Mitchell Shire housing market bucks trend

By Jackson Russell

Despite lockdown keeping Melburnians at home, Mitchell Shire real estate agencies have posted record numbers of sales but have noticed a shortage of listings.

The Real Estate Institute of Victoria last week slammed the State Government for keeping ‘the property market shut down for an uncertain period’.

Hess Real Estate director Peter Hess said interest was much higher in Mitchell Shire than in Melbourne.

“This month, there’s been enormous interest and people have realised there’s less impact out here,” he said.

“The last 10 days have been busy, we’ve sold a few houses and probably now the major issue is getting more houses to sell.

“The general comment from people is they want to get out of Melbourne and get away from more lockdowns if they can. They’re tired of stage three or stage four.

“It’s going against the trend, it’s an interesting trend that the industry is going well but if you’re in metro Melbourne, it’s as dead as a doornail. It’s much quieter down there for sure.”

Mr Hess said buyers were placing deposits based on Zoom inspections or getting nearby friends to view the property.

Barry Plant Mitchell Shire had a record number of sales in August, beating its previous record by 25 per cent.

Director Simon Best said the agency had been working on solutions for its Melbourne buyers, with virtual tours and FaceTime calls, and had sold two properties based on virtual tours.

“We have sold two properties to buyers from Melbourne sight unseen based on a virtual tour, but in most cases there’s been a local buyer who’s able to make a strong offer on the basis they’ve physically inspected it so we have been able to cater for a range of circumstances,” he said.

“It proved the local market is still strong and shows that local buyers are as valuable to the local market as those from Melbourne.”

However, Mr Best said he had not heard of buyers moving to regional Victoria to avoid Melbourne’s lockdown.

“I think it’s just the normal reasons for people coming out like affordability and lifestyle advantages in Mitchell Shire,” he said.

“Nearly exclusively all the blocks we sold were to first home buyers and that’s largely due to the government grant.

“Stock levels are down because vendors have a perception that no one’s going to look at the house but we had a record month last month, and we’re up to five or six sales this month and properties are selling because there’s limited property on the market with more buyers relative to availability.”

REIV chief executive Gil King said the metropolitan real estate market received a ‘double whammy’ with the State Government banning private inspections and extending the rental moratorium by six months.

“The continuation of the ban on inspections means that people who desperately need to buy or lease a property will have to make that decision sight unseen,” he said.

“While [extending the rental moratorium] was not unexpected, landlords have virtually no relief while tenants get substantial support.

“With many reduced rental agreements due for renegotiation this month, the REIV is advising its members to refuse to negotiate rent reductions, forcing every request into the dispute system, a system that has already failed to cope with the caseload.”

Mr King said the REIV called on the government to allow one-on-one private appointment inspections of property so people could physically see the property before they committed to a huge investment.

“The delay in allowing private inspections means many people will be unable to make the move they so desperately have to make or commit to a property without seeing it first. That is unacceptable,” he said.

“It is the government’s responsibility to protect tenants and yet they have abdicated this responsibility and pushed it onto private citizens and created a system that does not work.”