New home & house inspections in 2020

Find out what the rules are in your state around open home inspections before purchase. With different restrictions for each state you'll want to be across these!

Article up to date as at 5 November 2020

As with various aspects of life, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we are used to doing many things. So it is not surprising that COVID-19 has affected auctions and house inspections across Australia as new rules and guidelines are being established. 

With restrictions in each state varying across the nation, it can be difficult to keep up with what you can and can’t do at property inspections anymore. To help understand the new rules and guidelines around property inspections, we have created a breakdown of the rules you may need to follow in each state. 

New Home & House Inspection Rules by State 2020

Victoria has been hit the hardest with COVID-19 out of all the states and territories in Australia, therefore we can expect to see some of the strictest guidelines in place for attending a property inspection. 

Currently, the Victorian government has established the following rules when it comes to conducting inspections in Melbourne1:

  • Inspections must be pre-arranged or private appointment and for no longer than 15 minutes
  • As the prospective purchaser, you can only be accompanied by one other person from the same household or their intimate partner, or their children if under 18 years old and without access to any child care assistance. 
  • Groups of up to 10 people in total are permitted to inspect homes at the same time. 
  • Current residents are not permitted to to be at the property at the time of inspection.
  • An inspection cannot occur if the resident is in quarantine or self-isolation in the property. 
  • If you live in metropolitan Melbourne, you are unable to travel to regional Victoria to inspect a property.
  • Anyone attending a property should maintain physical distancing, by keeping 1.5 metres away from others and must wear a face mask unless they have a lawful reason not to.

While all these rules are in place for home inspections in Melbourne, auctions are still able to occur, but can only be conducted remotely. Whereas in regional Victoria, auctions can be held outdoors with up to 10 people plus the staff required to conduct the auction.

If you are looking to attend a home inspection for your first home, you may be eligible for the First home owners grant in Victoria. To find out more and how much you could save click here.

COVID-19 has impacted the way businesses across various sectors in New South Wales operate, including how auctions and house inspections are run. 

After a six-week limited shutdown of property inspections and auctions at the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, the NSW government announced that inspections could return with some new guidelines in place to remain “COVID Safe”. 

The key health guidelines2 to consider when attending an auction or home inspection include:

  • Maintain physical distancing of greater than 1.5m and managing of the 4 square metre rule. In the event that there are too many people to exceed the 4 square metre rule in the house, you will be expected to wait in an open space 
  • Good hygiene is promoted on the premises, including the use of available hand sanitiser 
  • Providing personal information that will be collected and recorded for up to 28 days including full name and mobile number or email address
  • Only attend inspections if you are genuinely in the market for a new home
  • Do not attend a property if you’re experiencing any symptoms of illness.
  • Refrain from handling any objects inside the property and where appropriate wash hands or apply hand sanitiser before and after handling objects. 

If you are looking to attend a home inspection for your first home, you may be eligible for the First home owners grant in New South Wales. To find out more and how much you could save click here.

As of 3 July 2020, the Queensland government has eased the rules regarding auctions and open home inspections. 

Despite the rules being relaxed, if you are looking to attend a house inspection in Queensland it is important to understand that the following guidelines3 are still in place: 

  • Auctions and open houses can be conducted freely with up to 50 people present
  • All people attending must adhere to no more than one person per 2 square metres for spaces less than 200 square metres and 4 square metres for any larger areas. 
  • Personal data such as full name and mobile number or email address will be collected for potential COVID-19 tracing purposes
  • All attendees must adhere to strict hygiene standards and social distancing. 

If you are looking to attend a home inspection for your first home, you may be eligible for the First home owners grant in Queensland. To find out more and how much you could save click here.

The ACT government reintroduced auctions and house inspections on the 8th of May along with some guidelines to combat the effects of COVID-19. Since then they have announced further easing of restrictions as attending house inspections in the ACT attempts to slowly get back to normal. 

As of the 9th of October 2020 the following guidelines4 are still in place and should be taken into account when you are attending a home inspection in the ACT:

  • No more than 25 people (excluding staff) are to be inside the house at any one time, however, more than 25 people are allowed if there is enough space for one person per 4 square metres up to a maximum of 200 people
  • Maintain physical distancing of 1.5 metres
  • Stay home if unwell
  • Provide first name and phone number to be recorded along with the date and time of inspection for 28 days. 
  • Do not congregate in large groups. 

