Call for Victoria to follow NSW in easing real estate COVID-19 bans

The REIV wants public auctions to kick off again in Victoria. Picture: Nicki Connolly


Victoria’s peak real estate body has called on the state government to follow New South Wales’ lead and ease bans on public auctions and open for inspections as soon as possible.

Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Leah Calnan said it was time to reinstate Melbourne as the “auction capital of Australia” to “help kickstart the stimulus for our state’s economy”, now the COVID-19 curve had flattened to the point where there were just 117 active cases.

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REIV president Leah Calnan said auctions and open for inspections could “safely operate” as Victoria started to ease coronavirus restrictions.


“Sales and rental opens for inspections and public auctions can safely operate with crowd restrictions, social distancing and other measures,” Ms Calnan said.

“The easing of these restrictions would inspire confidence in our market.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlawed open for inspections, and on-site and in-room auctions in late March to help curb the coronavirus spread.

Those restrictions are set to be lifted in New South Wales and the Northern Territory, while Western Australian open homes can now be attended by up to six people.

There will be limits on the number of attendees allowed at NSW auctions and open for inspections, while physical distancing, hand sanitiser, stringent cleaning of properties and agents keeping records of attendees will be mandatory.

Victorian auctions can still only be held online, and prospective buyers and tenants can only inspect properties digitally or one-on-one with real estate agents.

Ms Calnan said while Victorian agents had adapted well to the digital transition, auction volumes had “fallen significantly” from the pre-pandemic average of almost 1000 per week to about 100-150 per week.

Victorian agents have been limited to running online auctions since late March.


She said the REIV was still regularly recording clearance rates above 70 per cent, showing “there is still a strong demand in the market”.

The organisation labelled property sales “a fundamental element of the Victorian economy”, noting the real estate sector employed thousands and taxes derived from it contributed more than 45 per cent of the state’s budget.

Victorian Government spokeswoman Stephanie Jones told the Herald Sun
earlier this week the state’s political leaders would continue to “follow the advice of the Chief Health Office to determine when it is appropriate and safe for on-site auctions to recommence”.

The REIV previously called for an “all or nothing” approach to reviving auctions, after James Buyer Advocates principal Mal James declared private on-site auctions limited to 10 people should be permitted in Victoria from this weekend.

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