IMPORTANT UPDATE: Auctions and open homes

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Auctions and open homes

31 August 2020

Following some confusion last weekend regarding COVID-19 Safety rules around open homes and auctions, REINSW met with NSW Fair Trading this week to interpret and clarify the Public Health Order (PHO) with them step by step; to confirm how it applies to the real estate industry, what is mandatory and what is a recommendation.

Tim McKibbin and Leanne Pilkington recorded an additional Keeping It Real video update on Friday 28 August to provide an update on the changes. Click here to view the video update.

Tim and Leanne were also joined by Matthew Whitton, Director Consumer, Building & Property at NSW Department of Customer Service, for a webinar on Friday to clarify the PHO in relation to real estate practices.

Click here to watch the webinar.

For a run down on the rules and advisories around open homes and auctions, read on:

Open homes

  • Open homes are permitted in NSW and are to be conducted under the PHO for both property sales and tenancy.
  • You can promote an open home and have people attend for the purpose of inspecting that property.
  • Due to the exemption in the PHO for outdoor gatherings, you can have more than 20 people attend the open home on the residential premises. HOWEVER, there is a cap of 20 people INSIDE the property.
  • A 20-person cap applies to all residential premises, irrelevant of size. We know how easily this virus spreads so we encourage you to exercise common sense and practice social distancing, particularly indoors. A common-sense ‘best practice’ approach is still 4 sqm per person. For units please be considerate of other owners and have procedures in place to keep them safe. There are no rules on this – it is common sense. Wipe down high touch areas such as lifts, door handles, etc.

COVID-19 Safety Plans

The COVID-19 Safety Plan is NOT mandatory for the real estate sector though it is considered ‘best practice’ so we recommend completing a plan and adhering to it.

Click here to download the template COVID-19 Safety Plan for auctions and open houses.

We recommend you set out the actions you are taking to satisfy the four key elements in the COVID-19 Safety Plan.

  1. Wellbeing of staff and customers
  2. Physical distancing
  3. Hygiene and cleaning
  4. Record keeping

Please note it is important to follow the plan and implement the action points.

Strategies you may consider for being COVID Safe:

  • Markers on the ground to illustrate 1.5m social distancing
  • Designated entry/exit points with one way in and one way out
  • Hand sanitiser at entry and exit points
  • Masks and gloves are NOT mandatory but should be made available
  • Regularly wiping down high touch areas
  • Minimising physical collateral such as contracts, brochures and business cards.

Do you need to register your business as COVID-19 safe?

As mentioned above, it is not mandatory for you to register your COVID-19 Safety Plan nor to register your real estate business as COVID-19 safe. Please note that NSW Fair Trading DO NOT have the power to fine businesses for not having a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. HOWEVER, it is recommended you register your COVID-19 Safety Plan for the following reasons:

  • You can access resources such as signage to promote COVID-19 safety
  • You will receive updates automatically if the information or requirements change
  • It demonstrates professionalism
  • It offers customer assurance.

COVID Safety Marshals

COVID-19 Safety Marshals are not mandatory for the real estate industry however it is a good idea to install one if you are expecting a large crowd to an open home or an auction.


There is not an exemption in the PHO for auctions on residential premises. If you are holding an auction at a residential premise you are capped at 20 attendees (excluding staff members and excluding the occupiers). This applies to auctions held indoors and outside.

Auction houses

It IS mandatory for auction houses to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan, however the plan does not need to be registered.

Members should remain vigilant that the NSW Fair Trading inspectors still retain the right to issue fines where the NSW Public Health Orders are NOT complied with, in particular in relation to social distancing at open homes and auctions.

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