Real estate and COVID-19 in Victoria: FAQs

By Emily Ng

If you’re watching the market as a potential buyer or seller, or someone currently in the process, here’s what to expect from the introduction of new restrictions in Victoria. 

Can I still sell my house in Victoria? 

Yes, this is still possible in both regional and metropolitan areas of Victoria.

Regional Victoria:

If you are selling a home in regional Victoria, Stage 3 restrictions still allow for one-on-one inspections. Selling in this environment is more manageable, as real estate agents, sellers and buyers are accustomed to these sorts of arrangements and more or less view it as 'the new normal.' Auctions will need to take place online. 

Metro Melbourne:

As it stands, in Metropolitan Melbourne, the selling process can be facilitated online via virtual inspections and online auctions only.

If you are in the process of settling a home this can continue, but any face-to-face inspections in metropolitan Melbourne will no longer be allowed. 

According to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, the Premier’s announcements regarding Melbourne Metro refers to the ANZSIC classification. This means that the State of Disaster covers all the following:

  • 67200 Real Estate Services
  • 67200 Broking service - real estate
  • 67200 Real estate accounts collection service
  • 67200 Real estate agency service
  • 67200 Real estate agent
  • 67200 Real estate auctioning service (including electronic)
  • 67200 Real estate body corporate management service
  • 67200 Real estate broking service
  • 67200 Real estate management service
  • 67200 Real estate rental agency service
  • 67200 Real estate stocktaking service
  • 67200 Real estate valuing service
  • 67200 Renting or leasing of non-residential real estate (except as owner or leaseholder)
  • 67200 Renting or leasing of residential real estate (except as owner or leaseholder)
  • 67200 Valuing service - real estate

Helpful resources:

Updates will be provided as we get more clarity. 

Do real estate agencies also have to close?

Melbourne real estate operators and real estate services are required to close on-site from 11:59pm on Wednesday. However, since the first wave, agents are attuned to what’s required in order to work remotely, so if you need to contact an agency or agent, you will still be able to reach out as normal over the phone or via email. 

Should I sell now or wait? 

Whether you choose to sell depends on the urgency of your own personal circumstances. For now regional Victoria is still conducting one-on-one inspections, so the selling process is less impacted than in Metropolitan Melbourne. 

Sellers will no doubt face some challenges with selling and buying property in Metropolitan Melbourne during Stage 4 lockdown. During the last lockdown, restrictions on real estate services were eased slightly within a week, so some agents are expecting that this may happen again should case numbers start trending south. 

If you are on the fence, before making any decisions, we would recommend talking to a local agent about your options. 

We’ve also created this helpful article outlining the pros and cons of selling in the current climate. 

Sanitary precautions - what do you need to do as a seller or buyer?

Since Sunday 2 August, all Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home, no matter where they live. This means that buyers must wear face coverings when attending a private one-on-one inspection in regional Victoria.

If you do attend a private one-on-one inspection, you need to leave your contact details with the agent who meets you for potential contact tracing purposes. As always, physical distancing of at least 1.5metres should be observed. If you are feeling unwell, stay at home and get tested.  

There are some exceptions to this rule. Find out more on the Victoria State Government Health and Human Services website

Strict social distancing rules continue to apply - including staying 1.5m away from the agents and waving instead of shaking hands. Using hand sanitiser and washing hands regularly are also strongly advised. 

If I live in metropolitan Melbourne, can I travel to regional Victoria to inspect a property?

At the moment, our understanding of the new restrictions is that metropolitan Melbournians cannot travel outside of the 5km radius. We will provide more detailed information as it comes to light. 

I need to have my home professionally valued, can a valuer come to my property for this purpose?

At the moment, professional valuations in-person are prohibited in metropolitan Melbourne. Some homeowners have had their homes valued remotely via video calls. If you are comfortable with this, you may go ahead, but otherwise it may be a better idea to wait until restrictions have eased. 

Are conveyancing services still open?

Many conveyancing companies are still operating remotely.

 

 
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What restrictions have been imposed on businesses as part of Stage 4 measures?

From 11:59pm on Wednesday, most businesses in Metropolitan Melbourne have been forced to close or significantly alter their operations. 

Businesses have been placed into three categories:

  1. Operating as normal
  2. Operating without face-to-face interaction
  3. Closed

The majority of retail businesses fall into the second category, as such, any bricks and mortar stores will need to close. 

Businesses that will definitely be closing include: hairdressing; professional; administrative; financial and office services; call centres; property and real estate. 

Are hardware stores like Bunnings open?

Bunnings and other hardware stores will only be open to tradespeople, and not the general public. However, if you need to access goods from Bunnings delivery services and ‘click and collect’ options are available for you to collect your items. If you are accessing goods from another hardware store, call them and find out if ‘click and collect’ or delivery is an option. 

