Dan White | EXPERT OBSERVER
The Victorian Government has based its roadmap to reopening and the precise nature of ongoing restrictions upon Melbourne University’s Dynamic Policy Model.
While Ray White supports this scientific work, it quite explicitly does not provide any advice pertaining to the inclusion or exclusion of specific activities and certainly not of private property inspections.
Ray White Group Managing Director Dan White said the Victorian government’s decision to restrict private inspections must be explained, and identify how it has balanced the danger posed by that activity, accounting for the ability to mitigate risk when performing it with the social and economic impact of restricting it.
The leading group supports that private property inspections can be conducted in a highly controlled setting – in a pre-scheduled activity where only a small group of people interact with each other, while still being able to properly observe social distancing and enact effective transmission mitigation (ie sanitisation of surfaces and the use of personal protective equipment).
This is a safe setting – it does not entail any significant risk of transmission – and it does not constitute the sort of free movement that the cited modeling quantifies the effects of.
Given this, the Victorian model should further consider the huge economic and social impact of ongoing restrictions of property inspections.
Mr White said the group’s customers are demanding to know where does the government’s modelling show that private inspections are dangerous to the community? “And if so, what elements of our protocols are unsafe?”
“And additionally, did they rank the importance of the reasons for allowable people movement from 28 September? If they did, how could they think that visits to bottle shops, hardware shops and personal trainers are more important than the private inspections needed to facilitate the sale and lease of real estate?”
“Shelter is one of the most basic human needs and real estate is an essential service. It also has major financial implications for thousands of Victorian families.”
We have heard of so many of our customers experiencing hardship because of this decision.
Yet another distressed seller was 46-year-old Berwick mum Natalie Brennan. When her husband Gerard had his second stroke earlier this year, she knew they’d need to sell their home.
Mr Brenann, 49, lost his job as a forklift driver for a major pharmaceutical company in July.
The family of four just listed their house for sale last week with experienced agent Anne Haynes of Ray White Berwick.
“We are struggling financially with our mortgage repayments so we need to sell. I’ve had to take all the photos myself and our agent fixed them up and uploaded them online but it’s simply not fair that they won’t allow anyone to have a private inspection,” Ms Brennan said.
“We are a family of four with our children Alana, 14, and Aidan, 12 both doing home schooling. I work part-time at a pharmaceutical warehouse from 2:30pm to 10pm seven days a week. We have a lot of bills with my husband’s medical expenses and I am the only one working.
“But Dan Andrews’ rules don’t make any sense. We cannot even get a signboard put up out the front of our house.
“We are in a very difficult financial position and to ease the tension and stress as we need to sell. My message to Dan Andrews is ‘you are being totally unfair’.
“If I can go to Coles with 250 people then why can’t I have a few people through my house at one on one private inspections?
“We would leave the house and our agent could have inspections with staggered times and all the sanitiser under the sun. It could be done safely.”
Another distressed commercial landlord is retiree Colin Wise, aged in his mid-70s. He and his wife own a investment property in Glen Waverley. Since a tenancy with ANZ Bank ended in May, Mr Wise has been unable to lease the property again due to Stage 4 restrictions.
Mr Wise’s son, Daniel, said the prime asset would ordinarily be tenanted by now given it’s opposite The Glen Shopping Centre on one of the most prominent corner positions.
“This is a family asset and my retired father relies on the property for income. The Andrews Government with their restrictions have curtailed our ability to lease this asset out,” Mr Daniel Wise said.
“We actually had an offer agreed in principle on the doorstep of the first round of restrictions but the uncertainty within the government meant that deal fell over.
“The property is highly sought-after but we’re unable to take people through, even privately, so these restrictions are preventing the income for a retired couple.
“We’re not alone. Our story is just one of many thousands across the state, and people are genuinely struggling out there. It feels like we’ve been completely forgotten and now being completely ignored.
“We must take positive steps to create avenues for commerce to commence. We simply can’t leave Victoria and Melbourne in a state of lockdown. We live with risk in all we do and we have to allow people to get on with their lives.
“All we ask is for a balanced approach and an even playing field. I know for a fact contact tracing is in place when all private inspections are booked and masks and hand sanitizers are compulsory. How can that be any more of a risk than a stranger delivering you UberEats to your door?
“We need an empirically based common sense approach to bring business back in an orderly way as quickly as possible, otherwise thousands of others like my father, will continue to suffer through no fault of their own.”
DAN WHITE is the Ray White Group Managing Director