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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Agents in England can return to work tomorrow!

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick is expected to announce tomorrow that the housing market in England can resume with estate and letting agents returning to work.

Previously it was the travelling to and from properties for "non-essential purposes" that was the key factor in restricting activity.

But an amendment to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020 published this evening means travelling can be undertaken for a range of purposes including, explicitly, dealing in property. The precise wording reads:

in sub-paragraph (f), omit the words “travel for the purposes of”;

(v) for sub-paragraph (l), substitute—

“(l) to undertake any of the following activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property—

(i) visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes;

(ii) viewing residential properties to look for a property to buy or rent;

(iii) preparing a residential property to move in;

(iv) moving home;(v) visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property;”;

A joint statement this evening from David Cox, chief executive of ARLA and Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark reads: “It’s great news for consumers and the industry that the housing market is being opened up and people can let, rent, buy and sell properties again. The new regulations provide clarity to agents and will allow them to deal with pent up demand from consumers. It’s also a step to reinvigorating the housing market and will be a boost to the economy. Safety of course will be paramount, and we would encourage everyone to ensure that they follow Government guidelines closely to protect others and themselves.”

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    Can’t wait for this news in Scotland

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    This decision will certainly be on the back of the CEO’s pushing the government into this decision, let me ask these people who will not be risking their own or indeed their family’s health by possibly being forced into going back to work right now. One of the other big issues is how many people will want to buy or sell a property given the circumstances bearing in mind they at home/already been made redundant/have no idea if they have a job at the end of this or have any idea what the lenders are going to do? Employers in our industry will now be wondering who they will have to either let go or hopefully keep on the furlough scheme if allowed on the basis that we are effectively being told to go to work again, very uncertain times for us plebs on the front line....

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    Nail on the head....

     
  • bill reid

    Can't see my family but am now allowed to value a house belonging to someone have never met and have no idea of their medical history

    The lawyers will be rubbing their hands with potential corporate manslaughter claims

    Badly thought out policy Boris

    Ali Baylav

    Agreed 🤝 @cavendishpropAB

     
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    We could go the way of the US where Trump is now changing laws to protect employers from being sued for failing to protect customers and employees from dying of Covid-19.
    What happened to a slow and gradual opening of the country with dates dependent on the R figure?

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    As an estate agent the biggest hurdle is going to be the confidence of the buyer and seller to visit and accept strangers coming in to their properties, especially if they are elderly or have any underlying health conditions

    This has been lifted for too early and glad scotland is taking a different approach to see how the virus is going to pan out in the next couple of weeks.

    I can understand the economy needs to get back on track but not at the sacrifice of lives

    Ali Baylav

    I agree Paul, safety FIRST please Boris. @cavendishpropAB

     
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    Well David Cox seems to have changed his tune from yesterday to today. This is the statement I viewed yesterday “We’re waiting to hear back from officials about their plans for guidance for the sector or at the very least updating the guidance that was issued a few weeks ago,” says David Cox, Chief Executive of ARLA (left).

    “I have had many emails from agents asking if the generic advice issued so far allows them to open branches or do viewings, inventories, appraisals or photography – but the detailed advice just isn’t there yet from government despite repeated requests from us for clarification.

    “I know there is huge pent up demand and the industry wants to go back to work, but we don’t know the answer to these questions at the moment.”

    But Cox is clear that agents who undertake accompanied viewings are taking huge risks – pointing out that a negotiator could see four of five different people at different properties in just a day, a clear chance for the virus to spread.

    “People forget that you can have the virus for several days without presenting symptoms and that’s the danger,” he says. “You could be passing it to dozens of people so it’s not a good idea.”

    But Cox says that unaccompanied viewings of empty properties where keys are left next to a doorway while the agent waits in the car could be acceptable now, but that a virtual viewing would be a better idea.

    “I sympathise with people who say we need to get back to work and get the economy going again, but look at Italy and Germany where an early release led to cases spiking once more.”

    That's a bit different to the above joint statement.

    Sorry, where is the specific guidance to us the agents who need to keep, staff, vendors and viewers safe. Have I missed that bit?

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    As an owner of a small independent I can only wish that this was as good of news at it makes out but sadly it is quite the opposite!
    I feel like this is a cop out by the government to basically put the ball back in our court and save on furlough and hope the economy recovers however the sad fact is the government can say it’s ok to now work, open, view, validate and photograph all it wants but who exactly will be letting us in? Who will be calling to book? I’m sorry but until I’m confident there is actually work to do then my staff will have to stay furloughed !

