An agent in the unusual position of operating across the England and Welsh border says many of his competitors appear to be contravening government guidelines on viewings, wearing PPE and other issues.
Joe Parry of Fine & Country Chepstow deals with properties on both sides of the border - but whereas in England the property market is in full swing, in Wales it is still effectively closed and unlikely to exit from lockdown until at least June 18.
Parry says there appears to be widespread confusion over whether his office - formally based in locked-down Wales - can service clients based just a short distance away, but in more relaxed England.
“I phoned our local police station and asked them where we stood, and their response was that it is all up for interpretation and some of the information provided contradicts itself.
“I asked whether one of our team members would be allowed to cross the border to visit a client, if they lived in Wales and need to visit a client in England, provided of course that all necessary precautions and social distancing measures were in place.
“There was no straight answer, they merely said that if our team member was stopped at the border, the consequences would largely depend on discretion of the police officer that stopped them at the time” says Parry, who has also contacted his local MP who - like the police - was unable to give a definitive answer.
Meanwhile Parry says he sees many of his competitors crossing the border, many without any COVID-19 safety guidelines on their websites.
“We hear of agents doing physical viewings without PPE as well as listing properties left, right and centre. So, I thought we are going to remain compliant but we have to make a decision, and that decision was to cross the border” adds Parry.
“We have tried to do our best to find a resolution, however, there was no guidance from our local MP or the police station. We have PPE and we have COVID-19 policies in place to ensure all parties involved are safe and protected” he adds.
And although Parry is seeing significant pent-up demand on the Welsh side of the border, including a substantial hit-rate for virtual viewings, he recognises that there is frustration at the market being locked down.
“Despite the lockdown restrictions in place, we have heard from buyers that other agents are taking them to view properties, however, we have refused. While we have received some backlash about our decision from some buyers, others appreciate that we are adhering to guidance” he says.