Builders in Victoria have called on Premier Daniel Andrews to open up display homes, land sales offices, sales suits and Open for Inspections, saying extended restrictions could leave the potential sales pipeline closed for six months and damage prospects of a housing led recovery.
In an open letter to the Victorian Premier, the Urban Development Institute of Australia, Master Builders Victoria and the Property Council of Australia commended the government on working with the industry to help implement distancing and hygiene measures on building sites.
But the groups urged the premier to reopen display homes, lands sales offices, sales suites and Open-for Inspections for sales and rentals with appropriate COVID practices during the second step of reopening which is slated for September 28.
Under the state government’s Roadmap to Reopening, aforementioned facilities remain closed throughout both step 2 and 3 of the reopening.
This means these settings will remain closed until at least 26 October, after which they will only be accessible to consumers if cases remain at below five per day.
As a result, aforementioned facilities will not be open during the traditionally busy spring selling season and will not be reopen until close to quieter months in December and January.
During this time, those purchasing new homes or land will need to rely on online means only.
This, the building and property groups say, will decimate the sales pipeline of new homes and the pipeline of new construction.
It will also detract from the impact of the HomeBuilder scheme as Victorians looking to make use of the HomeBuilder Grant and sign a contract prior to December 31 will now be required to view and purchase a home online.
Generally, it takes between 8-12 weeks to contract a new home once interior and exterior selections are considered.
This, the groups argue, will ultimately lead to less HomeBuilder Grant sales and stimulus for Victoria at a time the state needs it.
“In accordance with Stage 4 restrictions, display homes, land sales offices and sales suites have been closed completely in Metropolitan Melbourne since 8 August 2020 and are open by appointment only in regional Victoria,” the letter from the groups reads.
“Under the Roadmap to Reopening announced on 6 September 2020, these settings cannot reopen until November at best.
“With Spring being the strongest selling season, and December and January traditionally soft, this puts the future construction pipeline for the 2021 year under extreme threat.
“We are calling on the Victorian Government to immediately prioritise (from 28 September 2020) the reopening of display homes, land sales offices, sales suites and open-for-inspections, for sale and rental on an appointment basis.
“We strongly urge the Victorian Government to bring forward the opening up of these settings, by appointment, from the recently proposed date of 26 October, in order to give the new housing industry a chance at rebuilding the sales pipeline and lock in a forward workbook for the domestic building industry.”
As well, the groups argue that the freeze on sales and inspections is detrimental to retirement villages, who are required by law to fund exit payments where residents transfer to aged care facilities even in cases where the property has not sold.
With a pause on real estate transactions, retirement operators have experienced a reduction in cash inflow while outflows have remained unchanged as residents continue to move to aged care at the usual rate.
In their letter, the groups say they are willing to provide additional guidance to their members on the safe reopening of facilities.
This will cover areas such as:
- COVID-19 induction processes on entry including temperature checking
- Public signage including bollards at entrances, signs in driveways and internal signage
- Maximum numbers of people in a facility at any one time and no more than 6 people inside at any one time
- Ensuring people keep a safe distance at all times
- Make customer registration compulsory upon entry and, where possible, use a date and timestamped digital platform
- Separated, individual sales zones within the facilities
- Added entry and exit A-frames and internal signage to reinforce physical distancing and hygiene measures
- Creating additional sales zones within the facilities
- Discrete entrance and exits to control the movement of people through the facility
- Safe hygiene practises