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Victorian auctions, open for inspections to resume from Wednesday

The real estate industry has welcomed the revival of face-to-face auctions and open for inspections in Victoria, labelling them “sensible” first steps now the coronavirus curve has flattened.

The Victorian Government has announced that from 11.59pm Tuesday, May 12, auctions and inspections will be allowed with attendance limits of 10 people, in addition to the “minimum number of people reasonably required to facilitate” them and a residence’s occupants.

Agents will also be required to keep records of attendees’ names and contact details, to “assist in contact tracing if required”, and enforce social distancing and hygiene practices.

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

Those restrictions have now been lifted in several states, including New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

But Victorian auctions have only been able to be held online, and prospective buyers and tenants only able to inspect properties digitally or one-on-one with agents, for the past six weeks.

Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Leah Calnan labelled the Victorian Government announcement a “good step forward”.

“While agents have been very agile to embrace technology, it will be reassuring to resume face-to-face. Real estate is a face-to-face business,” she said.

Ms Calnan expected the “new norms to come together” in the auction sphere, with many agents to continue using online auction platforms in conjunction with small public gatherings of bidders.

“We won’t be able to have every person who wants to bid or watch the auction be in physical attendance,” she said.

“But (having 10 in attendance) makes it very transparent — people will be able to see who they’re bidding against again.”

Ms Calnan said would-be vendors turned off by COVID-19 restrictions may now reconsider selling, especially in the lead up to the spring selling season, which she now expected to be “relatively strong”.

This had broader benefits given taxes derived from property sales contributed more than 45 per cent of the state’s budget, she said.

The REIV previously stated auction volumes had “fallen significantly” following the Prime Minister’s ban, from the pre-pandemic average of almost 1000 per week to about 100-150 per week.