It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…for Victorian real estate agents that is, with the Andrews government relaxing restrictions on the inspection of property across the state this week.
Mr Andrews announced on Sunday that private inspections for the purchase or leasing of properties in Victoria could recommence from 11:59pm on the 27th September, essentially giving agents the chance to rescue a spring extraordinarily encumbered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Leading real estate group Harcourts is one of those looking forward to throwing open the doors to some prime real estate in the coming weeks, Victoria CEO Tony Morrison explaining that Harcourts offices and teams had remained incredibly resilient throughout a tough time.
“The most important thing in any organisation is its people,” he said.
“Because we’ve never been through a pandemic before, you’re never sure how your people are going to react. Some may handle it well and others may be a little bit fragile, so we created an online health and wellness program to better support everyone. Whether it was a mental health session, training modules or a yoga class, our people really embraced it and shone through like we knew they would.
“Obviously now, with restrictions eased, there is some real excitement around getting back to business and enjoying an incredible spring,” Mr Morrison added.
Spring is traditionally a peak time for real estate sales in Victoria however transaction numbers have plummeted early on due to the inability for purchasers to inspect homes.
The number of auctions held in August was down by over 80% compared to recent years, with September numbers down to under 10 per week.
Director/Auctioneer at Harcourts Judd White in Glen Waverley, Dexter Prack said that while the start (of spring) may have been slow he and his office were focused on a big few month ahead.
“To be honest a lot of people have begun to get lockdown fatigue the last couple of weeks so, after focussing on the health and fitness of our team, we’re all overexcited to get back to doing what we love,” he said.
“We’ve managed to keep checking in with our clients over this period, not to ask if they’re ready to sell, but more just to see how they are and how they are coping.
“We’ve also used the time to up-skill and implement a lot of new technologies across the business which will be a huge boost for us moving forward.”
Mr Prack said he had little doubt that spring would be anything less than previous years, although the traditional timeframe of the ‘spring selling season’ may extend through Christmas and beyond.
“We’re a bit behind but I do believe the activity is going to be strong. We have 30 properties in the pipeline and launched seven on Monday. We’ve already had 35 buyer enquiries and booked 10 private inspections, so yeah I think there is going to be a big rush!,” Mr Prack exclaimed.
“Buyers have literally been locked up for some time so there is this mentality already that they want to get in now before it gets too crazy. At the moment it’s just a big relief, my team has never been more excited. Having said that though, I do think our Christmas is going to be at Easter this year as December and January could be some of the biggest months we’ve seen in a long time.”
Harcourts Rata & Co Directors, Robert Ozzimo (right) and Tony Lombardi said their teams had fared pretty well during the lockdown.
“We had our rental team working at full capacity from home where we managed to lease over 80 properties last month virtually, which is a pretty amazing effort,” Mr Ozzimo said.
“The sales team has also completed 15-20 sales through September, all sight unseen, which is a real feather in the cap for them given the situation we’ve been faced with.
“We’ve received great support from our corporate office as well. They’ve really been there for us like never before. Anything we’ve needed has been actioned in record time, so for us as business owners to be able to rely on that support has meant that our teams have then been able to rely on us which has made a real difference.”
Mr Lombardi said making sure their teams were comfortable and continuously communicating with their clients throughout lockdown has stood them in good stead for a bumper spring.
“From a property management side of things, we’re actually up 1% (for the lockdown period) which really points to the fact that we were able to adapt quite quickly to the situation.
“Since the announcement, I personally have booked 21 auctions which I believe will be 30+ by the end of the week so there’s no doubt it’s going to pick up very fast. One of our guys has back to back appointments one day this week 20 minutes apart from 9am to 6pm so the interest from buyers is certainly there too,” Mr Lombardi (photo left) explained.
“Our team is like caged lions at the moment, they just want to get out and get going.”
Mr Ozzimo was also buoyant about a big spring swing.
“I don’t know if it (spring) will be as big as usual, but I do think we’ll make up some significant ground for the year. We don’t care if we’re doing auctions on Saturdays, Sundays, online or on Monday and Tuesday nights, if there’s a will we’ll find a way to get buyers and sellers together.
“If there’s one message that us agents want to get out there, it’s that we’re back and we’re excited, so let’s get going.”