Ballarat real estate agents are relieved to be able to open properties again to potential buyers, with the latest easing of restrictions allowing inspections and auctions to resume.
Under the latest restrictions, which came into effect across regional Victoria on Friday, real estate agents are able to hold auctions with up to 10 people and private inspections for up to 10 people.
The rules are somewhat more relaxed than real estate agents had to contend with coming out of previous lockdowns when private inspections were only allowed in one-on-one situations.
However, only buyers from regional Victoria are allowed to attend auctions and inspections, preventing the lucrative Melbourne market from buying.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Ray White Ballarat director Phillip Lee said while Melburnians were banned, it was nothing the industry had not experienced previously.
"It certainly has a minor impact. I think if there was lots of stock on the market, it would be more of an issue, but given there's a complete lack of property on the market right now, it's not such an issue that Melbourne buyers can't come up," he said.
"It's better than last year where we did one-on-ones, being able to take 10 people through at a time. It does make it harder for us, but certainly we're not complaining at all because we really want to be able to get people back through properties.
"There are some pretty desperate buyers out there, people that have to move out of properties, there's people that have to move out of rental properties and the full lockdowns have been difficult for those people to move, it's caused all sorts of issues."
Barry Plant Ballarat sales manager Sonia Lavery said the lack of Melbourne buyers would have some short-term impact on prices throughout the city.
"You just don't have as much competition on the homes as we did pre-COVID," she said.
"Short term, yes [it will have an impact], just because we're missing some of the buyers. Long term, no, because I think once they're out of lockdown, I think the prices will increase again."
Ms Lavery said some Melbourne buyers had even gone as far as to put clauses in contracts allowing them to back out of the purchase after inspecting the property when they are able to.
"That lockdown was the hardest we've had. With no inspections, the only people that could buy were sight unseen or Melbourne buyers were putting in offers and then putting in clauses depending on them coming up to view it," she said.
"If it was me, if I was a vendor, I wouldn't have a clause if they come out of lockdown in four or five weeks' time, and don't like the property, you've just taken that property off the market, I wouldn't be risking it."
Mr Lee said agents were used to stopping Melbourne buyers from venturing into the regions and had systems in place.
"When people ring to book an inspection, we ask them where their ordinary place of residence is. If they're from metropolitan Melbourne, we refuse an inspection at that point. Once they arrive at the property, all agents, by law under the COVID restrictions, are required to sight photo ID and refuse entry if they're from metropolitan Melbourne," he said.
"It does happen but we're certainly very vigilant about it. No one in Ballarat wants the virus to come out from Melbourne to Ballarat."
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.