Peak industry associations have expressed concerns that Melbourne’s construction pipeline will slow down if real estate restrictions continue for another month.
Changes to Melbourne’s Covid-19 restrictions will see construction workers on land and large-scale developments increase on 28 September, however agents will be unable to conduct inspections until further restrictions lift on October 26.
For buyers to be eligible for the HomeBuilder grant they will have to sign a contract by the end of the year with construction starting within three months.
Housing Industry Association Victorian executive director Fiona Nield said this won’t give buyers enough time to visit sites and make critical decisions.
“Even after home buyers are able to visit display suites and choose their builder, there will be limited time to complete the detailed design requirements before this deadline.
“If sales in Victoria continue to decline in September, which appears likely given the ongoing restrictions, this will impact on the number of homes commencing construction later this year and into 2021,” Nield said.
Real Estate Institute of Victoria chief executive Gil King said the REIV has made multiple attempts to get the Premier to change the rules for agents.
“The industry has been prepared and equipped to conduct one-on-one inspections safely.
“There have not been any reported instances of infection transmission through real estate practices,” King said.
Despite these difficulties, a number of large-scale developments have kicked off during the lockdown period, including Pace Development Group’s $250 million Blackburn project and Caydon Property Group’s $300 million Alphington development.
Pace sales and marketing director Ash Bramich said sales suites need to reopen sooner to circumvent a scenario that would see the majority of construction starts pushed back to the second half of 2021.
“As it stands, if Victoria doesn’t reach the current set quotas by October, we’ll be looking at a dire situation where projects won’t be coming out of the ground until the second half of next year,” Bramich said.
“This is because there is a significant lag between developers’ ability to market and sell projects, meet pre-sale requirements, secure funding and ultimately commence construction.”
In lieu of any changes to inspections, Pace has decided to move forward on its mixed-use development in Blackburn across four residential towers in order to gain more buyers eligible for the HomeBuilder scheme.
In Alphington, Caydon has also commenced construction with Hickory Group as the builder for its 324-dwelling development on the site of the former Amcor paper mill.
Caydon managing principal Joe Russo said the group has had to close its display suite but has continued with virtual appointments and construction onsite under Covid-19 restrictions.
“We are adapting to these changes through constant education and communication with both Hickory personnel and contractors on-site,” Russo said.
“The importance of staying well and keeping safe is the utmost priority for our team and stakeholders.”