What the COVID-19 health and safety measures mean for the development and off-the-plan sector

Market Insights
4 years ago
4 minutes

This is indisputably an unprecedented and uncertain time in Australia and around the world, making it difficult for government and industry bodies to effectively predict exactly how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the economy and individual industries. 

Building, construction and development employs in excess of 1.4 million people in Australia – more than the manufacturing and mining industries combined – meaning that millions of Australians are currently anxiously awaiting any updates relating to the industry, and seeking information on what the increasingly stringent lockdown and social distancing measures will mean for the construction sector moving forward. 

The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) and a number of unions including the CFMEU have been working to keep the industry informed and up to date with the latest information, and have been lobbying to ensure that the health and safety of workers is cared for, while working to keep the industry functioning as an “essential service”.

What the ban on Open For Inspections and Auctions means for off-the-plan

The off-the-plan and development industry is agile and forward-thinking, having developed virtual inspections and offered appointment-only display suite viewings for many years. Off-the-plan has always provided buyers with a less-stressful, auction free alternative to secure high-quality real estate in sought-after areas, meaning this restriction will not affect off-the-plan. For these reasons, the industry is the advantageous position to seamlessly continue offering these services to prospective buyers. 

To search for developments currently under construction that you can virtually inspect, click here. 

What the changing conditions mean for buyers 

The stimulus measures and recent interest rate cuts are making it a very affordable time to buy and build. The projected strong recovery of the industry when life inevitably returns to normal will be bolstered by easier access to finance, which is particularly good news for the residential sector. 

Off-shore investment will be down, lowering competition for local buyers. Improved lending conditions may instill further confidence in those looking to purchase an off-the-plan property over the next few months.

Off-the-plan offers purchases the unique opportunity to put down a fraction of the final cost of their home initially, often with no additional money required for many months. This is a great way for buyers to secure a home now, and not have any financial obligations until the COVID-19 pandemic has passed. 

Thanks to increased buyer protections, changes to the Sunset Clause and the off-the-plan duty concession, purchasers can enter into an off-the-plan contract with peace-of-mind, even in these times of uncertainty. 

The ability to arrange by-appointment or virtual display suite inspections also provides off-the-plan with unintended advantages during this time. 

What the lockdown and social distancing measures mean for workers

As outlined by Danni Hunter, CEO of UDIA, earlier this week, “[the building, construction and development sector] is a big part of the economy, but it is also a considerate and understanding part of the economy,” indicating the sector’s willingness to work with government to ensure the ongoing health and safety of staff, tenants and the wider community. 

In a joint statement with a number of unions, including the CFMEU, UDIA Victoria asserted that their primary concern is the health and safety of workers in the building, construction and development industry, and industry leaders are going to great lengths to ensure the sector effectively adheres to the social distancing measures.


“We are also continuing to talk with government about the fact that not all building sites are the same,” Hunter continued. “The practical realities of maintaining social distancing can be achieved very differently in a land development, for example, when only a few workers are present at any given time.” 

This indicates the continuous work being done by UDIA and others to ensure the industry is kept open as an essential service – protecting the livelihoods of millions of Australians – when and where it is possible to maintain the required social distancing. 

The rules and measures being put in place are changing rapidly, stay up to date with any updates and market insights here.