28/04/2020 - 12:12

Relaxed restrictions to boost ailing housing industry

28/04/2020 - 12:12

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Real estate agents and new homebuilders have roundly welcomed the lifting of restrictions that shut display villages and prevented home opens, with the shift expected to help the sector rebound from record low transaction levels.

Display villages will once again be active after the state government lifted several COVID-19 restrictions at the weekend. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Real estate agents and new homebuilders have roundly welcomed the lifting of restrictions that shut display villages and prevented home opens, with the shift expected to help the sector rebound from record low transaction levels.

Premier Mark McGowan on Sunday announced the relaxing of certain restrictions put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, with home opens and display villages now subject to a maximum capacity of 10 people.

Data from the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia showed previous restrictions had made a significant impact on transaction levels, with record lows of fewer than 300 sales recorded in each of the past three weeks.

REIWA president Damian Collins said social distancing and hygiene rules would still apply, while real estate agents would be required to maintain a register of people who attend each home open.

“While Western Australia seems to be past the worst of the outbreak, we still take the current restrictions seriously and will be working closely with our members and the government to ensure that we do our part in helping to reduce the spread,” he said. 

“The cautious relaxation in restrictions coupled with the announcement to provide rental assistance for those in financial stress, is most welcomed by REIWA and we hope this is the beginning of things starting to look up – not just for real estate but for the wider WA economy.” 

Master Builders Association WA executive director John Gelavis said the easing of restrictions would be a major boost to the new home building sector, with display home visits a crucial element of the buying process.

He said 70 per cent of respondents to a recent Master Builders survey reported a 40 per cent decline in their future pipelines of work in the wake of COVID-19.

“Now is a great time to ease these restrictions, encouraging those considering buying homes back to display villages and display homes in WA, which will lead to more homes being built.” Mr Gelavis said.

“This is great news and support for the many small businesses, mum and dad builders, big builders, subbies, manufacturers, suppliers and apprentices and we welcome the ongoing support by the state government”

Housing Industry Association WA executive director Cath Hart said the announcement effectively reopened the front door of the state’s residential building industry.

She said the HIA would work to ensure display homes adhered to safety guidelines to keep consumers and workers safe.

“Display homes are the shopfront for home building but distancing requirements meant they have been closed other than by appointment,” Ms Hart said. 

“This has meant very few new home building projects were initiated over the past month. In fact, HIA’s weekly survey of WA display home traffic saw visitor numbers plummet by more than 90 per cent from around 2500 in early March to fewer than 50 last weekend. 

“That will translate into a trough in WA’s residential building pipeline over the coming 12 months so we’re also working on proposals to support the next stage of economic recovery.”

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