A whopping average of $19.92bn in property sales was recorded during each spring selling season over the past five years, analysis by property research firm CoreLogic has revealed.
But experts say an extended ban on physical home inspections to at least October 26 — assuming the state records fewer than five daily COVID-19 cases over the previous two weeks — amounts to “a death sentence” for this year’s spring market.
Street auctions are also off the table until late November when the real estate sector is expected to be able to operate more freely if case numbers hit zero for a full fortnight.
The extended lockdown could also strip billions from Victorian government coffers, which were due to collect more than $6bn in stamp duty revenue across 2020.
CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless said 15,544 properties hit the market in September and October 2019. But fresh listings were now “tracking 76 per cent lower” than a year ago.
“The drop in market activity has negative implications for stamp duty receipts across Victoria, which comprise one of the largest revenue sources for the state government,” he said.
Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Leah Calnan said weekly auction volumes had plunged 97 per cent from a year ago, with just 21 conducted via online platforms last week.
The peak industry body estimated about 12,000 properties usually went under the hammer between September and November.
“The real estate industry contributes approximately 46 per cent of tax revenue into the government, so it’s really important the economy works out a way we can continue to work.”
The Real Estate Industry Partners’ agency network calculated every property transaction also poured an average of $120,000-$150,000 into related services, like photographers, signage businesses, conveyancers, stylists, cleaners and gardeners.
Real Estate Buyers Agents Association president Cate Bakos said the requirement to meet case number targets before lifting restrictions could drive homeowners to scrap their sales plans altogether.
“It will depend on why the vendor is selling. Some may still have to move if they have a baby on the way, or need to be school zones before next year,” Ms Bakos said.
“I envisage a very distorted spring market, which more or less infiltrates December and January and becomes a summer market.”
When asked about the inspections ban last week, Premier Daniel Andrews didn’t rule out exemptions for Melburnians who desperately needed to buy or sell.
“We’ve always welcomed people making their case,” Mr Andrews said.
“I know there are many in the real estate community and vendors who would love different settings. But a bit like pubs and restaurants and cafes, they wouldn’t be back to normal for long.”
“People have already sold their properties and need to find somewhere to rent or buy, because they’re going to be homeless otherwise,” he said.