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Buying and selling property during coronavirus

Property inspections and auctions have changed completely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here's what buyers and sellers need to know.

Updated . What changed?

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The coronavirus pandemic has turned the property market upside down, with changes to auctions and inspections making life hard for agents, buyers and sellers alike. But despite these challenges the industry has not shut down, and smart buyers and sellers need to prepare to navigate these unfamiliar circumstances.

Read on to find the rules and restrictions affecting Australian property transactions during coronavirus, plus some expert tips for buyers and sellers.

  • COVID-19 restrictions lifted in some states

As coronavirus case numbers subside some governments have begun to loose restrictions on inspections and auctions. See below for details.

What has changed for buying and selling property?

On 25 March the Australian government introduced temporary restrictions on property auctions and inspections. These restrictions are still in place in some states but beginning to be loosened in others.

  • Limits on open house inspections. Instead of open inspections interested buyers must register for a private inspection conducted via an agent. In some states this has been loosened up to a maximum of 10 people.
  • Auctions online or via phone. Properties must be sold either by private treaty (that is, no auction) or through online or phone auctions. Again, auctions are now back in many jurisdictions, with some limitations.

Inspection and auction rules by state

Now that restrictions are easing in some states the blanket national restrictions announced in April now differ depending on your state/territory.

  • NSW. From 9 May 2020 property inspections and onsite auctions can resume in NSW as coronavirus cases subside. All physical distancing rules must be followed and there must be at least four square metres of space for every person at an open property. Observers can turn up for auctions too: you don't need to be a registered bidder.
  • VIC. From 13 May 2020 Victorians can attend inspections and onsite auctions, up to a maximum of 10 people including agents.
  • QLD. In Queensland from 1 May 2020 restrictions were eased to allow up to six people (including an agent) to attend an open home. Public onsite auctions remain banned for now.
  • WA. In Western Australia a maximum of 10 people (including an agent) can attend a property inspection. Auctions remain online only for now.
  • SA. Auctions and inspections are open again with a maximum of 10 people in the property and 4 square metres of space per person.

Helpful tips for buying a property during COVID-19

Couple signing a contract of sale.Private inspections and online auctions sound less daunting in some ways, and the reduced competition as more buyers hold back seems like it's actually a good time for buyers. But new pressures make it harder than ever.

Property expert Cate Bakos helps buyers find and purchase properties in Melbourne. She says that the new conditions are tougher for buyers even though "competing buyer numbers are lower."

"Negotiations and deals are occurring in a less predictable, tighter timeframe and buyers are often being caught out," Bakos says. "Many properties are going under offer before buyers have even started their due diligence preparation. Buyers are missing out on these rapid deals."

People buying property during the coronavirus pandemic need to be ready to move quickly. This means organising private inspections early, deciding if you really want to purchase, and potentially making an offer before auction day.

If selling via auction, check with the agent beforehand so you know how the auction will take place, whether by phone or online. If it's online, make sure you understand how the technology works. You may need to install a program like Zoom or Skype, set up an account and be prepared to show your face on the webcam.

It's also important to get in touch with a conveyancer before you're ready to buy so you can send them a contract of sale fast. It's not uncommon for an agent to ask you to sign quickly when there are multiple interested buyers.

Helpful tips for selling a property during COVID-19

The current situation is clearly stressful for sellers too, especially those looking to sell fast to finance their next purchase. And having multiple people enter your home while you're trying to self-isolate is less than ideal.

For sellers, Bakos advises to be patient and trust your real estate agent. "Unless a genuine time horizon applies, vendors should choose their agent confidently and allow them to do their job to the best of their ability."

"Sellers who are placing hard time pressure on their agent are the sellers who I'm seeing achieve lower sales results. The agents are navigating a changed landscape, but experienced agents still know how to deal with buyers and the art of negotiation."

Get your finances organised

For both buyers and sellers during the coronavirus pandemic, getting your finances organised has never been more important. Unemployment is rising as a result of coronavirus. Lenders will scrutinise your application and their biggest concern is definitely employment and income.

Make sure you have a history of genuine savings and get all your application documents together quickly. Be prepared to provide letters of employment or other proof that your job situation is secure.

And if you're buying a property currently leased to tenants, you have to accept a higher chance now that they could lose their income and struggle to pay rent during coronavirus.

Getting finance organised in the middle of a shutdown can be tricky too. Conveyancers and mortgage brokers are working from home, making in-person consultations difficult. But some property documents may need to be signed physically and witnessed by another person.

You might have an easier time with a tech-savvy online lender. Some, like the neobank 86 400, offer mortgages entirely through brokers and have developed a "social distancing-friendly solution" process that can be completed entirely without face-to-face contact.

