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Down but not out


Down but not out

Social distancing is affecting the business of real estate, but the industry can still function – and even innovate – in the face of uncertainty. WORDS: AAP

Real estate is dealing with its uncertain new digital world as the sector becomes one of many industries to feel the bite of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared that public auctions and open home inspections would be among the activities to shut down from midnight on Thursday in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.

“We’re trying to limit the gathering of people in large numbers that can relate to the transmission of that virus,” the Prime Minister told reporters at a conference on Tuesday night.

Executive director of economic research at REA Group Cameron Kusher says there is no evidence to suggest the market will substantially slow down, but it is to be expected.

There would also be opportunity for the industry to evolve, Mr Kusher adds.

“For the broader industry there is an opportunity. Real estate hasn’t shut down,” he says.

Real Estate Institute of Australia president Adrian Kelly says changes need to be made, including a focus on digital tools.“While it is not business as usual …there are still ways of conducting inspections and to auction property,” he says. “Innovative and flexible agents should make better use of technology.”

Private inspections by appointment are still permitted across the country, but customers must advise agents if they have been overseas recently or are feeling unwell.

They also must declare if they have coronavirus or are being tested.

Agents will now be conducting virtual reality inspections and online auctions, with phone transactions and electronic document signatures online becoming more common.

Mr Kusher says while confidence is understandably lacking at the moment, he anticipates the property market will bounce back when coronavirus has started to ease.

“Once confidence returns and people can go back to living their lives, I suspect the housing market will be strong,” Mr Kusher says.

Contact your real estate agent to find out more about how they can assist you.

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