COVID-19 real estate questions answered

FAQs on how the COVID-19 pandemic affects the housing market answered by Brendan Casey and Kirsten Craze, interviewed by James MacSmith.

In-person house auctions are banned indefinitely and moved online.

Every major industries have most certainly not been immune to the inevitable impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes have certainly affected the real estate market, leaving a significant sense of uncertainty for future market trends and many unanswered questions for landlords, renters, and other parties involved in the industry.

The health and safety of the masses have been the state and federal governments’ main priority and concern, catalyzing the introduction of numerous necessary laws, regulations and restrictions to contain the virus. Inevitably, the property market continues to operate, only with necessary adjustment put in place to cater to the best interest of everyone’s health and safety.

Below is a list of answered Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to address your questions concerning the COVID-19’s effects on the real estate market and your property as a seller, buyer, renter and/or landlord.

Can I still sell my home?

Yes. Sellers’ agents, buyers agents and the rest of the market have adapted to the new restrictions. Virtual tours of homes, private inspections and online auctions are now the norm. Sellers can still sell via private sale too, as always.

What does the ban on ‘on-site’ auctions or ‘in-room auctions’ mean?

Auctions will continue to be held online. Prospective buyers can continue to register and bid online. Only ‘in-person’ auctions have been suspended due to social distancing rules.

Can I still inspect a home I am interested in?

Yes. Realestate.com.au has launched a new virtual inspection tool which will allow buyers and sellers to remain in business. Buyers can inspect a home virtually and then if they wish to visit a property in person, they can arrange a private visit through the selling agent.

Will showing my house increase my family’s chances of contracting coronavirus?

The government says as long as all recommended measures, such as social distancing and hygiene, are observed it is safe to proceed with private open home inspections.

What if I can’t make my mortgage repayments?

Most banks are allowing customers to pause their loan repayments for up to six months if they are experiencing financial hardship. Contact your broker to discuss this. You may be eligible for the government’s stimulus package. For free financial advice, contact the National Debt Helpline.

What if I can’t pay my rent?

If you think you might not be able to pay your rent due to financial hardship, you should advise your landlord or rental agency as soon as possible. You can request a delayed payment or a rent reduction. Your state tenants’ union can help to advise you of your rights. You may be eligible for the government’s stimulus package. For free financial advice, contact the National Debt Helpline.

Can my landlord terminate my tenancy during the COVID-19 crisis?

Under law there are no grounds for a tenancy to be ended due to an outbreak. Your landlord or rental agency can only rely on existing reasons for termination, if they apply. For advice on your individual situation visit the fair trading or consumer affairs website in your state or territory.
*As of 29/03/2020, a six-month moratorium on rental eviction has been put in place by the government.

How will COVID-19 impact the property market?

Like most industries and situations at the moment the short-term impact is unclear. However most experts expect market conditions to return to their pre-COVID-19 activity once concerns over the virus have passed.

You can access up-to-date information from the federal government on COVID-19 here.

Source: realestate.com.au