Real estate is dealing with its uncertain new digital world as the sector becomes the latest to feel the bite of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday night Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared that public auctions and open home inspections would be among the activities to shut down from midnight on Thursday in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Executive Director of Economic Research at REA Group Cameron Kusher said there was no evidence to suggest the market would substantially slow down, but it was expected.
“I would expect that are going to be fewer new listings on the market, and people with properties on the market might be reconsidering whether its the time to sell at the moment.
As a result we will see fewer sales and we could start to see some price falls as well,” Mr Kusher told AAP.
There are still plenty of auctions scheduled this week – Melbourne with the most at 1270, Sydney 940, Brisbane 177, Adelaide 100, Canberra 74 and Perth 23.
As the property sector moves further online, with realestate.com.au launching digital inspections on Wednesday, Mr Kusher said there was a chance for the industry to evolve.
“For the broader industry there is an opportunity. Real estate hasn’t shut down,” he said.
Real Estate Institute of Australia President Adrian Kelly said changes needed to be made, including a focus on digital tools.
“While it is not business as usual … there are still ways of conducting inspections and to auction property,” he said.
“Innovative and flexible agents should make better use of technology.
Private inspections by appointment are still permitted across the country, but customers must advise if they have been overseas recently or are unwell.
They also must declare if they have coronavirus or are being tested.
Agents will now be conducting virtual reality inspections and online auctions, with phone transactions and electronic document signatures online becoming more common.
Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Leah Calnan said real estate businesses were prepared for a digital shift.
“Many agencies have already invested in online platforms for property auctions and have been trialling them in recent months, and houses will continue to be sold,” she said.
Mr Kusher said while confidence was understandably lacking at the moment, he anticipated the property market would bounce back when coronavirus started to ease.
“Once confidence returns and people can go back to living their lives, I suspect the housing market will be strong,” Mr Kusher said.