Coronavirus: Melbourne public auction ban returns for six weeks

Auctions won’t return to Melbourne for at least six weeks. Picture: Andrew Henshaw


Face-to-face auctions and open for inspections have been banned once again across metropolitan Melbourne.

In a blow to the real estate industry, on-site sales will have to be scrapped across the city from midnight on Wednesday, July 8, as the state government attempts to bring rising coronavirus rates under control.

Remote auctions and inspections by appointment will be allowed to continue.

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The restrictions, which also apply to Mitchell Shire north of Melbourne will be in place for six weeks.

They come after Victoria experienced its worst day since the pandemic began, recording 191 further cases.

Public auctions and open homes had already been outlawed in 12 coronavirus hotspot postcodes as of last week.

Against the odds, those markets showed resilience with the online auction of 2/30A McLean St, Brunswick West, selling at a $55,000 premium.

A stately home at 43 Kent St, Ascot Vale, sold in one of the week’s largest residential sales, fetching $3.1 million shortly after passing in.

Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Leah Calnan confirmed face-to-face auction and open for inspections would be banned in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire.

But she said laws were “a little bit more complicated” in regional Victoria, where on-site auctions and inspections were still allowed with up to 20 registered buyers.

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Premier Daniel Andrews announced new restrictions, effective from midnight, July 8. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images


“Regional agents will need to monitor the principle place of residence for those attending open for inspections and auctions, and they can effectively refuse to assist those coming from the (lockdown) areas,” Ms Calnan said.

The REIV was still working out finer details about whether Melburnians could travel regionally to inspect properties privately.

She said most agents had expected the reintroduction of restrictions and were better prepared to move auctions online than last time.

“Everyone will be looking forward to warmer weather and coming out of these restrictions into what will be a strong spring market,” she said.

Amy Lunardi Property buyer’s agent Amy Lunardi said the real estate industry would continue as it had in the last lockdown period.

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“It’s just going to be back to what we were doing before. People are kind of used to that now,” she said.

“Last time, we were still able to do private inspections. Anyone who was a serious buyer was still out there looking at properties.

“What could change (this time) is you might have vendors hold back on pressing the ‘go’ button.”

Ms Lunardi said stock levels were likely to fall further, protecting Melbourne from significant price drops but giving buyers even less choice.

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Melbourne was the nation’s worst-performing property market in June, according to CoreLogic’s latest Hedonic Home Value Index.

House and unit values fell 1.1 per cent over the month to bring the quarterly decline to 2.3 per cent — still modest figures, given worst-case predictions of a 30 per cent decrease.

Harcourts Judd White director Dexter Prack said his agency in Melbourne’s east would convert online or cancel six auctions scheduled for the July 11 weekend. New restrictions will also affect many of the 18 auctions the agency had booked in August.

“Going back online will impact confidence as more people lose their jobs, which will create a ripple effect we’ll also see in September and October,” Mr Prack said.

“But I suppose we are a lot more prepared this time than last (lockdown), because we have still been doing online auctions, videos and 3D walk-throughs.”

He said agents were feeling a lot of frustration at the latest announcement.

He expected many prospective vendors would put their plans on hold and there would be “a lot more anxiety” among buyers.

— with Jayitri Smiles

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