Agency closes offices for safety reasons and calls for tighter Covid restrictions

An estate agency in Norfolk has opted to close both offices for safety reasons and is calling for more stringent Covid restrictions, despite the government allowing the housing market to remain open business.

Jeff Cox, owner, Henley’s Estate Agents, told ITV News: “We just felt that we wanted to do our bit by closing our offices.”

The decision to keep the housing market operational and estate agency branches open, which is a key difference between the existing lockdown and the first one of March 2020, is an issue that has divided the property industry.

A petition calling for the government to close all estate agents during the current lockdown has even been launched. It has so far attracted almost 4,000 signatures.

Cox added: “We’re very very fortunate that we can work from home, we have all the faciltiies in place to do that.. Because of the massive increase of covid cases in the area, we’ve had to rethink things very very carefully to just make sure what we’re doing is absolutely safe.”

Almost 3,400 readers responded to a Property Industry Eye survey last week which sought to find out whether agents believed that branches should close and a ban introduced on physical viewings, valuations and meetings during the current lockdown.

Some 62% of the readers who took part in the poll believe that, given the threat posed by the new variant of coronavirus, it is unsafe for the government to allow agents to continue operating.

When asked whether the property market should remain partially open, as now, with branches able to open, socially distanced physical viewings, valuations and meetings, 62% were against the notion and voted no.

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23 Comments

  1. bestandfinal51

    So it appears they have locked the office doors, and continuing to trade normally from home. I guess they are conducting viewings etc. Hardly ground breaking stuff here from Henleys, as I would imagine many agents across the land are doing similar, but these actions should be applauded, Henleys are doing all they can to minimise contact whilst operating and providing a service to customers.

    For those who keep mounting their high horses calling for the industry to close, this is an example of doing what is available to do, in order to try and satisfy both sides of the coin by earning a living and keeping people safe.

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  2. AlwaysAnAgent

    The campaign to close the sector continues.

    Decision makers know that our branches have been closed for months and that we’ve been operating remotely where possible and using our offices when necessary. This silly campaign won’t achieve anything and we’re grown up enough to operate safely.

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    1. bestandfinal51

      AlwaysAnAgent “It has so far attracted almost 4,000 signatures” 
      Say no more. Hardly the whole population pulling down For Sale boards and dropping them into the nearest quayside.

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      1. AlwaysAnAgent

        Good point. 

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      2. Happy Daze!

        And they will be likely 4000 junior employees rather than business owners ……

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        1. Southcoast Agent

          Are they not allowed to be concerned? Does their opinion not count?

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          1. WatfordAgent

            It probably explains the massive turnover in the industry. Most junior negs do not get their voice heard.

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        2. aSalesAgent

          The owners of our agency do not work on the front-line; they do not visit properties or have to meet with buyers/tenants or sellers/landlords. I’m sure they’re pretty happy being cooped up in their large houses, whilst the rest of us – junior consultants, senior consultants, managers and support staff – are told to continue working from their respective offices and carry out viewings/appraisals.

          Whilst I would vote against ‘closing’ the market, I understand why a large number of people are concerned and I am of the opinion that agents should be working from home and only visiting properties where there is a significant opportunity to do business.

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          1. AlwaysAnAgent

            If you disagree so badly with your employer why not leave? Or, ask for unpaid leave? You obviously want your wage and you also want the choice of when and how you work. Tough luck.

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            1. smile please

              My thoughts exactly.

              Nobody is forcing staff to stay. Don’t like it leave. We still have bills to pay.

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      3. jan - byers

        The whole population hjas little interest in esatte agents

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  3. Typhoon

    How many of the  4000 people who have signed the petition have closed their offices? Probably none. The government has not legislated that you CAN’T close offices, so if they feel so strongly  they have free will to do so. Let them show their commitment to their cause and do so. They don’t need to petition the government to do it.

    They need to give some though to the thousands of people who “need” to move home and need help to do so.

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  4. James White

    Allowing and or enabling your staff to work from home is not only in the spirit of things it is the Government guidance.

    Responsible employers should be doing this where possible (not preferable).

    In part, we have closed our local office in solidarity with other businesses on our high street, so as not to be seen to be thumbing our nose at businesses less fortunate, who are our friends in our small community……

    Business, however, continues….

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  5. JonnyBanana43

    Getting a bit boring now PIE. In a previous article you say there are huge sums in fees and commission for the economy.

    Why on earth would the sector close? Much less risk moving house than going to the supermarket.

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  6. Dick Value

    Where is the evidence that offices are potent hubs for transmission? A survey using track & trace data showed that 74% occurred in the home with just 1.4% occurring across the hospitality sector yet all bars/pubs/restaurants were forced to close. Is the estate agency industry about to follow suit without ANY evidence?

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    1. WatfordAgent

      There is a pandemic. That is evidence enough. Any contact is a risk. We just need to decide what is a necessary risk. Shopping for essentials to feed your family, yes. Showing Mr and Mrs Smith a property they liked the video of for a slim chance of receiving an offer and some commission, no.

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  7. padymagic

    I think all agents should follow some simple guidelines

    A: When listing a property the owner should stay outside while the agent visits the property or in the biggest room in the house allowing for at least 3 meters distance (not 2)

    B: All viewings should be attended by the agent but owners must leave the house and the agent shouldn’t enter any room the applicants are in, better still the agent shouldn’t enter the house other than to open doors in advance so to minimise contact.

    C: Only applicants that can commit immediately to a purchase should view, buyers with a house to sell not under offer shouldn’t be allowed under any circumstances.

     

    Having said that how many agents are even doing any of these simple guidelines ?

    It’s the old adage “if the competition are open and doing viewings then we must do the same lest we lose market position.”

     

    Close the market (other than sales progression) for the next 4 weeks, keep yourselves and the NHS safe.

     

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    1. EstateAgent20

      If only all agents had this common sense. You are so correct in saying it’s all about competition and market position. Where I work, it’s very much business as usual, office open, no working from home, showing people who aren’t even on the market around houses. Apparently we must keep busy and mustn’t risk ‘losing business’ from working from home.

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  8. JamesDB

    I think the comments on this post just highlights that us Estate Agents we will never all agree on something… whether we are owners or staff.

    Each to their own  and all that eh…

    Happy Wednesday

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    1. KW

      James,

      spot on and it is a shame. This is why we are being taken advantage of by all these companies and portals. That saying united we stand divided we fall springs to mind.

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      1. JamesDB

        How very true KW… Very true indeed.

         

        Hope wherever you are, you/your business is good though

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  9. Eyereaderturnedposter12

    The number of people who ”call for stricter/tighter measures” still bemuses me (most of all, those who opt out of ‘blind faith’ or blind acceptance of VERY dubious data, to impose detrimental measures upon themselves)…

    For two reasons:

    -The exists NOT ONE credible study/working example that demonstrates the efficacy of ”lockdowns”, curfews or other, on total mortality or infection rates (or indeed any merit at all, where trying to curb viral infection.

    -The UK (relative to measures taken globally, by other nations) has imposed some of the most draconian/heavy-handed set of measures (and continues to do so). Clearly these measures have worked, as the UK (if the figures are to believed- which seems to be the key driver and justification used by those who call for stricter measures) has the highest death rate per million people (!!!), IN THE WORLD …so lets have more of it…Brilliant.

    Switch off the news for a moment, open your eyes, and look at both sides of the coin.

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    1. Dick Value

      Well said.

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