COVID-19 continues to interrupt everyday life, but the search for the perfect property doesn’t have to come to a halt.
Here’s everything you need to know about inspecting a home during the pandemic.
We are living in unprecedented times as the Coronavirus pandemic rolls on, continuing to affect everyday activities. This includes buying your dream home.
While it’s true that the real estate market is still very much up and running with prospective buyers across Australia continuing their search for the right property, there are some new rules that everyone needs to heed in order to keep themselves and their communities safe.
So, what do you need to know about home inspections and open houses during COVID-19? Here’s a quick rundown.
Note the restrictions vary state to state and updates are frequently released. While all of this information was up to date at the time of writing (August 2020), it is always best to do your own research to ensure you’re abiding by the latest rules.
Open homes are permitted in Queensland, but there are a couple of rules to keep in mind:
The number of people permitted to enter a home is restricted to 50, with social distancing of 1.5 metres strongly encouraged. Agents must allow for 4 square metres of distance between each person at all times. If the home is less than 200 square metres in size, this limit is reduced to 2 one person per 2 square metres.
Make sure you maintain good hygiene, washing or sanitising your hands before and after you enter a home. If you’re an agent, you must also maintain the cleanliness of the property, conducting frequent cleaning and disinfection. Masks are not required, but feel free to wear one if it makes you feel more comfortable.
You are required to provide your details to the agent before you enter the property. This includes your name, phone number and email address. Agents, you should also record the date and approximate times of each person entering and exiting the property. These records must be kept on file for a minimum of 8 weeks to assist with contract tracing if needed.
Masks are required in the entire state of Victoria. If you leave your home for any reason, you must be wearing a mask. The only exceptions to this rule are:
- Children under 12
- Those with a medical condition and appropriate documentation (ie a medical certificate).
Because Victoria is currently under Stage 3 (regional Victoria) and Stage 4 (Melbourne) restrictions, open homes are running a little differently than other states.
In Melbourne, in-person open homes are not permitted. They must be conducted online. Online auctions are permitted, allowing prospective buyers to arrange a private inspection with the agent.
In regional Victoria, you must arrange a private inspection with the agent. Remember to wear your mask! Agents have the right to deny you entry at the property if you’re not wearing one. Similar to Queensland, strict social distancing rules (one person per 4 square metres) apply and you will be required to provide your details at the door.
As of May 2020, home inspections are permitted in New South Wales, but it is encouraged to view the home through other digital means if possible in the first instance.
While masks are not required to attend an open home, it is strongly recommended that you wear one. There are also a few social distancing rules to keep in mind.
Remember to maintain 1.5 metres of distance between yourself and those around you. Agents should also cap the number of people entering each property, ensuring each person has approximately 4 square metres of space around them at all times.
Good hand hygiene should be practiced, sanitising your hands before and after you enter any property. Agents may provide alcohol-based sanitisers at the entry and exit points of the home. And like Queensland and Victoria, you will be required to provide your details at the door to assist with contact tracing if necessary.
Satisfied with their progress in slowing the spread, Western Australia has started to relax some of their restrictions around COVID-19 and real estate.
Open home inspections are permitted with no more than 10 people entering the property at a time. You are expected to practice appropriate social distancing rules (1.5 metres) and the agent must ensure 2 square metres of space between each person in the home.
As expected, hand sanitisation practices are heavily encouraged, with agents providing sanitisers for those entering and exiting the home. Masks are not required.
The Northern Territory has also begun to relax restrictions, allowing property inspections for buyers. While the process is returning to normal, it is still recommended that prospective buyers practice social distancing whenever possible.
With cases largely stabilising in Tasmania, the state has lifted all emergency measures as of 1 July 2020. Open homes can be carried out as normal as long as all prospective buyers and agents adhere to a few minor rules.
Avoid attending inspections with friends or family to help keep the number of people in the property down. Maintain appropriate social distancing before, during and after viewing the property.
Agents should provide alcohol-based hand sanitiser at the entry and exit points. Make sure you use it before and after you view the property. It’s also a good idea to cut out any unneeded touching while walking through the property. If you are an agent, make sure you wipe down frequently used surfaces frequently, such as door handles and light switches.
All prospective buyers must leave their details with the agent, including your name, phone number and email address.
Open inspections are also allowed in the ACT, with the maximum number of people allowed capped at 100. All visitors must maintain appropriate social distancing rules, and agents must ensure that there is at least 4 square metres per person in the property at all times.
Make sure you practice good hand hygiene by washing or sanitising your hands before and after you attend the inspection. You must also provide your details at the door (including name, phone number and email address) to help with contact tracing if needed.