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Online auction surge set to be boosted by eased restrictions

21 October 2020

Real estate agents say momentum was already building with online auctions ahead of the expected boost that should come from eased restrictions for on-site sales.

Vendors and buyers have been embracing digital platforms of late to get auctions done and it looks set to remain a feature of the market well after the pandemic dies down.

There 569 auctions listed this week to be conducted online and that was before the Premier Daniel Andrews announced that on-site auctions will again be allowed for up to ten people.

Pre-COVID we normally would expect around 1000 listings a week at this time of year, but the 500-odd this week is a dramatic improvement on recent weeks when the city was in the grip of its second lockdown.

SQM Research’s Louis Christopher told Australian Financial Review the uptick in auction listings reflected the increased willingness to accept digital platforms and the recent decision from government to recommence private inspections.

“It goes to show that virtual auctions have done better than expected,” he said.

“People are now feeling quite comfortable with the process. That in part explains why we have had the increase.

“They are here to stay. Many agents have realised there is an opportunity for an increased audience and potentially even more registered bidders because many people feel intimidated by physically turning up to an auction,” he said.

“Agents who are not adopting this method are short-selling their clients.”

Indeed, many agents will stick to online auctions while not bothering with a ten-person on-site auction simply because it’s simpler than trying to do both at once.

Agents say initial fears that buyers wouldn’t risk buying from an online auction soon evaporated as strong results came in and property had little trouble clearing.

The State Government has also eased restrictions on commercial auctions and commercial inspections in a big boost to economic recovery hopes by allowing business owners to buy, sell or lease properties while they get back on their feet.

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