Buying a property during the Covid-19 pandemic

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The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works of real estate, but it hasn’t cancelled buying and selling property altogether. While mass open home inspections and on-site auctions are now banned, and the process of buying a house has adapted to social distancing rules, the act of buying a property itself is still all-systems-go. 

How do I inspect a property?

Inspecting a property looks a little different in the wake of the Coronavirus, with virtual inspections making up for the ban on mass open homes. Video walkthroughs, 3D tours and virtual meetings with agents allow you to inspect a property as you would in person, without risking leaving your home. Of course if you do want to inspect the property in person, you can request a one-on-one inspection. 

Is there an extra cooling off period?

It depends on the property and the contract. Some properties may be selling without a cooling off period and others may be extending it. If you’re planning to buy a property soon, you might consider seeking a cooling off period of at least ten days as there are bound to be valuation delays and delays with banks who are experiencing higher volumes of enquiries at the moment. You also might want to consider speaking with your solicitor about adding a Covid-19 clause to your contract of sale in case there are issues during settlement or approval.

Are pest and building inspections still happening?

Pest and building inspections can still take place but the rules for people visiting occupied homes differ depending on the state and territory. Where property inspections are able to take place virtually, they should, however the work of building and pest inspections requires a certain amount of physical proximity to the property. Inspectors will be taking extra precautions in line with health and safety recommendations when entering a property to conduct their inspections to keep everyone safe. 

Can I move into my new home?

Yes, you can still move in as soon as settlement has ended, even if you’re moving interstate. Removalist companies are still considered an essential business and also taking extra measures to ensure the safety of their clients. They will inform you of those extra measures when you make a booking. 

Things are changing all the time – how will I know if I can still buy a property this way?

The impacts of social distancing when buying a property are continuously changing as the federal and state and territory governments make changes to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. For the most updated information, visit your state or territory websites or speak to your real estate agent. 

Given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen to the real estate industry in the short term. So before committing to buying a property, ensure your job is secure and arrange pre-approval with your bank.