oc | Monday 25th May

Government changes mind and a limited market can continue

Property Inspections – Important Update

Date: 13 Apr 20

The REIV is pleased to advise that the Consumer Affairs Victoria website  has been updated to reflect what we have always believed to be the correct interpretation of the Stay at Home Directions (No 2) and Restricted Activities Directions (No 3).

NOTE: These Directions will be amended and/or extended today for another fortnight (at least). The REIV will provide any further advice should there be substantial change to either Direction.

The CAV website now states the following:

Inspections for lease and sale

Clause 11(3)(c) of the Stay at Home Direction (SAHD) allows a person to permit another person to enter their place of residence if it is necessary for the second person to enter the premises for the purpose of their work. Therefore, a person may permit an estate agent to enter the person’s place of residence to allow the estate agent to undertake their work related to the place of residence.

REIV Note: This enables people, not just estate agents, to enter properties to do their work. It can apply to appraisals, valuations, pest/termite and building inspections and any repair work. 

Clause 11(3)(c) of the SAHD also allows a person to permit another person to enter their place of residence if the second person is entering for the purposes of attending a private inspection of the premises for the purposes of a prospective sale or rental of the property.

REIV Note: This applies to Estate Agents, Agent’s Representatives, Buyer and Vendor advocates, Property Managers and prospective tenants or purchasers.

Inspections of occupied properties

Private inspections of an occupied/tenanted residential property are permitted to be organised. An inspection is only permitted where an estate agent and one other person (the person for whom the inspection is organised by private appointment) are present at the premises.

REIV Note: This means only two people in the property at any given time.

An inspection where an estate agent, the prospective tenant/purchaser and a resident of the premises are all present is not permitted. In this case the resident of the premises will have to leave the premises, and should do so for a reason permitted under the SAHD, namely, to obtain necessary goods or services, for care and other compassionate reasons, to attend work or education or to exercise.

REIV Note: Agents must coordinate the private inspection with the occupier/tenant leaving the premises for a legitimate reason (one of the four listed) – not just to facilitate the inspection.  For example they might go and do some exercise or do their grocery shopping. This is vitally important because they could be fined if they are just wandering around without a legitimate purpose.

Those in isolation or quarantine should not leave their homes.

REIV Note: You also need to ensure that the person doing the inspection is not unwell or have any symptoms of Coronavirus. You should note that you have asked this question and where possible record this in writing to protect yourself.

In order to achieve this outcome for the real estate sector, the REIV has agreed on behalf of Members that should a tenant not want a private inspection to occur in a property they currently occupy, Members will respect their wishes. It is vital that we act with compassion and understanding in these circumstances.

The changes to the RTA will prescribe compensation for inspections of a minimum of $30 or a half-day’s rent (whichever is the greater); tenants may be motivated to allow an inspection if you consider this option ahead of it being prescribed.

Inspections of vacant properties

Private inspections of a vacant residential property are permitted to be organised. An inspection is only permitted where an estate agent and one other person (the person for whom the inspection is organised by private appointment) are present at the premises.

REIV Note: This allows one and one inspections only – maximum of two people in the property.

Inspections of tenanted properties

Inspections by vendors or landlords
A vendor or a landlord wanting to enter a property to inspect it is permitted to do so if they have served a valid notice to enter the premises under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.

Inspections by estate agents
An estate agent is permitted to enter residential premises to exercise lawful duties as part of the exercise of their occupation, including to inspect a property on behalf of a landlord or vendor.
Restrictions on indoor gatherings do not apply to an estate agent entering an indoor space where it is necessary to enter a property in the exercise of their occupation. Accordingly, an estate agent may enter premises to conduct an inspection on behalf of a landlord or vendor irrespective of the number of residents of the property present at the time.

REIV Note: This enables the Estate Agent to do their work and also applies to valuations, settlement inspections, termite and building inspections for sale purposes.

Estate agents, vendors or landlords conducting any inspection should ensure compliance and high levels of hygiene. See the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) information on appropriate cleaning and disinfecting. 

