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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Agents split over viewings and office opening during Lockdown

Agents are sharply split over how they should operate during the current phase of the Coronavirus crisis. 

In a poll of almost 3,000 readers of Estate Agent Today, some 40 per cent - that’s around 1,200 - want to be allowed to undertake Covid-safe viewings and to be allowed to work from High Street offices which are appropriately equipped and open to the public through appointments only.

However, 28 per cent want agents not to work at all and effectively want the housing market suspended as it was for several weeks during the spring of last year; on top of that, another 22 per cent want agents only to work from home rather than from offices, and not to engage in any viewings whatsoever. 

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A further seven per cent want agents to work from their offices with appropriate Covid-safe precautions, but want those agents not to undertake any viewings at all.

Most agents have been scrupulous in ensuring they have abided by Coronavirus guidelines issued by the government and via Propertymark, outlining the ways in which offices should be redesigned to ensure social distancing and no spontaneous visitors; likewise, viewings have been restructured to abide by recommendations on limiting the timings and numbers of people attending a property, and how it should be ventilated.   

England, Scotland and Wales are now in forms of near-complete lockdown with people told to stay at home as much as possible between now and, in the case of England, mid-February.

You can see full details of the recently-announced measures for agents in England and Scotland here.

Details of the full lockdown provisions for England can be found here.

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    I'm definitely in the no physical appointments camp - I can't see why this can possibly be deemed as essential with the infection rates so high. Continue progressing sales which are already agreed, but close for any new business while the figures are brought under control. The message is to stay safe and not mix households - this cannot be effectively managed if viewings etc are allowed to continue!

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    It means tens of thousands of associated businesses cant claim grants you watch.

     
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    Who in their right mind would place estate agents under the ‘essential business’ banner? As much as I want to earn a living, I also would like to stay safe. Allowing people to view properties contradicts the point of the so-called lockdown. It brings people out of their homes, and into other people’s homes. Some comments in the past have stated that PPE and short appointments are the the answer. If this is so, why can I not pop round to see my family or friends for a 15 minute chat through face masks! This doesn’t make any sense at all.

  • Keith Russell

    Damned if we do, damned if we don't. complete rock & a hard place. In my personal opinion, it is down to government to set out the strict guidelines that our industry specifically operates and for us the agents to adhere accordingly. It should be that simples!

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    Here is my dilemma I am a small independent with just 3 staff
    Because the government insist we are ok to continue that means I get no financial support however the staff all have children as do I and need to be furloughed in order to educate their children leaving me no choice but to close and work remotely myself
    I think it’s a disgrace personally that they can say the market is open leaving portals like Rightmove and Zoopla the opportunity to continue charging full tariffs and all other overheads to pay without financial support
    With very little coming in I’ll be surprised if I make it through this third lockdown !

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    We can't visit a relative or neighbour but we're allowed to take strangers to strangers houses... Applicants are staying away or are trapped in their home countries and cannot fly to UK. None of my clients want me anywhere near them let alone in their houses with total strangers, so this latest government directive is completely moronic and puts the older agents' lives at risk. Yet another government clusterf**k.

  • Richard Copus

    Best excuse ever for people to be able to leave highly infected areas for a day out. Watch for a surge in viewings from out of area viewers whose properties are not on the market!

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    Only allow proven proceedable viewers.

     
  • Kristjan Byfield

    We will be making sure moves are 'essential' (as best we can) and will not be permitting physical viewings at any occupied/tenanted properties. Strict covid-safe conduct on viewings that can proceed. Staff are all WFH with a rotation to have someone at the office for key logistics, etc.

  • peter greenwood

    I personally think we can work well within the government guidelines and following covid guidance to do a small number of essential viewings. We will only conduct a viewing when applicant confirms non-symptomatic and wearing full ppe. Plus ensuring the property is empty, so there is no risk of anyone being contaminated and finally although gloves will be worn we ask applicants not to touch door handles etc and we as a final precaution we still disinfect on completion.

    Our office does not need to be open to do this and as all of our systems are cloud-based then it really can be business 'as near usual' as possible. If we cannot do any viewings at all, then stand fast property management we will grind the entire property sector to a complete standstill as it did in March. its not just estate agents, its conveyancers, solicitors, removal companies, utility companies etc who will all be closed down if we are. We have all learned a lot since the first lockdown, so we do know how to apply common sense and follow directed guidelines, I am in favour of the current government stand point to estate agents. We have been fortunate to not having to furlough any of our staff even our one sales person was kept busy doing other long term jobs in preparation for a market recovery.

  • Andrew Stanton CEO Proptech-PR    Proptech Real Estate Influencer

    Putting teams and the public at risk with a new variant of Covid-19 that is 50-70% more virulent, versus doing the business in probably two months time. I can not see that there is a choice? In 2020 despite lockdown 1.0 and 2.0 - same amount of property was sold ... the benefit of everyone staying at home for 6-weeks - less people will become infected.

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    It is ridiculous that we are being forced to put ourselves and our staff at risk. This variant is 70% easier to catch ..... a few weeks closed as in March is what is needed to drive infections down. Having the market open is giving Tom, Dick and Harry an excuse to leave their homes. We can ask questions to try and qualify people but don't always get told the truth - AND more importantly, you can ask somebody if they have symptoms but that doesn't mean they don't have Covid! Unless we give them a test before a viewing how do we know? PLEASE somebody address this ridiculous situation.

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