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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Agents “forced and pressured” into unsafe viewings - claim

An online petition wants all agents’ offices to close during the pandemic.

Keeping them open means agents feel "forced and pressured" to conduct unsafe viewings, it claims.
Posted by an individual named Vikram Shah, the petition wants the government to close all agents’ offices as their work is ‘non-essential’.

It reads: “I would like to request that the Government and Parliament reconsider their decision for Estate Agents to remain open during lockdowns and within tier 4. It is difficult for them to follow guidelines and they are not ‘essential workers’.

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“The most valid reason to action this is to protect and save lives. Keeping estate agents open, which allows several households to mix during viewings is going against guidelines and is neither safe or sensible. 

“Agents are feeling forced and pressured into conducting viewings whilst this should be the last of their worries especially as there is now a new variant of the virus. 

“Agents should work from home and do virtual viewings and only do physical viewings where absolutely safe to do so.”

So far it has only just over 1,000 signatures: at 10,000 signatures the government is obliged to  issue a written response and at 100,000 signatures the government has to consider (but not necessarily follow through with) a debate. 

You can see the petition here.

  • Stephen Lane

    So, in a nutshell, someone has started a petition to pressure the government into making the regulations exactly what they are now.

    You should be doing virtual viewings where possible, and only carrying out physical viewings where safe and essential. That is already the guidance

    What a literal waste of time.

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    Agents like urself may feel safe and have good portfolia of sale. Agents that dont feel safe and dont good portfolia have different view. Especially small agents like us who are hardly getting n business at all due to lockdown.
    We sre going work taking health risks and not even covering 50% of expense. Y would we want to open

     
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    This man speaks for himself. I don’t feel pressured or unsafe because we are following all guidelines, in the main doing virtual viewings and all viewers are being told of the rules for physical viewings to take place. He is more than welcome to close his office but don’t involve us!

  • Graham Davidson

    The problem is that safe and essential are subjective. If a FTB with an AIP wants to view a property and is currently happily living in rented and not yet given notice and not moving area, is that essential? I would suggest not but suggest just about every agent would arrange a physical viewing for this FTB.
    If a local HTS NOM enquired about a property and wanted to view and would place theirs on the market with you if they liked the property, I suggest most agents would do the viewing as the want the listing (chance to chain build) yet it would not be essential.
    People are putting business before safety.

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    Agree well explained

     
  • Martin Shock

    Whilst taking every possibility to ensure everybody's safety why not shoot a virtual tour of the property? I know several several sellers who were happy to receive a Ricoh 360 camera from an agent and produce a virtual tour with Ricoh's DIY mobile mobile app software. After shooting the tours which took around 30 mins they could drop off the camera at a prearranged location or mail it back. The real estate agents access the virtual tour links and post them online. Nobody now needs to visit the property and so everybody wins.

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    Nice advert. Is anyone actually buying houses they haven't physically seen?

     
    Martin Shock

    At Surrey One, thank you. There's still about 10 percent of buyers buying from a virtual tour. We also know that people are viewing online tours to eliminate homes and then just visit their finalists in person.

     
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    I would not rent or buy without physical viewing . Virtuall viewings does not compare to n thing like physical viewing im sure u would agree

     
  • David Bennett

    I was impressed with one of my agents who only yesterday, refused to conduct a viewing, because when advised ahead of the visit, that a mask should be worn, the woman refused. Thinking she was calling his bluff, he finished the call. She was also travelling 30 miles, from Bristol! When will people just accept the spirit of the rules, rather than try to find ways around it. Noticeably, normal traffic on the roads. Lockdown, what lockdown? Come on Govt, lets have a proper lockdown for say, 4 weeks, so we all know where we stand. Agents should have enough fat to live off, from the fantastic autumn market and can concentrate on getting the existing deals over the Stamp Duty Holiday line.

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    • N W
    • 14 January 2021 08:41 AM

    Some argue its the bosses forcing their staff out...…. and that may be the case in some limited cases I'm sure. However, my personal dealings with dozens and dozens of business owners around the country (working together sharing best practice and helping each other keep their staff safe) is that every single one has put the safety of their colleagues first.

    I am a business owner, my staff felt nervous about carrying out any external appointments when we re opened on the 13th May. As a result I insisted they were office bound and made a point of carrying out every single viewing appointment and valuation personally for weeks on end (sometimes 13 appointments a day and working 12/16 hours a day but never arranging back to back appointments and following rigid guidelines) until they felt comfortable themselves about going out.

    We have had systems in place from day one on virtual viewings (since the 13th May) and followed the guidelines on 2 meters, checking buyers ability, minimising travel and risk and following all safety protocols since day one to the extent that I feel far safer at work (in control of who I will meet, when I meet them, how I meet them and refusing appointments with anyone that doesn't do as we have requested for an appointment) than i do/actually am just being out in the street going to get some shopping.

    I am at least delighted that most major supermarkets are now insisting that people should wear masks (long overdue) and perhaps they now need to be stricter on numbers again (controlling access was fine at the outset but seems to have slipped in most) but in reality, you are far more likely to pick up covid from buying some veg than you are from viewing a property - Fact!

    Yes we have an issue with the spread - it seems to be the general public at large doing what they want to do (some completely flouting the rules because they can). However, if you want an appointment with any of our multiple offices...… if you don't attend with PPE, if you don't do what we ask on safety then I don't care how far you have travelled.... you don't even get over the front door and you can pack off home.

    There is a risk with what we do. However, our industry has generally got a far better handle on safety and reducing risk for themselves , the public and the country at large. Those that haven't need to be fined and closed and reported by their staff but the real spread of this is nowhere near the property market

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    How did you manage 13 appointments in one day without them being back to back?

     
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    13 appointments in one day cannot be done in a COVID19 complient manner, further that number only goes to show the poor quality of the appointment which is niether good for seller, buyer or the agent involved. Definately a quality control issue here!

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    • N W
    • 14 January 2021 12:13 PM

    quite easily if you know what you are doing, have clear process's in hand, verify that each buyer viewing is under offer and checked with their agents (good structures in place), not all appts were with buyers, some were taking photos of properties externally and working a 14 hour day to accommodate to ensure there was time between any appointments to make sure each property was dealt with in a covid compliant manner.

    Realistically that was an extreme example but even so most days i was carrying out 5/6/7 appts a day (but always 10/12 hour plus days) to make sure that we had all the bases covered.

    Our teams are split (at home and at work to minimise risk and to ensure that if anything happens we have team 2 to take over - my closest member of staff in the office with me at the moment is about 40 feet away and i have just had clients turn up to the office even though they have been told we do not take office appointments and no one allowed in the office and despite them being frustrated they couldn't come in we still refused them entry)

    Systems, diligence, double checking everyone's reason for moving and why, masks on, sanitising everything, covid health check forms, temperature checks of staff daily etc... its not difficult to do this job properly and safely if you have your act together

    No control issues at all this end but then again we have had robust structures in place from day one

     
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    I've had people complain this week because they can't view - even when they don't even have their own house on the market! The situation is manageable, its down to the agent to manage safely, which is not difficult, particularly in big houses.

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    • N W
    • 14 January 2021 10:54 AM

    There is an assumption here that all 13 appointments were viewings or that it was done in a normal working hours day (my day was between 7:15 am and 9pm. None were back to back - properties were close together - some were viewings (with buyers already checked to be in a proceedable position ie we had checked that everyone was under offer with their agents), most were empty properties, some were me taking photos as we had only just opened back up. Most days i was carrying out 5/6/7 appts a day but again having to work 12 plus hours a day to accommodate sanitise anything that people may have touched on their way around etc). Everything is in a covid compliant manner (my family think i am OCD over my attention to covid at work and at home and every time i go out)

    Glenn Taylor

    Good on you, you dont have to explain yourself

     
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    I know of an office where the MD is working from home, whilst his staff man the office. There is no underlying health backstory there at all. This is disgraceful - he should lead by example.

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    • N W
    • 14 January 2021 12:01 PM

    Business owners should always lead by example putting their staffs safety as a priority along with their customers - totally agree

     
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