Private house inspections to resume from this weekend

By Brittney Levinson

Canberra's real estate industry has welcomed changes to lockdown restrictions that will see private, in-person property inspections return from this weekend.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced lockdown will be extended for another four weeks until Friday October 15, however there will be minor amendments to the public health directions to allow for "increased COVID-safe small business activity".

From 11.59pm on Friday, September 17, buyers will be able to inspect a property in-person by appointment.

Only household members will be permitted to attend an appointment together, along with one real estate agent.

Appointments will be limited to 15 minutes and each property will be capped at two hours of inspections per day, allowing tenants to leave the house in accordance with the ACT's time limit on outdoor exercise and recreation.

Mr Barr said there will be a mid-point review of the business restrictions in two weeks' time.

Real Estate Institute of the ACT (REIACT) chief executive Michelle Tynan said buyers can now make a better informed decision.

"We have a lot of consumers that aren't prepared to buy property sight unseen and this will enable them to be back on a level playing field in terms of being able to inspect properties and to purchase a property with confidence," she said.

Richard Luton of Luton Properties will welcome buyers through the doors again, as in-person inspections resume from this weekend. Picture: Karleen Minney

People attending an inspection must check in and wear a face mask, and there will penalties for real estate businesses who don't comply, said Ms Tynan.

The ACT real estate industry has been calling for private inspections to resume for several weeks, to bring the capital in line with NSW's rules.

Across the border, one-on-one inspections have been allowed to go ahead for months.

Discussions will continue today between REIACT and the government to determine what the new rules mean for buyers wishing to cross the border for a property inspection.

"It's becoming quite a messy sort of area of what's considered essential and what's not, so we just need to get some real clarity about that, obviously being in the middle of of NSW," said Ms Tynan.

The return to private inspections is good news for buyers in the ACT, who for the last four weeks have only been able to view virtual walk-throughs of properties filmed by videographers or, in some cases, the sellers themselves.

Private real estate inspections are set to resume. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Richard Luton of Luton Properties said the changes will make a "huge difference" to buyer and seller confidence.

"It's going to be great for the market [because] at the moment we can't get stock," he said.

"When we shut down last year we did one-on-one inspections with the online auctions and it worked really, really well."

Mr Luton said now the challenge is getting more homes onto the market.

"Our biggest problem is getting stock, we can't go into a house and meet an owner ... they can do a FaceTime and walk us through the house and then we do an online presentation but that has slowed completely down," he said.

Ms Tynan expects to see more properties listed as the new rules come into effect.

"I think there were some vendors that were a little bit reluctant to list due to the fact that they couldn't have one-on-one inspections," she said.

"In terms of consumer protection, this is a really big step in enabling everybody to have access to what's on the market but also to be able to buy without fear or favour because now they can actually go and have a look."

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