Onsite to online auctions: ACT real estate industry adapts

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Female Bidding on an Online Real Estate Auction
Real estate agents in Canberra and around Australia are swapping open homes for private appointments and onsite auctions for virtual, online auctions.

Thinking of swinging past an open home or an auction this weekend? Think again! New COVID-19 rules, announced by the Prime Minister on Tuesday night (24 March), now prohibit public open homes and onsite or in-room auctions.

Real estate agents will need to adapt to the changing times, swapping open homes for private appointments and onsite auctions for virtual, online auctions. For now, private home inspections are exempt and will be allowed to continue.

Real Estate Insitute of the ACT (REIACT) CEO Michelle Tynan said the industry is well prepared for the changes, with many local agents already adjusting their business models to meet the restrictions.

Ms Tynan said many of REIACT’s members had already made the switch to “virtual tours, live streaming and other online tools to assist both buyers and prospective tenants search for property”.

“This is now an essential service as people still need to have housing options,” she said.

Blackshaw Group managing director Andrew Chamberlain said the new rules are unlikely to affect those people who are seriously interested in buying, as private inspections are still possible.

“The people who are interested in buying a property can call, can inspect; there is no reason why those people should not be able to buy a property,” he said.

“Their experience will be largely as it previously was.”

Auctions, he said, will be a “little more challenging”, with properties to go under the hammer via live stream.  

“For this weekend, we’re doing Facebook live streaming of the event[s]. The auctioneer will be physically at the property … there will be no buyers, no spectators.”

Chamberlain said, at this stage, he is seeing auction registration numbers consistent with “what we would have expected under normal situations; we’re not seeing the deterioration of the prices or the bidder numbers or the participants”.

“In fact, the changes seem to be slowing the number of properties coming onto the market, rather than the number of buyers active in the market. If anything, we’re expecting that perhaps the people who are game enough to list their homes in this environment are going to do pretty well.”

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