News & Events

April 5th at 4:17am

Auction and open for inspection ban: Melbourne property industry to turn to other methods



Victoria’s auction market has been flipped on its head with auctions and open for inspections outlawed. The industry will now turn to different methods in a bid to continue to get deals done.

Australia’s auction capital has been flipped on its head after the Prime Minister axed auctions and open for inspections in an effort to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

But industry figures are pledging Melbourne’s property market will continue to operate behind closed doors and online.

More than 2700 auctions scheduled across Melbourne for the next three weeks won’t go ahead as normal, leaving agencies to find alternative ways to ink sales.

The Real Estate Institute of Victoria confirmed private inspections of properties for sale and lease were still possible.

But the peak industry body’s president Leah Calnan said Melbourne was now heading towards an unusually quiet winter market.

“We’ll see some adjustments in the amount of sales that are happening,” Ms Calnan said.

“Agents have already started working with technology and online auction platforms and they will need to continue to change their practices.”

While the volume of available housing stock would certainly dip, there would still be new homes coming onto the market.

“Melbourne’s property market has been very strong (over the) past six months,” she said.

“At the end of the day, some vendors will still need to sell, many need to purchase and there will be others looking to rent.”

Auction streaming and online bidding service Gavl reported a 200 per cent increase in traffic over the past fortnight, suggesting digitally savvy Melbourne market participants were already adapting to the new norm.

“Vendors (should note) there is a way to engage and attract buyers while making sure health and safety is a forefront of people’s minds,” Gavl chief executive Joel Smith said.

EYS Auctions managing director Fabian Sanelli said the Melbourne auction market could carry on by shifting entirely online.

The professional auctioneer said he’d already contacted the “hundreds” of agents his company worked with to persuade them to run their upcoming auctions on another digital streaming and bidding service, Auctions Live, or by combining Facebook live streaming and phone bidding.

“We’re shocked it happened this soon, but were pretty prepared for this — we’ve told our agents if we can no longer conduct on-site auctions, we’re going to be reverting to digital auctions,” he said.

“Agents can still run private inspections of properties one at a time. And then on auction day, they can set up a camera at the property as normal or in a boardroom and conduct the auction online or over the phone.”

Mr Sanelli said he’d been inundated with requests from agents for urgent training in running online auctions and planned to run back-to-back sessions today. But he still expected “a lot of cancelled auctions”.

“If you cancel them, vendors are going to be severely disadvantaged,” he said.

“And from a buyer’s perspective, there is no more transparent way to sell a property.

“Melbourne’s always been the auction capital of the world and we want to keep this auction game strong.”

Buyer’s advocate Cate Bakos said it could become “tricky for buyers to navigate” the different types of sale methods still available.

“I think private sale methods will be more likely used than online bidding platforms,” she said.

“Agents, buyers and vendors are all very mindful of the risk that people can get caught out at home with internet connectivity issues.”

She said technology would let people prepare contracts and settle properties without face-to-face contact.

Ray White Group chief executive Dan White said his agencies would continue to sell homes and manage rental properties amid the restrictions.

“Our members will still be able to host virtual property tours, private inspections and online auctions,” he said, noting many other agents were switching to the private sale method.

Ray White, and other major agencies Barry Plant and Woodards, are partnered with another online auction platform, Anywhere Auctions.

The auction ban comes just a day after the state government urged vendors to move their listings to a private sale method.

“Vendors and agents should put social distancing rules in place, as well as seriously consider moving their processes online or to a private sale where possible,” state justice department spokeswoman Michelle Osborne said.

-with Samantha Landy