Changes to Canberra’s COVID-19 restrictions mean that for the first time in weeks, buyers in a red-hot real estate market may be able to inspect properties in person from this weekend.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced the move today among a number of small lockdown changes for business. The logistics aren’t clear yet, but Canberra’s real estate agents have welcomed the announcement that limited private real estate inspections are now permitted.
Previously, agents had been restricted to virtual walkthroughs and extensive images that satisfied some buyers but left others uncertain about whether they should proceed with a major investment.
But from 11:59 pm on Friday night (17 September), real estate agents will be allowed to conduct in-person inspections by private appointment, although only household members will be permitted to attend an appointment with one agent. All parties must wear a mask and check-in.
Agents must also keep a copy of a calendar of scheduled inspections for compliance requirements.
Home.by Holly principal Holly Komorowski said the industry was awaiting advice about how the changes would be rolled out and what the guidelines would be for safe practice, but added that the move would significantly boost buyer confidence.
“I think it will definitely boost confidence for buyers,” she told Region Media.
“Lots of people are really keen to purchase and move forward in this environment, but there’s been real hesitation for some in not being able to look inside and get a feel for the property.
“We’ve done everything we can with information, virtual walkthroughs and the like, but some people really want to have look in person at a property they might pay $1 million for.
“This will enable us to give them that opportunity, even under restrictions, so that people who are really serious but have been hanging back can make their best offer.”
Ms Komorowski said that some buyers who were looking for investments were happy to buy sight unseen, but people buying family homes for the future were more hesitant.
“This is a really positive outcome for the local industry,” she said.
There had been calls from the industry to bring local regulations into line with NSW where one-on-one inspections are permitted. The Real Estate Institute of the ACT submitted a risk management assessment to Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman last week and expects a briefing this afternoon (14 September) on how the new guidelines will operate.
In other industry changes announced today, residential landlords providing rent relief will be eligible for a credit on their residential land tax of up to $100 per week to share the cost of passing rent relief on to tenants until 31 December. The measure is expected to cost around $2.2 million.
The ACT Government will also waive rent payments until the end of 2021 for any business and community sector tenants of government-owned properties that have been significantly affected by the COVID-19 lockdown.
The previously announced land tax and commercial rates relief for landlords who provide rent relief to their tenants will also be extended through to 31 December.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said at today’s COVID briefing that commercial landlords who offer rent relief may also be eligible for a commercial rates credit of up to $10,000 (increased from $5,000) at an estimated total cost of $5.5 million to the ACT Government.
Further information can be found here for landlords and tenants.