Aspiring home buyers knocking on doors and leaving letters in ‘desperation’ By Alex Turner-Cohen
Covid-19 has made buying houses a challenge but nowhere more so than in this corner of Australia where people keen on a new home are going to extreme measures.
Aspiring homeowners are so “desperate” this lockdown they are knocking on doors and leaving letters at the properties they wish to purchase.
The phenomenon is only occurring in Victoria, with the state subject to the harshest home inspection restrictions in the state.
“Inspections and auctions for a house or property are closed and can only be conducted remotely,” according to the Victorian government for anyone in metropolitan Melbourne or Greater Shepparton.
Not even a photographer is allowed inside.
Over in NSW – which is recording significantly higher coronavirus cases than Victoria – and the ACT, one person is allowed to inspect the home. Not in Victoria, though.
“If you go into lockdown for a week, the market doesn’t miss a beat,” Ray White Victoria and Tasmania chief executive Stephen Dullens told news.com.au.
“Any more than that, you’re starting to see some real impacts.
“The biggest difference we’ve seen is people knocking on doors, leaving letters for people.
“People have an urgent need, they urgently need to buy or sell or rent a property.”
Mr Dullens pointed to one letter drop that had been shared with him, which he said “really pulls on the heart strings”.
The letter reads: “To the vendors of [redacted] road,
“I am very interested in buying your property but these Covid restrictions are making life extremely hard at the moment.
“I contacted your agent pleading with him to allow me 10 minutes of your time to actually see the home.
“I don’t want virtual tours, virtual auctions.
“I’m 58 years old, just went through some personal family issues, sold my house and settlement is 5th November.
“All I want is a few minutes to have a feel for the property.
“I am a genuine buyer, don’t need finance approval.”
Mr Dullens said the despairing letter wasn’t the first one he’d heard of and wouldn’t be the last if restrictions didn’t change.
He’s also heard of circumstances where someone has knocked on the front door begging to come inside to look at the house.
Currently all he can offer people are virtual inspections done over a video call.
“People just getting desperate at the moment,” he said.
“We’re starting to hear stories of people needing bridging loans, people needing to walk away from their deposit.”
According to the chief realtor, two major factors are fuelling the “desperation”.
Firstly, Mr Dullens said, “People are needing to make really, really major decisions based on virtual inspections. It’s a big call to say ‘I’m going to spend $1 million on a property … while I’m not going to physically look at it.’”
And secondly: “The supply of listings on the market is just shrinking and shrinking.
“Vendors are there thinking ‘Why would I put my property on the market if no-one can look at it?’”
Mr Dullens said it was virtually impossible that people hadn’t given in and let a prospective buyer into their home against Covid-19 rules.
“I’d be very surprised if this hasn’t happened anywhere in Melbourne,” he said.
“It’s technically the wrong thing but I understand it.”
With people “taking matters into their own hands” and letting others into their home, he said it would be more dangerous than if they allowed house inspections under strict public health guidelines in the first place.
“There’s no QR code, nothing,” Mr Dullens said.
“When the agent is there they can ensure it’s a very professional environment.
“It’s a regulated environment versus something being worked out between two unrelated people.”
He is calling on the government to engage with real estate professionals to come up with a compromise.
“This time last year, we were given the opportunity to sit down with government and health department. We came up with a plan for how this could be done safely. My wish is the ability to do that again and work through it with them,” Mr Dullens said.
“The settings just seem extremely difficult.”
The figures are in
The most recent figures from property analysis firm CoreLogic released on Monday supports Mr Dullens’ claims of there being less supply.
In the last week, 430 auctions were held across Melbourne. However, of the 320 results from those auctions, 42.5 per cent were withdrawn.
A final auction clearance rate of 43.8 per cent was recorded for the Victorian capital.
Meanwhile in Sydney, there were 668 auctions held over the last week, compared to 607 over the previous week and 600 over the same week last year.
Last week was the seventh consecutive week where the city had recorded a preliminary auction clearance rate above 80 per cent.
Across the smaller auction markets, the non-locked down city of Adelaide was the best performing this week with an auction clearance rate of 88.1 per cent, followed by Canberra (69.4 per cent despite being in lockdown), Brisbane (68.1 per cent), and Perth (63.6 per cent).
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