One of the few agents anywhere in the British Isles who has returned to something like normal working has revealed new guidelines showing how it is possible to do the job safely.
On Saturday, agents on the Channel Island of Guernsey were allowed to reopen their offices and resume selling and letting again; the new guidelines adopted on the island may be a model of how the industry across the UK could operate safely again once the lockdown and some restrictions relax in the weeks to come.
Matt Brouard, owner of Cooper Brouard agency, has worked with the island’s Civil Contingencies Authority, to draw up guidelines for the agency industry on Guernsey.
These allow agents to resume viewings, valuations and property inspections - but with key safeguards.
For example, his office is closed to the public but staff are allowed to come and go from the office and to conduct up to 10 appointments in a day.
Brouard has told the Guernsey Press: “The majority of our negotiators will be working from home, but we can have someone in the office and a range of negotiators and property managers who can collect keys and those sort of things can come and go from the office.
“We have to keep a detailed log of what we’re doing and who the people are we are meeting because Public Health is very interested in being able to trace who we have been in contact if there was a case [involving] people or the properties we work with.
“Only one of our negotiators can attend a viewing and they will be wearing surgical gloves that will be disposed of afterwards. The idea is that the owners would leave doors open as much as they could and keep the properties well ventilated.
“If a house has been vacant for more than seven days it will be more straightforward, but if it’s been inhabited and anyone in the household has had symptoms in the last 48 hours we couldn’t do a visit.”
The agency owner says viewings cannot be conducted in the house of a vulnerable person and no member of the household can be present during a visit.
Since the guidelines were revealed on the island, there has been an influx of interest from clients but Brouard admits some vendors and buyers are still wary of going ahead.
“We’re aware that people are nervous and that’s perfectly sensible … We’ve all got to stay safe, particularly people with underlying conditions.”
However, one aspect of the transaction process remains unresolved on Guernsey - how removal firms can operate given the requirement to work closely together shifting heavy furniture.
The island’s government - called the States - has yet to rule on this.