The industry seems almost back to normal.
Not the ‘new normal’ we spoke so much of a few weeks and months ago, but ‘normal normal’ - talk about transaction volumes, stamp duty, house prices. Like the good old days.
Except once in a while we’re inevitably dragged back to coronavirus - the pain, tragedy, worry, uncertainty and, of course, the heroism that has epitomised this year now ending.
Few estate agents ever have moments of life-or-death significance and most of us remain in awe about our health workers and vaccine scientists. But before 2021 dawns and we get on the treadmill once more, I’d like to remember some agency heroes of 2020.
There were so many who did amazing things: I mention just a few here but there were many more, and not mentioning them is no sign of disrespect. I’ve just selected some who caught my eye for going above and beyond what might be expected of them.
If these people had never done these voluntary acts, we should have thought nothing less of them. But they chose to do more than they had to - and for that we salute them as we look back on a year our industry, and our families, will never forget. Thanks to them all.
Doorsteps: The online firm was one of many offering to sell homes of NHS frontline staff for free. The agency’s young founder Akshay Ruparelia tweeted: “A massive thank you to NHS staff and all key workers. From cleaners to bus drivers to doctors - we owe you one.”
Property Brands Unite For Charity: London-focused agencies including Aston Chase, Beauchamp Estates and Wetherell, plus the LonRes group, campaigned to get second hand smartphones for patients on Covid wards, so they could be in touch with loved ones.
Savills: Corporate agencies have a bigger cushion than small independents but hats off to this international giant for donating over £800,000 to a clutch of regional charities relating to NHS projects for both frontline workers and the most vulnerable hit by coronavirus.
Agents Together: Met with understandable scepticism - this charity is led by Michael and Kenny Bruce - it’s proven to be a well-organised mentoring, counselling and advice service free-of-charge and tapping into agents’ worries about coronavirus and much more.
Rachel Johnston of Stacks Property Search: The creator of a Good Neighbour Scheme in a Northamptonshire village in 2019, Rachel’s scheme came into its own during lockdown. Neighbours helped neighbours with small tasks, from shopping to befriending.
East of Exe/West of Exe: These sister agencies operating across Exeter and East Devon responded to this autumn’s Marcus Rashford school meals controversy by writing to tenants offering a £5 per day Tesco voucher for each eligible child during half-term week.
Northampton Northwood: Director Samantha Denness offered the branch’s pool car to any NHS workers who needed it during the coronavirus crisis: the Fiat 500 was idle during the housing market closure and it was used by several healthcare workers.
Nicol & Co: This independent agency donated £100 to the NHS for every new instruction signed up in the early part of the crisis before Spring lockdown; the agency branches in Droitwich and Worcester donated to Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
CWB Property: This Medway agency, chiefly via flyers and a Facebook group, co-ordinated volunteer food deliveries, prescription pick-ups and Easter egg gifts. Owner Warren Bowman set up the agency in 2016 aiming to be community-focused - it succeeded.
Estate Agent Content Club: Run by Jerry Lyons and Wendy Reed this content marketing company has a fine charitable tradition through its ‘Karma Club’ activities: one lockdown good deed was getting £200 of bakery goods to care homes across East Sussex.
These were just 10 small examples of literally thousands of good deeds done by our industry in this most momentous and unforgettable of years. Next time someone criticises estate agents, show them this page…
Have yourself a Merry Christmas and a safe, prosperous and vaccinated 2021.
*Editor of Estate Agent Today, Letting Agent Today and Landlord Today, Graham can be found tweeting about all things property at @PropertyJourn