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    Agreed, but as the owner of a small independent estate agency, can we continue furloughing staff, or will the government say, 'sorry, you CAN open now, so they must return?!

     
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    Lazy, lazy, lazy. It is perfectly possible to reopen, survey, value and show houses in a safe self distancing way. Read all of the literature available. I wonder how different the attitude would be if the comfort blanket of furlough was not there.
    The good agents are back, they are busy and they are generating sales - join them or lose.

     
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    Totally agree Sharon

    Sellers and buyers are still worried about this virus and exposure to it, they will
    Not wanted strangers into their property and possibly bringing in the virus

    This is a goverment that has opened up the economy when the uk has the highest deaths in Europe and people are still dying. They are two/weeks too quick and a second spike will send us back to square one

  • sue diffey

    I've just received an email 10.28pm from a vendor wanting to know when I will be arranging viewings on her property, never mind about Health and Safety procedures or full guidance notes

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    As a director of a small independent agency, I'm reading these comments with great interest. Although we are all keen to return to our businesses, surely it shouldn't be with a risk to our (our families), our colleagues and our customer's health??

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    A distraught ex-employee rang me this evening after her boss informed her she must start work at 9am tomorrow. She has no professional childcare and is unable to fall back on her elderly parents of obvious reasons. The swift decision to allow agents to open their offices is arse about face, and hands a get out of jail free card to bosses who care more about their competitive edge than the well-being of their staff. To add insult to injury, the said boss has informed his staff that he will be working from home. Absolutely disgraceful.

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    I can't help but agree with the bulk of these comments, I think opening now is insanity

  • Keith Russell

    All well and good the government giving the green light to open, but where is the specifics in terms of details how agents are meant to conduct viewings, valuations etc? Is it a case of make up your own ideas or am I just not receiving this information as we are not part of a corporate organisation? Any guidance on where this is displayed would be gratefully received.

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    Hi Keith, I'm speaking to other local agents this morning and so far, we are all asking the same questions.... I believe the Housing Minister is going to outline the exact guidlines today? - Perhaps someone can clarify?
    We have a high number of viewing request to arrange but don't want to speak to our vendors until we know exactly what they / we / the viewers need to do, to conduct a "safe" viewing...??

     
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    I ca nnot believe money ix put above the safety of people! I for one will Not put myself my staff or my customers at risk! When you think one person can infect three one Agent could infect 8 people they could go on to infect 24 then 75 then 225 then 675 any one could be your child your parent of which 67 people could die leaving orphaned children or devastating loss of parents. Do Not KILL YOUR FMILY OR Friends.

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    would that be different if the government weren't paying the wages? of course it would. Perfectly safe methods of work are avaialable, government guidance is avialable the only thing missing is the positive desire to return. Lazy attitude wrapped up in glitzy paper.

     
  • Paul Barrett

    I'm afraid that for many EA jobs they are effectively in zombie employment.
    When furloughing ends there will be mass redundancies in the EA industry.
    This has been a long time coming.
    There are simply too many EA and LA for the property industry as a whole.
    There needs to be considerable consolidation.

    For those savvy EA/LA that are prepared to consider and have been engaging in differing ways of operating they will prosper.

    There is also of course the professional qualification requirements for EA/LA.

    But overall there needs to be far fewer industry participants.
    This will of course be very painful for those that find their roles redundant.

    It won't be their fault.
    But it won't be anything personal it is just business.
    This CV19 issue is of course that proverbial black swan event.
    It will though ultimately leave the industry a far leaner; meaner and PROFITABLE industry.
    Surely no bad thing!?

    This CV19 will be a catalyst for substantial changes in the UK economy.
    The EA/LA industry will be no different.

    A bit like in wartime when things that would usually take years to achieve are done so in months.

    The EA/LA will behave the same way.
    Changes in the industry will be fast tracked such will be the imperatives to do so
    Substantial homeworking is possible in the industry and will surely protect a business from inevitably future pandemic circumstances.

    New ways of working will be required and certainly this is not something to be sacred of.
    Rather it could bring new opportunities for those prepared to adopt new methods of working.

    So rather than doom and gloom even in light of a depressed market for those EA etc prepared to do things differently they will survive.

    But doing things the same old way is for the past.
    EA adapt or die!

  • Ali Baylav

    A bit too soon in my opinion all... And the fact that we are permitted to go into lots of UNKNOWN HOUSES 🏘 but not permitted to see parents and grandparents seems SO WRONG and actually UPSETTING. @cavendishpropAB

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