COVID-19: Real estate industry to make big changes to open home and auction process

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Buying and selling a home is set to become very different. Picture: Gaye Gerard/ Sunday Telegraph.

Buying and selling a property in Australia is set to change for the foreseeable future under new measures put in place to battle COVID-19.

The Real Estate Institute of Australia is calling on real estate agents to make “significant” changes to how they conduct public auctions and open homes.

The industry body’s president, Adrian Kelly, said past practice with open homes and public auctions needed to cease immediately.

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“To arrange unmodified public open homes and auctions is clearly irresponsible,” he said.

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Auctioneer Tara Kelly preparing for an online auction. Picture: Annette Dew.

Mr Kelly said one-on-one private inspections will become the norm, while public auctions cannot happen in their current form.

“Auctions can still occur via telephone bidding or online bidding,” he said.

The changes come as the global pandemic has seen clearances rates tumble by more than 10 per cent in the past week as buyers and sellers appear on edge.

Sydney real estate agent, Simone Azzi of Belle Property Annandale, is planning to minimise the risk of infection by cancelling auctions and instead sell via private treaty.

“Now is the time to go back to basics and sell via private negotiations as it will give sellers more security and safety during these times,” she said.

Ms Azzi is also putting extra measures in place at open homes by only allowing qualified buyers who have their finances in order and have looked online to attend in person.

“We also have gloves, face masks and are pre-opening doors and cupboards to limit contamination,” she said.

The Ray White Group has introduced social distancing policies, a “no touch” policy and is making hand sanitiser available, while the agency is also encouraging buyers to undertake the first inspection remotely through Facebook Live or FaceTime.

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The Real Estate Institute of Australia president Adrian Kelly

Ray White Group Managing Director Dan White said public auctions will be replaced with private events this weekend where only registered bidders can attend, and from next week will be conducted remotely.

“All registrations and bidding will be done online or over the phone,” he said.

The changes come as CoreLogic reports home values across Sydney increase 0.3 per cent over the past week.

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