If you are looking to attend a home inspection for your first home, you may be eligible for the First home owners grant in the ACT. To find out more and how much you could save click here.

In South Australia, house inspections and auctions recommenced on the 11th May 2020 with specific COVID-19 guidelines in place to ensure all attendees comply with the requirements established by the SA government. 

The following rules5 are in place in SA to assist in controlling the spread of COVID-19 and must be adhered to:

  • Only 1 person per 2 square metres (excluding staff) are allowed in the home, with the maximum number of attendees being determined by the size of the home. 
  • Personal information must be collected that includes the time and date of inspection, the name of each person that attended and their mobile number or email address. 

If you are looking to attend a home inspection for your first home, you may be eligible for the First home owners grant in the ACT. To find out more and how much you could save click here.

The WA government’s response to COVID-19 has been in the form of a roadmap that advises all restrictions and limitations in each phase. As of the 27th of June, Western Australia has entered phase 4 and does not currently have any date in place as to when they will move into phase 5. 

Under phase 4 of WA’s COVID-19 roadmap, auctions and house inspections are allowed to be conducted with the following conditions6 applied: 

  • The limit on the number of people allowed to attend is determined by the 2 square metre per person rule
  • All attendees must practice physical distancing by keeping 1.5 metres from other people 
  • Attendees should practice good personal hygiene. 

If you are looking to attend a home inspection for your first home, you may be eligible for the First home owners grant in the Western Australia. To find out more and how much you could save click here.

In the Northern Territory, house inspections and auctions were permitted to be held as of the 1st of May 2020. 

Since the 5th of June 2020, the NT government has announced that they are moving into stage 3 of their COVID-19 restrictions. This stages involves an ease of previous restrictions, meaning that although you are still able to attend a house inspection you must adhere to these principles

  • Physical distancing of 1.5 metres minimum should occur between yourself and any other person at the inspection you do not know. 
  • If needing to face another person at a distance closer than 1.5 metres, this contact should be less than 15 minutes. 
  • Avoid touching your face and cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow in order to maintain good hygiene practices. 

If you are looking to attend a home inspection for your first home, you may be eligible for the First home owners grant in the Northern Territory. To find out more and how much you could save click here.

Tasmania has experienced many changes to they way house inspections are run and how they expect people to behave when attending. 

The Tasmanian government has developed “sector workplace guidelines” for many industries, including real estate. These guidelines outline the rules and regulations that must be followed by businesses to be considered having an adequate “COVID-19 Safety Plan” in place before they can reopen. 

Under stage 1 on the 18th of May, the Tasmanian government released the real estate sector guidelines that include the following rules in relation to house inspections:

  • When attending house inspections you are encouraged to not attend with any family or friends who do not reside with you. 
  • Explore virtual property tours when available to shorten the time you spend at a house inspection
  • Provide personal information such as name and mobile number or email address to assist with contact tracing
  • Refrain from unnecessary touching of items within the property
  • Maintain 1.5 metres physical distance with other
  • Expect queueing arrangements outside the property in the event of a large attendance for an inspection. 

If you are looking to attend a home inspection for your first home, you may be eligible for the First home owners grant in Tasmania. To find out more and how much you could save click here.

We are here to help

If you’re entering the property market during this time, it’s important to understand these changes to house inspections, however, although things are different, auctions and home inspections are occurring throughout the country. 

When planning to visit an open home, ensure you are prepared by speaking with your local Mortgage Choice broker to get expert advice, and understand what you can borrow.

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1 https://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/resources-and-tools/advice-in-a-disaster/coronavirus-covid19-and-your-rights/restricted-areas
2
 https://www.nsw.gov.au/news/nsw-ready-to-reopen-front-door-on-property-inspections-and-on-site-auctions
3 https://www.health.qld.gov.au/system-governance/legislation/cho-public-health-directions-under-expanded-public-health-act-powers/business-activity-undertaking-direction
4 https://www.covid19.act.gov.au/what-you-can-do/faqs-changes-to-restrictions/real-estate-auction-houses-body-corporates
5 https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/restrictions-and-responsibilities/activities-and-gatherings
6 https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-the-premier-and-cabinet/covid-19-coronavirus-wa-roadmap
7 https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/roadmap-new-normal
8 https://coronavirus.tas.gov.au/business-and-employees/covid-19-safe-workplaces-framework/sectors-workplace-guidelines




Posted in: Property market