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Graham Awards


Buyers ‘travelling hundreds of miles to viewings’ despite Covid rules

The BBC says some buyers are taking advantage of lockdown rules to travel hundreds of miles to view homes.

The story suggests that because the housing market is still open and viewings are permitted - so long as they abide by government guidelines - people are taking advantage to have ‘days out’ away from local areas.

It says the problem is worsened because of pressure on buyers to beat the stamp duty deadline and because few people accept virtual viewings as an effective way of seeing a property.


The story quotes Paul Le Bas, regional director of a family-run estate agency in Hayle, Cornwall, asking the government to tell people not to travel to estate agents outside their local areas for non-essential purposes.

He turned down one person who wanted to travel about 400 miles from Bradford to look at a potential second home.

He tells the BBC: “We've taken the view as an agency that if it's just for a second home we don't deem that as essential travel, you can do that when lockdown's been lifted.”

"We weren't prepared to put ourselves at risk or our clients at risk. They got a bit shirty with us."

Roly Matthews, director of an independent agency in Elmbridge, Surrey, said most of his clients want in-person viewings and estate agents have had to "feel their way a bit as to what they think is essential or not".

The BBC report claims that he knows some agencies are not screening their clients, giving members of the public "a mixed signal" and said the government would be "sensible" to consider further restrictions.

The story continues: “One estate agent who works in Yorkshire, who asked not to be named, said she knows colleagues who are ‘ready for a complete nervous breakdown’ because they are being asked to book more in-person viewings and valuations.

“She said people are travelling hundreds of miles to view properties ‘because they can’ and some often ‘don't social distance’ when they get there. She said many virtual slots go unused because people want physical viewings.

"I was in one the other day and there's a three-year-old that comes and sits next to me… bringing me a doll. How can you say 'back off?' You can't," she said.”

"I just think it's bonkers. I want to earn money, I want to earn commission, but not under these circumstances," she added.

You can see the full BBC story here.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has told the BBC the housing market has been allowed to remain open as it creates "jobs as well as homes". 

"But all parties involved must continue to play their part in reducing the spread of the virus, by following our guidance to be Covid secure," a spokesman said.

  • icon

    Surprise! Surprise! The General public are a bunch of Cee U Next Tuesdays and are only interested in themselves. It's why we suspended accompanied viewings when lockdown was announced and specifically made clients who wanted to continue doing their own viewings confirm so in writing. Despite the guidelines saying people should be in a position to proceed in order to view, people just lie.

    • N W
    • 21 January 2021 09:36 AM

    People Lie all the time...... its what they do when they want something (unfortunately).

    Having said that if someone wants to view through me I need proof they are under offer (yes we do check), if they have nothing to sell and are cash we require written confirmation that they are not dependent on selling, they have cash funds and or a mortgage agreed and that their viewing is essential.

    Are most of my competitors doing this? (no, and in truth they have paid lip service in my view since May 2019). Are we continuously told by buyers "well other agents aren't asking us for all this information before we can view" - yes. Has it lost me some business? yes most probably but it is what it is and we still sell double the number of properties of both our in town competitors put together.

    If anyone turns up to view and they don't meet our requirements on safety, PPE etc then i don't care if they have travelled hundreds of miles, they don't view.

    Are people travelling down into my area (not actually viewing) and if stopped (which is highly unlikely as I haven't seen a copper for a few months....) then have the excuse lined up ready to say "I'm moving here". Yep, most probably.

    Not a lot can change that. The general public lie to each other every single day

  • icon

    The actions of the estate agent is at the heart of this story. We dont' have to show anyone over anything if you don't want to - use your common sense for goodness sake!. We regularly turn down 'out of area', 'house to sell' buyers whom request viewings - in fact we may well continue this practice in the future too, its quite therapeutic and time saving. Also if a buyer then claims to be able to buy without selling - doing a let to buy/buy to let - we reject those too because 99% of the time it's bullshit. Vendors completely understand the pandemic position and that lives are at risk. It's weak minded agents pandering to buyers requests and not managing their businesses properly.

  • Matthew Payne

    Pressure on buyers (viewers) to beat the stamp duty deadline? That ship sailed a long time ago for most. If the average transaction time was 19 weeks before the pandemic, why do people think it halves to 9 weeks during that pandemic when supply chains are bursting at the seams with many unable to deal with yet more new business?

    Surely this is a qualification issue alone for agents who want to limit the impact of virus as well as simply improve their productivity. Their usual 80:20 criteria, plus onward chain, plus is the stamp duty saving a primary motivator/dealbreaker for your purchase. Viewings for the right few, not the wrong many.


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