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Domain CEO Jason Pellegrino

In a bid to avoid a total collapse of the Australian real estate market, property sites Domain and REA Group-owned RealEstate.com.au will release a suite of digital tools that allow agents to conduct digital property inspections and auctions.

The move comes after the Australian government announced new social distancing measures, indefinitely banning all real estate open inspections and auctions. In Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s largest property markets, the bulk of property is sold at onsite auctions, which inherently involve large groups of people huddled together.

While auctions have been on the decline since January due to the bushfire crisis, the Covid-19 crisis has exacerbated the issue. Under the current circumstances, the two companies want to help agents keep operations as steady as possible.

“It’s just supporting the industry with these new challenges,” Domain CEO Jason Pellegrino told the Australian Financial Review. “There’s a long history of the real estate industry dealing with these challenges.”

Domain will launch new digital inspection and auction tools through the Real Time Agent business, which it acquired last November. The tools will let agents register bidders and participate in an auction entirely online.

REA Group also launched a digital inspection tool this week and is teaching agents to create virtual videos to include in their listings.

Both companies acknowledged that the property market  may slip deeper into a downturn. But once the uncertainty subsides, they hope the industry will be able to work more efficiently as recovery begins.

“We’re only 18 months away from a significant listings decline driven by a royal commission, credit availability, a whole range of different things the industry worked through — 30% percent of listing volumes in some markets disappeared. And yet the industry dealt with it worked on,” Pellegrino said.

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