As we head into 2022 the property market is again having to be adaptable as the country battles the Omicron strain of COVID-19.
Previous outbreaks have seen property sellers move to online auctions and some are already doing so in the face of Omicron.
Real estate agents are also organizing second teams to cover property inspections in case they develop COVID symptoms.
Real Estate Institute of Australia president Hayden Groves told Domain the industry was bracing itself for changes to deal with the current outbreak.
“One of the biggest risks will be to the property management sector, which is a pretty lean business model anyway,” he said.
“If you have half of your people away battling the illness … and need to chase things like rental arrears or show people through a property, there will be a lot of pressure on that.”
Mr Groves said the usual suspects of online auctions, social distancing, masks and good hygiene would be key in the battle to keep the industry thriving.
“No-one wants to get this thing, so I think people would prefer to participate in an online auction – whether that’s auctioneers doing an auction on an iPad or a mix of in-person and video auctions or open negotiations, which allows bids to be placed online.”
Melbourne has twice before shifted its entire property auction market online – during the 2020 and 2021 outbreaks.
Ray White chief executive in Victoria Stephen Dullens said some vendors wanted to avoid the risk of catching COVID at an in-person auction but others weren’t as worried.
“We have gravitated more and more towards online auctions – there are some agencies that won’t do any on the street at all,” he told Domain.
Mr Dullens said around half of the 200 auctions booked in Victoria in January would be held online.
While auctions can successfully be moved online, it is harder to maintain sales campaigns in the face of Omicron, but buyers are hanging in there.
“Just like everyone, we are seeing more positive cases in our teams and customers like tenants and vendors,” Mr Dullens told Domain.
“Open houses have been a bit more challenging, but we haven’t had too many where they haven’t been able to just keep going with the campaign after isolation finishes.
“Everyone is understanding of the circumstances. It’s just a matter of being open and honest about it.”