She said coronavirus information and hygiene notices would be displayed at open homes and attendees would fill out a register so the agent knows who has attended.
Agents have also been advised to consider opening doors before the start of the open home to avoid transmission via door handles and to contact residents in advance to ensure they are not self-isolating or subject to a quarantine order.
She said last week’s open home numbers were “very strong” with the virus yet to impact on home buyers.
Some real estate agents are opting for individual tours rather than group showings of homes and cleaning auction paddles before handing them out.
The Reserve Bank of Australia flagged the housing market as one of the more strongly performing industries in its February meeting minutes, saying higher house prices and the higher level of sales was expected to support consumption and dwelling investment. While investment in property has been declining in recent quarters a trough was expected by the end of 2020 with a recovery through 2021.
However Real Estate Institute of Australia president Adrian Kelly said in a statement the property market would more likely be affected by reduced consumer sentiment than by the virus itself.
“I am already hearing of many stories whereby potential vendors are deciding not to sell at this time, preferring to wait until things normalise,” Mr Kelly said.
“Whilst such a notion is completely understandable, it doesn’t make sense as we all know it is better to sell in a market with less competition and I have no doubt that our buyers will continue to purchase regardless of how the seller may be feeling,” he said.
“I suspect any reduced consumer sentiment is likely to be magnified in the larger cities than in regional parts of Australia, just as the nonsensical rush to buy toilet paper has been.”
He said the property market would “return to normality” when the outbreak was under control.
McGrath real estate agents are set to trial a “safe working environment” for team members across six Sydney sales offices on Monday.
“While we have not been impacted internally, we want to proactively plan and test our operating systems to ensure our business continues to run smoothly and effectively should the need arise to work remotely,” McGrath chief executive Geoff Lucas said in a statement.
“We have developed a range of contingencies should the situation requires, however we have not found it necessary to implement any measures at our open homes inspections and auctions at this point.”
Jennifer Duke is an economics correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra.