Victoria set for big summer of sales post-lockdown

Positivity is pouring out of Victorian real estate, with agents across the state setting themselves up for a bumper spring selling season that will likely run through most of summer.

Melbourne at sunset
The lights are certainly back on in Melbourne's residential sector, with agents positively bouyant now that the industry has been reopened. Photo: Shutterstock (Image source:

Positivity is pouring out of Victorian real estate, with agents across the state setting themselves up for a bumper spring selling season that will likely run through most of summer.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced at the weekend that private inspections of properties for sale or lease were back on the cards, relaxing restrictions that had virtually put transactions on hold in Australia's second-biggest market. 

The new arrangement is to allow for inspections to be attended by a single agent and one prospective purchaser or tenant, who can be accompanied by one other person from their household or their partner.

Auction activity in August was down 80 per cent on recent yearly averages, while for most of September, there were fewer than 10 auctions per week, in what is generally the peak season for real estate selling.

Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Leah Calnan said the relaxing of restrictions would be an enormous relief to buyers, sellers and renters alike.

“It is encouraging to see that the plight of many Victorians who were unable to make decisions about their own property has been reconsidered by the government,” Ms Calnan said.

“This decision is recognition that the real estate profession can be trusted to conduct inspections in a safe and responsible manner. We have done so previously, and will continue to do so for the benefit of all Victorians.”

Real Estate Institute of Australia president Adrian Kelly also said the Victorian government’s move was an important step forward for the industry.

“Our thoughts have been with the buyers, sellers and agents who have had their lives and livelihoods disrupted as a result of the ban on inspections,” Mr Kelly said.

“The REIA encourages Victorians to get in contact with their agent for property-related enquiries they may have in the wake of this development.

“We look forward to hearing the plans for the industrial and commercial sectors.”

With no ability to perform inspections, many real estate agencies turned to technology to keep their businesses moving during lockdown.

In Narre Warren South, Ray White Berwick sales agent Anne Haynes and director Eric Zhang said they had adopted FaceTime inspections and iPhone photography by the property’s vendor to facilitate a $1.45 million sight unseen sale.

Ms Haynes said the vendor had been keen to sell prior to the stage four restrictions being put in place, but had to scramble for solutions once the strict lockdown was enacted and property styling and photography had not taken place.

“After speaking to our photographer, I rang owners Darren and Sarah, and took them through how to take professional images on their iPhone in order to upload them to property portals," Ms Haynes said.

“Darren also has his own drone, so he sent that up in the air in order to get some impressive images – from that, we were able to attract more than 25 enquiries.

“We weren’t even able to get a floor planner in, but knowing the property so well, I had to go a bit old school and literally draw the floor plan from memory.

“We set up a FaceTime inspection with the buyers, an upsizing family from a neighbouring suburb, and they fell in virtual love with the property.

“The key to all this is taking the negatives and turning them into the positives. We’ve learned so much, and this is actually my third Stage 4 lockdown sale, with a couple of new listings to come.”

Harcourts Victoria chief executive Tony Morrison said the past months of lockdown had been a significant challenge for his staff, with agents and office support staff showing incredible resilience under trying conditions. 

“The most important thing in any organisation is its people,” he said. 

“Because we’ve never been through a pandemic before, you’re never sure how your people are going to react.

"Some may handle it well and others may be a little bit fragile, so we created an online health and wellness program to better support everyone.

"Whether it was a mental health session, training modules or a yoga class, our people really embraced it and shone through like we knew they would.

“Obviously now, with restrictions eased, there is some real excitement around getting back to business and enjoying an incredible spring.” 

And it hasn’t taken long for buyer interest to surface, according to Harcourts Judd White in Glen Waverley director Dexter Prack.

Mr Prack said after a slow start to the season, his agency was preparing for a big few months, with the traditional ‘spring selling season’ likely to extend until Christmas in 2020.

“We’re a bit behind but I do believe the activity is going to be strong. We have 30 properties in the pipeline and launched seven on Monday,” Mr Prack said.

“We’ve already had 35 buyer enquiries and booked 10 private inspections, so yeah I think there is going to be a big rush.

“Buyers have literally been locked up for some time so there is this mentality already that they want to get in now before it gets too crazy. 

“At the moment it’s just a big relief, my team has never been more excited.

“Having said that though, I do think our Christmas is going to be at Easter this year as December and January could be some of the biggest months we’ve seen in a long time.”

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