Sales by phone, inspections by appointment and, possibly, virtual auctions are the order of the day for the property industry in Townsville as the coronavirus emergency unfolds.
Looking ahead, agents see changes in attitudes favouring regional markets like Townsville.
“We live in paradise. This is a chance for regions to shine,” Ray White agent Julie Mahoney said.
Real estate auctions joined the growing list of “prohibited activities” released by the Federal Government on Tuesday, while open house inspections are to be done by private appointment.
People are being urged to stay at home unless shopping for essentials or travelling to and from work but house sales have still been occurring over the past week.
Ms Mahoney’s agency holds auctions every month and recorded two sales under the hammer and another two sales shortly after last week’s event.
Some form of virtual auction was being considered for future events, Ms Mahoney said.
But she expected challenging times ahead and a slowdown in sales, while the use of technology would become increasingly important.
She said buyers already were taking part in auctions via phone hook-ups.
She was also regularly showing homes to out of town customers by walking through properties and using videotelephony product FaceTime.
“The good thing for vendors is that genuine buyers will come to open houses on private appointment or FaceTime,” Ms Mahoney said.
In the longer term, Ms Mahoney expected changes in attitudes caused by the coronavirus outbreak to favour regional markets.
She said she had already spoken to former Townsville residents living in Sydney wanting to return to the city.
“I think there’s going to be growing awareness about the density of living in these big cities. There’s going to be an economic shift,” Ms Mahoney said.
She said people would look to centres like Townsville, where property values were very attractive compared with metropolitan areas, and where lifestyle was so much better.
She also hoped governments would decentralise services and departments.
“Once we get through this we will be seen as a very, very attractive place to live,” Ms Mahoney said.
The advice from government is that we will be living with coronavirus for at least six months and that social distancing measures are aimed at slowing down its spread and allowing most people to keep their jobs.