Can I Buy A Home During A Lockdown?

Yes, you can. Buying a property during a lockdown can be harder, but it is possible. Auctions have moved online and open homes are limited to one person at a time. The real-estate industry has experience catering to customers’ needs through digital channels and practising safety measures for onsite visits.

You can view property through:

The services of real-estate agents and buyer’s agents are available online.

  • Virtual tours
  • Live streams of the property using video-conferencing technologies like Zoom and FaceTime
  • You can request that the agent look at specific corners of the house and ask your burning questions during the livestream.

The mortgage industry has adopted technologies to help borrowers get approved for a home loan during lockdowns. Banks often accept digital signatures on home loan applications and other documents. Kerbside valuations of properties are sometimes accepted as well.

Tips For Buying Property At Online Auctions

The tried and tested strategies of onsite auctions might be difficult to replicate during an online auction. You’re not always able to see whom you’re bidding against and your bid could even get lost due to technical difficulties.
It’s best to establish a rapport with the vendor selling the house and get their contact details. If possible, opt for a private sale and offer the best price you can. With the current lockdown circumstances, the vendor could be more accommodating.

  • Save the number of the real-estate agent so you’re a text away if you run through any technical difficulties.
  • Keep track of how much your competitors are bidding.
  • Deposit bonds are available if you cannot save for a deposit before an auction.
  • If your bid wins, you might have to transfer the deposit electronically; increase your daily transfer limit with your bank.
  • Try to negotiate a private sale before going to auction. If there are other interested buyers, your competition could outbid you.

Are Open Homes And Auctions Allowed During A Lockdown?

As different states across the country have varying degrees of lockdowns, we’ve compiled information on what is allowed in each state.

State/Territory Lockdown period Are open homes or auctions allowed?
New South Wales Extended to 28 August 2021 No, open homes and in-person auctions are not allowed in Greater Sydney
Victoria Lockdown lifted from 27 July 2021 Yes, open homes and onsite auctions are allowed
Queensland Lockdown is in effect from 31 July to 8 August 2021 No, open homes and in-person auctions are not allowed in lockdown areas
Western Australia No current lockdown, but there are travel restrictions if you’re arriving from a hotspot Yes, open homes and in-person auctions are allowed
Northern Territory No current lockdown, but there are travel restrictions if you’re arriving from a hotspot Yes, open homes and in-person auctions are allowed
Australian Capital Territory No current lockdown, but there are travel restrictions if you’re arriving from a hotspot Yes, open homes and in-person auctions are allowed
South Australia Restrictions in place Yes, open homes and in-person auctions are allowed
Tasmania No current lockdown, but there are travel restrictions if you’re arriving from a hotspot Yes, open homes and in-person auctions are allowed

Please note, the information in the table is as at 2 August 2021. Check the state or territory government website for specific lockdown restrictions.

What Are The Lockdown Rules For Real Estate?

For states and territories that allow auctions, open homes and property inspections, ensure the following lockdown rules are observed:

  • Maintain a distance of 1.5 metres between people who are not from the same household.
  • Some states have online check-in apps that you must use.
  • Wearing face masks is encouraged, especially indoors, and in some states, mandatory.
  • Some states have a density quotient –a limit on how many people are allowed per square metre. In most instances, it’s one or two people per square metre inside a venue.
  • Real-estate agents must maintain and follow a COVID-19 safety plan.

COVID-19 Safety Plan: What’s Included?

An agent has to make sure:

  • People who are unwell are not allowed to enter the premises. If you are not feeling well, it’s best to let the agent know in advance.
  • Employees know and exercise the protocol in the safety plan
  • A distance of 1.5 metres is maintained where possible
  • A capacity limit is maintained where applicable
  • To avoid allowing crowds of people
  • Hand sanitiser is available on the premises
  • Bathrooms are stocked with soap and paper towels or hand dryers
  • Indoor hard surfaces are cleaned and disinfected frequently
  • Doors, windows, cabinets, etc are open so people do not have to touch surfaces and door knobs
  • To maintain a register of participants with names, contact numbers, dates and times for contract tracing; if you attend, make sure you provide a working number

Can I Move House During Lockdown?

In most cases, you can move house during the lockdown, especially if you scheduled the move before restrictions were in place. The services of removalists are available. However, if moving house is not essential, try to postpone the move, especially if you’re moving in (or out) of lockdown-affected areas.

  • Ensure all your boxes are packed and carefully labelled.
  • If possible, move to the residence where you are relocating.
  • If you are unwell, reschedule.
  • Avoid touching your face when moving boxes.

Lockdown Lending Restrictions

Lenders are looking at your income and job stability when you apply for a home loan. They might ask for your most recent payslips preceding the home loan application date. As a lockdown could cause changes in your working hours or income, it’s best to get a confirmation letter from your employer outlining that your job is secure.

Furthermore, some lenders will not accept government lockdown payments as an acceptable form of income.

If a valuer cannot enter the premises during the lockdown, some lenders will accept kerbside valuations. Property valuations relying on views from the street or video-conferencing with the tenant or occupant are generally not accepted.

There are some temporary lending restrictions for self-employed borrowers. Lenders will ask for these documents:

  • Most recent financial statements or tax returns, no more than 18 months
  • Most recent three months Trading Account Statements
  • Commentary on whether the business is affected by lockdown
  • Proof of any government support payments the business is seeking

Should I Wait For The Lockdown To End Before Buying?

While the lockdown has affected Australia’s property market, it has not come to a complete standstill. Interested buyers are still purchasing property via online auctions and booking private appointments for home inspections.

In fact, buyer’s agents are busy booking appointments and liaising with real-estate agents to get the right property for their customers, as supply is limited and demand is keeping prices up. Some sellers might be looking to close a deal quickly and you might get property at bargain prices. Once lockdown ends, the pent-up demand might leave you competing with even more people to buy your dream home.

Our mortgage brokers can help you figure out if you can buy a property during a lockdown. Call us on 1300 889 743 or complete our free assessment form.

Tips For Buying A Home During Lockdown

  • Work with a lender that accepts and understands your situation. Each lender has different risk appetites and some might tighten policies for certain borrowers.
  • Confirm with your employer that your job and income are secure. Reduced work hours could mean less income. It is normal for lenders to perform an employment check prior to settlement.
  • Be truthful about your circumstances. Do not lie about your working hours and job stability. If the documents cannot back up what you’ve said, you’ll ruin your chances of approval.
  • If private inspections and private sales are available, they are preferable to virtual tours and online auctions.
  • Get pre-approved for a home loan so you know your finances are in order. Most agents only allow private inspections for highly motivated buyers or those who are pre-approved.
  • Enlist the help of a buyer’s agent to shortlist possible homes and ensure you buy the right one.
  • Get help from a team of home buying experts to navigate the market.
  • If you’re on the cusp of settlement, talk to your conveyancer or solicitor about how to proceed. Ensure there are provisions in place to account for any external hiccups during the settlement process.

We’re Here To Help

Home Loan Experts’ mortgage brokers are available to assist you with your home loan. We can help you navigate the current processes and lending guidelines to get you approved for a home loan during a lockdown. Call us on 1300 889 743 or complete our free assessment form.

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