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Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment Short Description
Athena Celebrate Home Loan - 60% LVR  Owner Occupier, P&I
2.39%
2.39%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
A very low variable rate for home buyers with 40% deposits or equity. This rate takes effect from 30 September for new and existing customers. You can get this rate if you apply today.
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Owner Occupiers, Variable P&I Rate
2.49%
2.49%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Enjoy flexible repayments, a redraw facility and the ability to split your loan. Plus, pay no application or ongoing fees.
St.George Basic Home Loan - LVR 60% to 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.64%
2.66%
$500 (waived for loans above $150,000)
$0 p.a.
80%
Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get up to $3,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply). A low variable interest rate for home buyers and refinancers. Application fee waived for loans above $150,000.
Suncorp Back to Basics Home Loan - Better Together Special Offer $150k+ LVR<=90% Incl. LMI (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.78%
2.79%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Get one free online redraw per month and pay no ongoing fees. Application fees are waived for loans above $150,000. Refinance to an eligible Suncorp loan and get a cashback of $2,000 or $3,000, depending on your loan amount. Other conditions apply.
HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer (Owner Occupier P&I)
2.65%
2.66%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a low interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Plus you can make extra repayments and free redraw online.
Athena Evaporate Home Loan - 60% to 70% LVR  Owner Occupier, P&I
2.49%
2.43%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
A low variable rate for owner occupiers with 30% deposits. This rate takes effect from 30 September for new and existing customers. You can get this rate if you apply today.
Virgin Money Reward Me Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year $300k+ Special offer (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.29%
2.91%
$300
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
Buy your home and lock in a low rate for the first two years. Get a $2,500 cashback when you switch to Virgin Money with a loan amount of $300,000 or more with an LVR up to 80%. You must apply by 28 August and settle by 30 October 2020.
Macquarie Bank Basic Home Loan - LVR ≤ 60% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.59%
2.59%
$0
$0 p.a.
60%
A competitive variable rate home loan for owner-occupiers. Requires a 40% deposit.
Athena Liberate Home Loan - 70% to 80% LVR Owner Occupier, P&I (*now 2.59%, drops to 2.54% on 30 Sep)
2.54%
2.46%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive variable rate mortgage for owner occupiers $0 application and $0 ongoing fees. This interest rate falls over time as you pay off the loan. This rate will drop to 2.54% p.a on 30 September 2020 for new and existing customers. You can get this rate if you apply today.
Homestar Star Essentials Home Loan - $250K to $850K LVR up to 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.29%
2.32%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A low rate variable mortgage with minimal fees and redraw facility. Requires a 20% deposit. Eligible refinancers can receive up to $1,500 cashback. Conditions apply.
ING Mortgage Simplifier Home Loan - $150,000 to $500,000 (LVR <=80% Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.59%
2.62%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
This low, variable rate loan has no ongoing fees and a redraw facility. Requires a 20% deposit.
Bankwest Complete Home Loan Package Variable - $200k to <$750k LVR <=80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.73%
3.18%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
A low variable rate loan with a 100% offset account and package discounts.
Homestar Star Classic Owner Occupied Fixed Special
1.98%
2.51%
$495
$0 p.a.
80%
A very low 1-year fixed rate for home buyers. Requires a 20% deposit.
Macquarie Bank Basic Home Loan - LVR ≤ 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.74%
2.74%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Pay no application and ongoing fees and take advantage of split and redraw options.
Yard Variable Home Loan - LVR 80% Special (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.39%
2.42%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A very low variable rate loan for home buyers with an optional offset account ($10 monthly fee). 20% deposit required.
Macquarie Bank Basic Home Loan - LVR ≤ 90% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
3.14%
3.14%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Borrow up to $750K with an LVR ≤ 90% and pay no application fee.
ING Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier with Orange Advantage)
2.19%
3.79%
$0
$299 p.a.
95%
Owner-occupiers can enjoy a discounted fixed rate, a rate lock feature and the ability to make additional repayments.
Bank of Melbourne Basic Home Loan - Special Offer (Owner Occupiers, P&I) LVR above 60% up to 80%
2.64%
2.66%
$500 (waived for loans above $150,000)
$0 p.a.
80%
Refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more can get up to $3,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply). A low variable interest rate for home buyers and refinancers. Application fee waived for loans above $150,000.
BankSA Basic Home Loan - Owner Occupier, P&I
2.64%
2.66%
$500 (waived for loans above $150,000)
$0 p.a.
80%
Refinancers borrowing $200,000 or more can get can get up to $3,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply). Buyers and refinancers can get this competitive variable interest rate. A low variable interest rate for home buyers and refinancers. Application fee waived for loans above $150,000.
Suncorp Home Package Plus Fixed - 2 Year Fixed Rate Special Offer $150k+ LVR ≤90% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.29%
3.32%
$0
$375 p.a.
90%
A low fixed rate loan available for borrowers with 10% deposits. Refinance to an eligible Suncorp loan and get a cashback of $2,000 or $3,000, depending on your loan amount. Other conditions apply.
UBank UHomeLoan - 1 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.14%
2.46%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Fix your mortgage for 1 year with a very competitive rate and no ongoing fees.
HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer LVR 90% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.80%
2.81%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
A competitive value home loan with no ongoing fee.
Hunter United No Regrets Home Loan - Owner Occupier
2.79%
2.79%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Home buyers can get a competitive variable rate loan with a 100% offset account and low fees.
Greater Bank Great Rate Discount Variable with Family Pledge Home Loan - Up to 110% LVR
2.94%
2.95%
$0
$0 p.a.
110%
Pay no deposit or LMI and get a discounted rate with this family pledge loan. Requires a family member to act as guarantor. NSW, QLD and ACT only.
MOVE Bank Complete Package Fixed Home Loan - 3 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier)
2.19%
3.15%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
Get a low fixed rate loan plus package discounts. 100% offset account attached.
IMB Budget Home Loan - Special LVR <=90% (Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.78%
2.84%
$449
$0 p.a.
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. You can get an interest rate discount for a limited time with this competitive variable mortgage.
Bluestone Prime Direct (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.59%
2.63%
$0
$0 p.a.
70%
Bluestone's Prime Direct is a competitive variable rate home loan for borrowers with 30% deposits.
Greater Bank Great Rate Home Loan - Discounted 1 Year Fixed LVR ≤80% ($150K+ Owner Occupier)
2.09%
3.53%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get one of the lowest rates on the market with this fixed rate mortgage. Available with just a 10% deposit. Guarantor option available. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
UBank UHomeLoan - 3 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.14%
2.41%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive fixed interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Requires a 20% deposit.
Athena Variable Home Loan - Owner Occupier, IO (*now 3.09%, drops to 3.04% on 30 Sep)
3.04%
2.68%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Owner occupiers can refinance to one of the most competitive interest-only rates in the market. No application fee and no ongoing fees. This rate will drop to 3.04% p.a on 30 September 2020 for new and existing customers. You can get this rate if you apply today.
UBank UHomeLoan - 1 Year Fixed Rate (Investor, P&I)
2.29%
2.84%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Investors can enjoy flexible repayments and an easy application process with this pioneering online lender.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society  Premium Plus Package Fixed Rate - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.44%
3.76%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
Enjoy a discounted fixed rate and the ability to package the loan with other financial products. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (LVR 90% Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.39%
3.14%
$449
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. 2 years fixed interest terms and free access to redraw facility online. Available with a 5% deposit.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Real Deal Home Loan - Special Offer 1 (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.59%
2.63%
$595
$0 p.a.
80%
$2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan - 3 Year Fixed (LVR 90% Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.39%
3.08%
$449
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. 3 years fixed interest terms and free access to redraw facility online. Available with a 10% deposit.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society  Premium Plus Package Fixed Rate - 1 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.39%
3.85%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
Enjoy a competitive rate with no application fee for this package loan. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
AMP Essential Home Loan  -  $100,000 and above (Owner Occupier, P&I)
3.34%
3.37%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
For a limited time, pay no application or settlement fees. You can also take advantage of a free redraw facility.
IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan - 3 Years Fixed (LVR ≤90% Investor, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.74%
3.59%
$449
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. A 3 years fixed rate investor which allows extra repayments to be made.
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Investor Variable P&I Rate
2.89%
2.89%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a discounted, low-fee investor loan from a convenient online lender. 20% deposit required.
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Logo for Athena Liberate Home Loan - 70% to 80% LVR Owner Occupier, P&I (*now 2.59%, drops to 2.54% on 30 Sep)
Athena Liberate Home Loan - 70% to 80% LVR Owner Occupier, P&I (*now 2.59%, drops to 2.54% on 30 Sep)

A competitive variable rate mortgage for owner occupiers $0 application and $0 ongoing fees. This interest rate falls over time as you pay off the loan. This rate will drop to 2.54% p.a on 30 September 2020 for new and existing customers. You can get this rate if you apply today.

Logo for UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Owner Occupiers, Variable P&I Rate
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Owner Occupiers, Variable P&I Rate

Take advantage of a low-fee mortgage with a special interest rate of just 2.49% p.a. and a 2.49% p.a. comparison rate.

Logo for HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer (Owner Occupier P&I)
HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer (Owner Occupier P&I)

Get a low interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Plus you can make extra repayments and free redraw online.

Logo for Suncorp Back to Basics Home Loan - Better Together Special Offer $150k+ LVR<=90% Incl. LMI (Owner Occupier, P&I)
Suncorp Back to Basics Home Loan - Better Together Special Offer $150k+ LVR<=90% Incl. LMI (Owner Occupier, P&I)

Get one free online redraw per month and pay no ongoing fees. Application fees are waived for loans above $150,000. Refinance to an eligible Suncorp loan and get a cashback of $2,000 or $3,000, depending on your loan amount. Other conditions apply.

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