Some estate agents are now receiving small business grants from the government, according to the Guild of Property Professionals.
Guild chief executive Iain McKenzie says: “Campaigning by The Guild and other industry players … is starting to bear fruit. The grants are going to be the lifeblood that see many estate agents through the next few months so we are pleased to see that our members have started getting payments within as little as eight days or less from the date of their application.”
One such Guild Member, Jonathan Waters from Foxhall Estate Agents in Ipswich, says that he was surprised by both how easy the application process was and how quickly the payment was made.
“We filled in the necessary forms, as I am sure most estate agents have, and sent it to Ipswich council on April 2. They replied saying that the money would be paid five days later, and on April 7 the £10,000 grant was in our account.”
And he continues: “It’s not every day that you get money from the council, so definitely a highlight in a period of lows. I must admit that I thought they would put in as many hurdles as possible, but that wasn’t the case at all. In fact, quite the reverse, they have made it as simple and fast as possible.”
Waters also says getting agreement to a £20,000 overdraft from his bank to get his company through the Coronavirus period was also surprisingly straightforward - although he accepts this may not be the case for agents dealing with other banks.
“The money was made available within 20 minutes of putting the phone down. So, in less than an hour we were able to secure a financial safety net for our business, if needed,” he explains - although he says the interest was a staggering nine per cent.
He adds that, like many agents, the business had a healthy pipeline of sales that has now been temporarily locked, so having £10,000 come in from the council, along with the additional £20,000 available, should help see them through for the next few months.
“We have around 32 sales running at the moment, with all but two indicating they still want to go ahead and move. This is largely attributed to the fact that one of the staff we haven’t furloughed is our sales progresso … whose position has now become one of the most important in the business” says Waters.
And he continues: “While we have always attached a high level of importance to the need of a dedicated person in the role, it is even more vital now. With every agent finding new business very thin on the ground right now, she has been communicating with all parties and reassuring them during this uncertain time – a crucial element at the moment.”