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Coronavirus and selling a property: frequently asked questions

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Samantha is a Sydney-based real estate and home improvement writer. She is currently Head of Marketing at OpenAgent.

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In just a couple of weeks, Covid-19 has drastically changed the way Australians buy and sell property.  This has been incredibly unsettling for many, and we recognise that during this time there is a greater need for support and service to help you navigate your property journey with certainty.

If just a few weeks ago you were looking to put your home on the market, we understand that you may have had a change of mind. If you still need to sell, we’ve had plenty of questions from our community, so we’ve pulled together some information and answers to the most common questions to help you navigate the process.

Can I still sell my home?

Yes, if you want to take your property to market, you still can. Agents have been quickly adapting their processes in order to allow sellers and buyers to transact in the current climate. From virtual inspections and online auctions, the majority of the selling process can be done digitally. For more information, check out this guide to selling your home during the Covid-19 crisis.

Should I sell now or wait for a better time?

Whether you choose to sell depends on the urgency of your own personal circumstances. While it’s a time of uncertainty for many, it’s important to remember that Australia does not have “one” housing market, so different regions will react in different ways. If you are on the fence about selling, we 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.

Can agents still do open inspections?

Yes. While mass open to the public property inspections have been banned by the government, buyers can still schedule in private inspections with a real estate agent if they’re interested in seeing a property. 

A note on private inspections: New regulations state that a person must not participate in a public gathering of more than two people. Therefore, an agent standing in the street with a couple would not be acceptable as the agent doesn't live with the couple and they are not from the same household. A person's property is not a public place, so our understanding is that it is okay for an agent to attend a seller's home. 

The two person rule is important in the context of home inspections. Our understanding is that a single person can view a property, but a couple could not, so the agent would need to show the property to each individual separately. 

How do virtual tours  and digital inspections work?

Agents have been quick to adapt to the current climate and are hosting virtual tours in a variety of ways. They’re using platforms like Skype and Zoom for virtual open home appointments,  and social media streaming technology like Facebook Live to show properties, and engage with prospective buyers in real time. The way agents market a property has changed too, with interactive 3D tours being added to online listings. Read this guide about virtual tours to get more detail.

How does an online auction work?

An online auction operates under the same rules as a public auction. Buyers are given a link and instructions by an agent and can register ahead of time. When the auction begins, prospective buyers can watch via video and place bids as if they were there in person.

Another option involves buyers sending off bids, similar to the way eBay works, and the time allotted for the auction is extended by five minutes every time a bid is entered. For those who aren’t tech-savvy, there is also the option of registering to bid via telephone. Find out more about online or remote auctions.

Is the value of my property going to be affected by Covid-19?

With new developments happening everyday, it’s hard to predict what might happen to the property market. However, there are a few different scenarios that could play out. To find out more about the economic impacts of Covid-19 and how it could affect the property market, read this article.

Can I still hire a removalist?

Right now, yes, as removalists are considered an essential service. Many removalists are operating on a no-contact basis, which means they are requesting that you vacate the premises while they move items in and out of your home. 

Can I still hire tradespeople and contractors to do renovations and odd jobs around my home?

If you have home improvements or odd jobs that you'd really like to get on with, you are still able to engage tradies, handymen and cleaners to do work on your property and you can still make trips to places like Bunnings for paint, cleaning products, plants as these can be classified as essential supplie.

When you’re dealing with tradies, cleaners and other contractors, make sure you 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.