What retail services are still open for operation?

  • Supermarkets
  • Grocery stores
  • Bottle shops
  • Pharmacies
  • Petrol stations
  • Banks
  • Newsagencies
  • Post offices

I need to renovate or repair my home - are tradies still allowed on-site?

Tradies will only be able to come to your home in an emergency. For example, if a pipe has burst then it is ok to have a plumber come in and fix it. However, activities deemed unnecessary, such as getting your house painted or having a hedge trimmed by a gardener are not permitted during this time. 

If a handyman or tradesperson does come to your property, make sure to strictly abide by social distancing rules. That means re-scheduling work if either of you are feeling unwell; waving instead of shaking hands; staying 1.5m away from each other at all times; offering hand sanitiser before, during and after the completion of a job; washing hands regularly; and wiping down surfaces with disinfectant regularly. 

When am I allowed to leave the house?

From Sunday the 2nd of August at 6pm, the 8pm to 5am curfew takes effect, where people are only allowed to leave their homes for work and essential health, care or safety reasons. 

Outside of these hours, you may only leave your house for one of the following four reasons:

  1. To purchase food and necessary supplies (within a 5km radius, and only one person from your household can leave for essential goods, and only once per day)
  2. Exercise outside is limited to one hour per day and within a 5km radius of your home.
  3. For care and health care, including accompanying someone for essential medical care if you are a carer, guardian or necessary support person. The 5km limit does not apply to care or caregiving. 
  4. Work. Study must be done remotely. The 5km limit does not apply to work. 
 
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What does Stage 4 mean for metropolitan Melbourne?

From August the 2nd, new Stage 4 lockdown measures have been introduced in Melbourne, with residents no longer able to travel more than 5km from home. A curfew has also been enforced from 8pm to 5am. Only one person from each household is allowed to leave the home to access goods and services. 

Are there exceptions to leaving your home during curfew hours?

You may leave your home between 8pm and 5am for reasons including work, and essential health, care or safety reasons. You may also leave your home in an emergency.

I live in metropolitan Melbourne and am meant to move house next week. Can I still move?

Yes. You are still able to move house, but the curfew hours still apply. You should also take extra steps to stay safe including wearing a face covering.

Removalists are currently classed as an essential service under freight and logistics definitions by each State Government. Under the new Stage 4 orders, section 10 of the Victorian Government's Health Directions state that individuals are allowed to move to their new permanent residence locally, interstate or internationally where their current residence is no longer available locally - which means you've sold, or your lease has ended.

Obviously if you are moving interstate, you must have the relevant border passes to do so. 

If you still want that extra confidence that you're not doing anything illegal we would recommend you speak to your local council, local police station and removalist company in order to be sure of the rules that need to be followed. Note down who you spoke to and when, and keep those documents handy. 

I have already sold and have to move soon. I live alone. Can my family or friend help me to move house? I can't afford to pay a removalist for all of it.

If you live in Melbourne, you can still move house if it has already been planned under Stage 4 restrictions. But, according to Premier Andrews, curfew hours still apply.

Unfortunately only members of the same household can help a person move house. However, you may be eligible for an exemption. 

“Friends or family who are not part of your household can only help with moving if you and those you live with are physically unable to - because of age health or disability reasons,” Andrews said.

If you plan to apply for an exemption, please contact the Department of Heath and Human Services Covid-19 hotline on 1800 675 398 to find out what you need to do.

 

I live in metropolitan Melbourne – can I travel?

If you live in metropolitan Melbourne you should be staying at home. From 6pm on Sunday 2 August, you must stay at home and you will not be able to travel more than 5km from you home, unless it is for work, medical care or caregiving.

My tenants are vacating during Vic Stage 4 restrictions, as I am the landlord/property owner I need to conduct a final inspection before their bond is handed back to them. Can I do this?

We've reached out to both Consumer Affairs Victoria and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services to get clarity around this.  We will update this as soon as we hear back. 

During this time what impact is Covid having on planning and building approvals with all local metro authorities?

We have reached out to the Victorian Building Authority to find out more information. 

What’s different about Stage 3 in regional Victoria?

The biggest difference is that there’s no curfew in regional Victoria. But, from 11:59pm on Wednesday, regional Victorians (including those in the Mitchell Shire) will again only be allowed out for four reasons: shopping for food and essential items, care and caregiving, daily exercise and work and study (if you can’t do it from home). 

You may no longer have visitors to your home or visit other people in their homes. 

Businesses will also return to stage three restrictions, meaning restaurants and cafes can only offer delivery and takeaway, while beauty, personal services and entertainment venues will unfortunately have to shut their doors.

Schools will also revert to remote and flexible learning.

Helpful resources:

 

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