There are clear and simple guidelines found here . Your practical considerations should include:

  • the use of gloves and masks and hand-sanitizer during the conduct of these inspections
  • Close supervision the person doing the inspection
  • Consider opening doors and cabinets for them rather than them doing it themselves. Alternatively, arrive a bit earlier and open the doors ahead of the inspection.
  • Note any area the person doing the inspection touches and clean and disinfect prior to leaving and before the occupant returns.

More activities may be restricted as the coronavirus (COVID-19) progresses. Estate agents should monitor the DHHS website for up-to-date information.

THIS ARTICLE WRITTEN BELOW ON SATURDAY 11th April AFTER VIC GOVERNMENT HAD SHUT DOWN PRIVATE INSPECTIONS ON MOST HOMES

Yesterday’s morning walk – what a beautiful day!

It’s 6pm Easter Saturday and it’s quiet in high-end real estate.

Why?

  1. It’s Easter and it’s usually like a ghost town in high-end Inner Melbourne real estate anyway
    AND
  2. Late yesterday, the Chief Medical Officer of Victoria issued an edict stopping all private inspections of occupied and tenanted homes.

So it is going to get a whole lot quieter for a while.

Why?

This edict essentially puts into lockdown the real estate buy /sell industry which was in significant decline, in the last fortnight, due to lack of buyer interest anyway.

Whilst the curve was looking good,

it was not unexpected that our health officers would make this decision due to community transmission concerns.

So what are the issues for real estate and for our industry?

What’s happening to real estate in other lock-downs?

Wuhan (11 million people)

New York

The UK

Melbourne

So post-Easter things are going to be even quieter, how can we further work with the Government and those affected with regards to Covid-19?

Here are our first thoughts.

A number of agents have been actively trying to assist exposed (financially and health) clients over the last fortnight – for many in real estate lockdown actions are advanced.

Properties currently on the market

We at James have no active buying campaigns and only 2 active selling campaigns remain. This time 2 months ago we had 14 active buying campaigns and 12 active selling campaigns.

Our advice since February has been to buy, if the right home could be found and to put off a decision on selling unless it was part of a smart buy/sell or you had to.

Our advice today remains basically the same

Buyers

If you have found a home you really, really want, then buy if you have

  1. A clear, in writing, financing commitment from your lender if you need to borrow
  2. Been through all the necessary due diligence processes – legals, pest and building, council, values, price and so on
  3. An agreement of what each party will do, in the event you the buyer can’t take possession (eg no removalists, travel bans etc)

Covid-19 Buyer don’ts

  1. Narrow your choice and buy the wrong home.
  2. Pay too much against no one
  3. Put your health at unnecessary risk

Additional Advice: You can now only arrange inspections for unoccupied homes or blocks of land. The vast majority of homes that are occupied CANNOT be viewed.

Sellers

Our advice has been and remains the same. This is not a time to be on the market unless it is part of a smart buy/sell (eg upgrading) or if you feel compelled to.

In addition, if you are on the market we have suggested that you consider alternative accommodation for the duration of the campaign, due to the associated health risks – that is now a government directive.

Additional Advice:

  1. Move out for the duration of the campaign (if regulations still allow) and properly clean and leave a suitable lag time prior to returning.
  2. Arrange room by room videos
  3. Carefully choose your agent – one who has experience in these types of sales (very few, but some do)
  4. Have contracts ready for digital signing
  5. Clear asking price.

Covid-19 Seller don’ts

  1. Race to the bottom
  2. Stop-Start – wrong agent managing
  3. Put your health at unnecessary risk

Big shout out to Leaf Organics in Elwood, security guard at door, clear signs, spray-on hand sanitizer, clear arrows, cough screens for staff.

Our wider real estate community

How can we help?

Accept and support our leaders as they are doing a first-rate job. We at James Buy Sell tend to listen to people who have a track record in achieving good outcomes.

And when we look at the TV, our Australian health professionals and politicians (all sides) seem to be the luckiest or at the top of their game on the world scoreboard. We think it’s the latter, but either way, they have our full support.

