The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted upon almost every industry including real estate.
State and federal governments have introduced necessary restrictions to stop the spread of the virus. But the property market continues to operate, with the safety and health of all persons involved the paramount concern.
Below, we answer your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on what the coronavirus crisis means for sellers, buyers, renters and landlords.
Can I still sell my home?
Yes. Sellers’ agents, buyers agents and the rest of the market have adapted to the new restrictions. Virtual tours of homes, private inspections and online auctions are now the norm. Sellers can still sell via private sale too, as always.
What does the ban on ‘on-site’ auctions or ‘in-room auctions’ mean?
Auctions will continue to be held online. Prospective buyers can continue to register and bid online. Only ‘in-person’ auctions have been suspended due to social distancing rules.
Can I still inspect a home I am interested in?
Yes. Realestate.com.au has launched a new virtual inspection tool which will allow buyers and sellers to remain in business. Buyers can inspect a home virtually and then if they wish to visit a property in person, they can arrange a private visit through the selling agent.
How do virtual or digital inspections work?
Digital inspections allow real estate agents to use videos – either shot professionally or via smart phone walk-throughs – which would be available to renters and buyers via ‘Inspections’ sections of Buy and Rent listings on realestate.com.au.
Will showing my house increase my family’s chances of contracting coronavirus?
The government says as long as all recommended measures, such as social distancing and hygiene, are observed it is safe to proceed with private open home inspections.
What if I can’t make my mortgage repayments?
Most banks are allowing customers to pause their loan repayments for up to six months if they are experiencing financial hardship. Contact your broker to discuss this. You may be eligible for the government’s stimulus package. For free financial advice, contact the National Debt Helpline.
What if I can’t pay my rent?
If you think you might not be able to pay your rent due to financial hardship, you should advise your landlord or rental agency as soon as possible. You can request a delayed payment or a rent reduction. Your state tenants’ union can help to advise you of your rights. You may be eligible for the government’s stimulus package. For free financial advice, contact the National Debt Helpline.
Is there a ban on tenant evictions?
State and territory leaders have agreed to a six-month moratorium on evictions for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress who couldn’t meet their commitments due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Can my landlord terminate my tenancy at all during the COVID-19 crisis?
Under law there are no grounds for a tenancy to be ended due to an outbreak. Your landlord or rental agency can only rely on existing reasons for termination, if they apply. For advice on your individual situation visit the fair trading or consumer affairs website in your state or territory.
How will COVID-19 impact the property market?
Like most industries and situations at the moment the short-term impact is unclear. However most experts expect market conditions to return to their pre-COVID-19 activity once concerns over the virus have passed.
Should I use a buyer’s agent?
A buyer’s agent can act as a “middleman” at a time when house hunting has become more challenging. While buyers can’t attend traditional open homes at the moment, private viewings are still permitted. By engaging a buyer’s agent, purchasers can get a helping hand shortlisting homes, but be aware there is a fee involved (between 1.5 to 2 per cent of the purchase price plus GST, however some charge a flat fee).
Can I still hire a removalist?
The simple answer, is yes. As removalists are considered an essential service (transport and logistics) they are still operating, although most moving companies have changed the way they do business to comply with social distancing measures. Many removals businesses have included coronavirus updates on their websites, with one big change being the “no-contact” move where homeowners are now largely restricted from “helping out” on moving day.
Can I move interstate during this time?
Movement between the states is largely restricted at the moment, but removalists and residents (plus potential residents) can apply for a pass to cross over the border. On arrival, however, most individuals are required to self-isolate for 14 days. Rules are continuing to change almost on a daily basis, so to fully understand what is expected of you check in with your moving company or refer to the official quaratine conditions if you plan on doing it yourself.
Will I be able to have renovations or repairs done?
Hiring tradies to do work around the home is not currently restricted under the Federal and State governments’ COVID-19-related protection measures. Hipages, Australia’s largest online marketplace for tradies has issued up-to-date guidelines to help homeowners continue the business of hiring tradespeople. While their recommendations are helpful, be aware that they are not mandatory so ensure you’re practising safe hygiene and social-distancing.
Can I still hire a tradie?
“The measures announced by the Australian government do not affect the hiring of a tradie,” hipages chief executive Roby Sharon-Zipser said.
“Customers can still post jobs through the hipages platform and tradies can continue to accept job leads. Tradies have not been added to the restricted services list announced by the Government, and it is paramount that tradies remain on the list of essential services during the coronavirus crisis.”
Can I keep building a house that’s already begun?
Yes you can, but the work site environment has changed. The Australian Workers’ Union and Master Builders Australia are calling on governments to keep the building and construction industry open for business, however each company is setting up their own safe work practices. Many builders are continuing existing builds while adopting rigorous distance and safety measures on site. Homeowners, however, should be prepared for possible delays with materials or reduced staff. House and land estates are operating, but can only show display homes by private appointment.
Is it wise to buy a property sight unseen?
It’s not unheard of, but it is extremely rare that buyers purchase property without ever setting foot through the door. Those cases when it has happened, it’s often a cashed up investor who has crunched the numbers, has had professional pest and building inspectors or their financial advisor do a walk-through and they never plan to live at the address. Most real estate experts don’t recommend a homebuyer taking this route, because nothing beats the real thing.