Off the plan sales to continue amid stage four lockdown

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Technology implemented since Melbourne’s first lockdown is expected to keep househunters’ home dreams alive for the coming six weeks.

The city’s developers and new home builders have embraced virtual reality and online trading and are prepared to soldier on.

Last weekend Villawood Properties used an online ballot to sell 14 super-sized blocks of land worth an average $462,000 in the space of 40 minutes at a new estate in Sunbury.

The Sherwood Grange launch went “smoothly”, despite then-stage-three restrictions across Melbourne, chief executive Alan Miller said.

While demand had tapered since an initial spike in response to the government’s $25,000 HomeBuilder grants across late June and early July, it would continue online despite the city moving to a stage four lockdown, Mr Miller said.


More than a dozen buyers splashed an average $462,000 on blocks of land at Villawood’s Sherwood Grange estate launch online last weekend.

Burbank Group managing director Jarrod Sanfilippo said the home builder would be very busy over the coming six weeks with a web portal needed to lodge applications for HomeBuilder expected to be online mid this month.

They were also seeing significant uptake of digital offerings including electronic document signing and their MyPlace3D software, which allows prospective homebuyers to design a home from their living room.

Castran Gilbert director Michael Lang said the project marketing firm was expecting to keep the market moving after the previous lockdown encouraged many developers to implement virtual tours and electronic contracts.

The Lt Hardiman Lofts at 347 Macaulay Rd, Kensington are under construction and buyers are pursuing it even without something to inspect.

Buyers, too, were “more comfortable” with the technology and had moved on the Little Hardiman Lofts in Kensington (middle right) and Cascade apartments in Bentleigh (main) with little regard for traditional display suites.

“You were always buying it off the plan, now you are just buying it off the internet,” Mr Lang said.

But for those not comfortable buying without meeting with an agent or visiting a display, it would be possible to get 90 per cent of the way through the purchase process, he said.

Following Melbourne’s first lockdown, developer Caydon commissioned virtual tours of all its apartment projects.


Buyers can tour the HOME by Caydon display suite without leaving their living room.

Throughout April and May, virtual appointments with prospective buyers outnumbered all other forms of connection, according to Caydon international sales and marketing director Steve Williams.

“Technology will continue to be a significant solution to the problems COVID-19 and the subsequent restrictions of movement,” Mr Williams said.

“Technology is helping bridge any physical gaps between us and our clients during COVID-19.”

Meanwhile, Pace Development Group sales and marketing director Ashley Bramich said 360-degree video tours of townhouses at their Pace of Sunshine North development were viewed more than 100 times a week.


More than 100 buyers a week are taking 360-degree video tours of the Pace of Sunshine North townhouses.

“In the past, 360-degree video tours helped get people to the display, but now buyers are actually buying from them,” Mr Bramich said.

“The quality and technology is now of a standard that educated buyers feel they have the information to proceed with confidence.”

This had helped drive digital sales from about 5 per cent of their market a year ago to 35 per cent today, with the figure expected to rise as more projects enabled electronic contracts — something that would have long-term benefits to efficiency and the environment.

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