted online auctions were “not the same”, but he was quick to add that “it doesn’t mean anyone gets paid any less, or a vendor gets any less for their home”. 

“The reality is, that if they’re wanting to bid, they will still bid,” he said. 

“The dynamics are different, and the feel is different because it’s on a screen. You haven’t got the same atmosphere that you would get with an outdoor auction, but just like when it’s raining or there’s inclement weather, that type of auction feels different as well, so it’s just part of what we have to deal with. 

“It’s a small nuisance and an inconvenience at the moment, basically, and I haven’t heard much negativity from people, they’re just pretty realistic about it.”

IT’S ONLY A CIRCUIT-BREAKER FOR NOW

Ben Riddle from Buxton Real Estate Newtown, in Geelong, told Elite Agent he was remaining upbeat about the current seven-day lockdown.

“We’ve experienced the big long one, where you had to actually adapt and change your whole business model to cope with a time frame,” Mr Riddle said. 

But Mr Riddle admitted the sudden announcement had created uncertainty and myriad logistical issues.

“We’re not only thinking about bringing forward this weekend’s auctions (to Thursday), it will also affect next weekend,” he said.

“Then there’s the potential it could actually extend, as well. 

“So you’re sort of thinking about what’s happening 24 hours from now, and two days from now, but you’re also starting to think about what’s happening next week. 

“You really don’t have any confidence that when they say seven days, it will actually be seven days. You just don’t know.”

But Mr Riddle was remaining upbeat, and said if it did result in a slower week of activity, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

“If you want to call it a circuit-breaker, I think that’s maybe what the market needed,” he said. 

“We’ve had 12 months and three weeks of weekend after weekend of just head-scratching results and super-high clearance rates in Geelong. 

“This year has been the highest and fastest five months of growth I’ve seen in 20 years… But I don’t think it will slow the market down much, either.”

Barry Plant’s Head of Strategic Growth Nigel O’Neil told Elite Agent the lockdown was “not ideal for anyone in Victoria, agents included”.

“But we have been through this before (in fact only a few months ago) and as long as it is only a week, the industry will be able to manoeuvre around the snap lockdown and deal with issues remotely as we did last time,” Mr O’Neil said.

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Daniel Johnson

Daniel Johnson was the news editor for Elite Agent. He worked with the company from February 2020 to June 2020. For current stories, news alerts or pitches, please email [email protected]