NSW government lifts bans on on-site auctions and open home inspections

By Samantha Thorne

From next weekend, New South Wales real estate agents will be able to move back to conducting traditional open-for-inspections and on-site auctions after they were banned six weeks ago to slow the spread of Covid-19. 

NSW Treasurer Dominic said that the industry had been "adaptable to transitioning" to virtual inspections and online auctions. 

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According to NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, while the community has done an outstanding job in helping to flatten the curve, it's still important that Australians continue to socially distance. 

"Real estate agents should limit the number of people viewing a property and attending an auction, follow stringent cleaning and safety guidelines, ensure clients do not touch surfaces and always have hand sanitiser," he said. 

The Real Estate Institute of NSW CEO Tim McKibbin said,"The property industry is fully cognisant of its obligations to ensure social distancing, the use of sanitising procedures and the like to protect the community."

"Accordingly, the property services industry acknowledges and embraces its obligation to follow the procedures and processes prescribed by Government to protect the community," he said. 

Since the ban on auctions and open-for-inspections were announced, industry experts and economists had warned that the longer these restrictions remained, the longer the economy would suffer.

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"Now that systems have been developed and deployed to protect the community, the Government has clearly turned its attention to slowly reigniting the economy. The property industry as the single biggest industry in NSW is the logical place to start," said Mr McKibbin.

According to Mr Perrottet, "Choosing a home is one of the biggest decisions anybody makes and easing the restrictions to ensure people can more easily inspect, buy or rent a property is an important step for NSW."

"The real estate industry has been adaptable in transitioning to online auctions, property inspections by appointment or online, and now as we make the move back to a more normal mode of operation we must ensure safety measures such as social distancing remain a key part of the process."

Mr Perrottet has urged for a common-sense approach across the industry.

"If we want to keep as many people in jobs as possible and businesses in business it is important to follow the safety advice and not put others at risk," Mr Perrottet said.

"If people are not genuinely in the market for a new home, now is not the time to be having a look through their neighbour’s house."

The latest key health guidelines for real estate include:

  • Ensure physical distancing of greater than 1.5m is maintained;
  • Promote good hygiene on premises and at auctions including hand sanitiser;
  • Use digital platforms where possible to discourage physical contact;
  • Keep detailed contact records of people attending open homes and auctions;
  • Ensure people with any symptoms of illness do not attend a property;
  • Manage the number of people entering small spaces;
  • Consider extended times for open house viewings and inspections;
  • Use outdoor venues for auctions wherever possible;
  • If auctions are held indoors, use large venues where physical distancing between household groups of one person per four square metres is possible.

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