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Property buyers were still out and about at Melbourne auctions on the weekend despite health fears

17 March 2020

Property buyers were still keen to get out and about on the weekend despite coronavirus spread fears, although real estate agents were noticeably putting away their handshakes to limit possible spread.

There were over 1000 auctions in Melbourne on Saturday and we recorded an auction clearance rate of 68 per cent, which is down from a couple of weeks ago before the coronavirus really took off but still a pretty solid result considering.

RayWhite has been bringing in some measures for agents to encourage people to stay active in the market, such as information packs and banning handshakes.

“The message here is people are rightly being more cautious surrounding the current health issues,” Chief Victorian auctioneer Matthew Condon told Domain.

So what effect will this current health crisis have on property prices?

There are fears unemployment would have to rise given the huge disruption to labour markets and that would no doubt mean house price growth forecasts would be cut significantly as a result.

There are generally two trains of thought here, either things get worst case and property prices fall or the crisis ends being more mild case scenario and a dip in prices is modest and temporary.

Agent and auctioneer David Sciola said a ban on handshakes was a temporary measure and was positive about the next few weeks in the property market.

“The share markets coming off 30 per cent does have a flow-on effect but we’re coming off such a strong few weeks in the property market and I think that will continue for some time,” he told Domain.

Hockingstuart auctioneer Marcus Fregonese said they have only issued non-enforced guidelines at this stage around human contact during the health crisis.

“There’s a few buyers asking the question about if the coronavirus was going to affect things but we haven’t seen that yet,” he told Domain.

“We’ve been warned, but we saw a couple of hundred people at the auctions today so people are out and about.”

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