So how can we as an industry work together to deal with the issues that will arise from what effectively is a shut-down – as almost all houses and many /townhouses are occupied or tenanted?

Manageable circumstances – simple gentleman/gentlewoman agreements

Example One: When buying 8 Hastings two weeks ago – we at James Buy Sell with the help of Chris Daly of Jellis Craig arranged for the tenant in the property we bought, to talk to our buyer who was tenanting another home and they have come to an agreement on what to do at settlement, should one not able to find a home.

Example Two: When buying 60 Beacon Vista – we at James Buy Sell with the help of David Lack of Biggin and Scott arranged for our client to bring forward all the normal changeover actions before settlement. To date, it’s working out fine.

Abnormal circumstances 

There are many statements by members of our industry with regards to things like domestic violence and mental health.

This is incredibly heartening – so what can we do?

With the proper advice could we as a real estate industry set up a registry of unoccupied homes/motel rooms/ unsold apartments that could be used under government protections (insurance) as temporary accommodation where there are issues with

  1. Sellers who have to settle but have not got a home
  2. Buyers who have to settle but cannot get into their home
  3. Sellers who need to sell but cannot be in their home.
  4. Domestic violence prior to moving to another home

1800 015 188

As we are in extraordinary times with some good faith between all agents and solicitors can we as an industry help accommodate these people in temporary need?

Tenants and Landlords

Contact your Real Estate Agent – many are really trying to help tenants and landlords

Here is an example from Marshall White Property Management

And please, let’s be nice – we all have to get through this.

Agents

To date, many other industries have been even harder hit than ours.

At least we have had a 2-3 week buffer to finish off campaigns and get ready for this.

We are here to help if you need to talk.

  • Your health and can we say your family’s health (from your work, not going out as much) is important
  • Cashflow (cutting expenditure) is important
  • Connection and belief in the future are important

Jobkeeper

Moneysmart

If you or anyone you know have any mental health concerns

Lifeline 13 11 14

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

Next steps

Timeframes are not clear – things may change sooner rather than later but let’s leave that up the government to let us know.

As sure as night follows day, they are aware of the importance of our industry with regards to business activity, shelter and the tax revenue we facilitate – so we at James Buy Sell don’t feel we will be forgotten.

Mal’s phone number is 0408 107 988 or Gina’s is 0457 835 255 and we are happy to talk or listen.

You can get through this if you stay healthy – mentally and physically.

For the latest Covid-19 guidelines on how we buy and sell real estate.

From James Marketnews article two weeks ago

We are a big believer in the future of Inner Melbourne real estate and we can’t show this any more than by our commitment to remain open for discussion – even if we are not open for inspection. If trading halts (we will remain open) and our company will essentially remain as is – no retrenchments.

This is what we have done in the last month;

  • We stopped going to general open for inspections a month ago.
  • We stopped auction reporting a month ago.
  • We went into “lockdown” two weeks ago – except for Mal inspecting properties for purchase, for sale or for settlement.

Yet we still have had our best February ever and a very solid March.

This week, whilst finishing jobs our company has discussed the following;

  • Business as Unusual
  • Share the pain, share the gain
  • Everybody gets to the other side
  1. All staff and principals have agreed to a similar 60% pay cut beginning now.
  2. We have also agreed to 40% of normal hours.
  3. We now have zoom meetings Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 12 noon. Checking in with each other, projects to improve and of course, client management.

All contractors we can no longer use – will receive something to stay connected. All key contractors like IT etc have worked out satisfactory compromises with us. The only contractor not willing to help has been Telstra.

All finance/car/office leases are being or have been renegotiated.

Our intention is to not shed staff but to work through government packages (except Newstart) and to be bigger and brighter on the other side.

Mal’s phone number is 0408 107 988 or Gina’s is 0457 835 255 and we are happy to talk or listen.

At least we haven’t banned chocolate – Have a Happy Easter – saw this in the Gulf News

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