- Posted By Prince Lakshman
Real estate auctions and open house inspections temporarily grinded to a halt as the national cabinet imposed a tougher new crackdown to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison laid out a list of large social gatherings that will be banned in an effort to minimise the transmission of COVID-19. The announcement included the gathering of people in auction rooms.
This puts the 2000 auctions scheduled around Australia into question for the next two weekends before the usual Easter recess will take place. Some agents had already initiated online auctions before the latest crackdown, but the PM’s announcement might make the transition to online much faster.
Despite the ban, private property inspections can still be carried out.
Included in the restrictions are amusement parks and arcades. On the other hand, shopping centres remain open but personal services shops such as beauty therapists will not, and food courts in shopping centres might just be limited to take out.
As the situation is rapidly evolving, the question on leases will be included by the national cabinet in its next meeting on Wednesday night.
Renters are hoping that the cabinet would consider and announce rent relief for tenants affected by the pandemic and its economic consequence, or land tax exemptions to assist landlords facing a loss of income.
“A lot of progress has been made over the course of today and over the course of this week we’ll be looking to finalise some issues,” Mr Morrison said on the question of rent relief.
“This is obviously a complex issue … the states working with the Treasurer have done some excellent work today.”
He also flagged work being done on energy bills, and highlighted the mortgage relief already on offer from the big banks.
The auction restrictions will be a fundamental change for home buyers and sellers, with a shift to online and phone bidding widely expected.
The measures come as the real estate industry has started quickly to adapt to social distancing measures to protect clients, staff and the public.
A ban on handshakes quickly turned into chairs spaced 1.5 metres apart and careful crowd control for public auctions.
It gathered pace on Tuesday with a push to private auctions and online or phone bidding from some of Australia’s biggest real estate agency networks.