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Melbourne buyer could become homeless due to ban on property inspections!

By Tamara Lloyd

Tina Dimovska’s worst fear is becoming homeless. But in two months time, it’s exactly what she could be forced into because of Melbourne’s current real-estate shutdowns.  The mother of two, with a daughter still living at home, is “praying” the Victorian Government will ease restrictions and allow one-on-one inspections early so she can find a new home.  “I don’t know where to turn,” a teary Ms Dimovska told Domain. “I’m really stressing to the max.”

Ms Dimovksa sold her four-bedroom property in Wollert in August, literally days before  Melbourne’s stage four restrictions were introduced.   The restrictions, including the ban on private property inspections, were expected to end on September 13. However, the ban has been extended for another six weeks, until October 26, leaving many in the lurch.  Outside Melbourne, regional Victorians were offered some relief this week.  Those living outside the metro borders will now be able to inspect homes by appointment and attend outdoor auctions after an announcement by Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday.

Under new rules, regional Victoria will move to its third step in the roadmap to recovery, after new coronavirus diagnoses dropped below five per fortnight in country areas.  Buyers such as Ms Dimovska in Melbourne, however, will not be allowed to inspect any properties in person.  Ms Dimovska will have just one month to find, buy and settle on another property — a task she says is impossible.  “I’ve done the virtual inspections but I need to know what it looks like in person,” she said.   One of her biggest concerns, apart from the welfare of her 16-year-old daughter, is her dog Max, cats Tiffany, Hunter and Nala and turtle Oscar, who also need a home.

She fears having the animals means she will not be able to find a rental, even short term, in a worst-case scenario.  “I also don’t want to rent because, number one, no one’s going to give me a short-term rental, and number two, it’s dead money,” Ms Dimovska said.   The expense of renting would also take from her savings for a new home, she said.  Ms Dimovska is not alone in her distress. Domain has spoken to several people looking to either buy after selling or sell after buying a new home who are unable to do so because of the extension of stage four restrictions in Melbourne.

All have spoken about the financial problems they have, including concerns over not qualifying for bridging finance and their fears about becoming homeless.  Many are frustrated that recent changes to restrictions allow the use of outdoor playgrounds and exercise equipment, “social bubbles” during exercise and for people living alone, which they feel highlight inconsistencies with the rules.

Furthermore, by the end of September, Melbourne dog groomers will be allowed to reopen, provided their work is contactless.  Ray White Victoria chief executive Stephen Dullens said agents had received more than 100 of these types of stories from people in desperate situations across Melbourne.  Many had been hoping for restrictions to end on September 13, allowing one-on-one inspections to go ahead.  “A lot of customers understood the [first] six weeks and held on but the extra six weeks on top is really, really challenging for a lot of people,” Mr Dullens said.

Ray White and other major agencies in Melbourne had met with Consumer Affairs Victoria, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Treasurer’s office over the past week to put forward their case for allowing one-on-one inspections, Mr Dullens said.

There had been some positive talks, he said.  Meanwhile, the Real Estate Institute of Australia today joined a growing number of voices demanding that one-on-one inspections be allowed in Melbourne.  “It is our national experience that these activities have been undertaken safely and have mitigated risks of community transmission,” REIA chief executive Adrian Kelly said on Tuesday.  “It is nonsensical that, as an estate agent, I will be permitted to take my pet pooch to the beauty parlour before I can show a prospective tenant or purchaser through a property in order for them to have a roof over their head,” he said.

Ms Dimovska, who has already started to pack up her home, agrees.  “My settlement is on November 28 and after that I’m basically out on the street,” Ms Dimovska said. “I don’t understand why they can’t open one-on-one inspections.  “They’re allowing people to visit in a social bubble and go to parks and playgrounds and even dog grooming.

“At the end of the day, what’s more important? Someone being thrown out of their house, or dog grooming?”

MELISSA HEAGNEY

SENIOR JOURNALIST

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