Britain closes down: Shops shut, orders to stay at home – everything changes

Today, we start a new life.

Work places are closed, all shops other than food stores are shut, people have been told to stay at home. Gatherings of more than two people are banned. Do not meet friends. Go out once a day for exercise. Travel is banned unless strictly necessary. Even food shopping should be done as little as possible.

Social events are prohibited – weddings, parties, all except funerals.

Estate and letting agents are not ‘key workers’, according to the Government. Agents are therefore heavily restricted compared with, for example, NHS staff and those involved in food production who can still go out to work for essential reasons and who cannot work from home. However, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for full clarification.

He said: “There now needs to be clear guidance to employers and workers about which workplaces should close – and the Government must close the loopholes to give security to all workers, including the self-employed, as well as renters and mortgage holders.”

This morning Propertymark issued guidance that a civil servant at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government believes that estate agents are NOT essential businesses and should therefore be closed. More on this when we get it.

Guidance is also needed, and EYE is seeking it, on house moves due to take place shortly, and on letting properties due to be vacated. Michael Gove has this morning indicated on TV that moves can still go ahead if absolutely necessary, although people should stay in their homes if they can. We will try and get further confirmation and detail as soon as possible.

A full list of what can and cannot be done does not specifically mention estate agents. The list is here 

Last night’s statement by Boris Johnson means that some stories in today’s newsletter may, possibly, have been superseded. We say ‘possibly’ because there are still agency businesses albeit run from home and in circumstances when many of our readers will be wondering what on earth their business still is when there may be no viewings, no home moves and no income.

There are stories we have chosen not to cover, for today at least: job losses, office closures, agents’ plans to ‘furlough’ staff. All seem to have been overtaken by events.

All of us are affected, all our lives changed, and the future is invisible.

Just as so many of our readers are today doing, EYE will be wondering about our own future. There are no exemptions for anyone.

We do, however, plan to continue with what we hope will be an essential news service for an industry which, however depleted and however changed it may be, will still have a need to know. We will also try  to help, wherever we can and it may not be easy, with getting answers to practical queries that you may have as you adapt to these very different times.

Rosalind Renshaw

Editor

ros@propertyindustryeye.com

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20 Comments

  1. surrey1

    Keep up the good work PIE!

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  2. Steve_Smithson

    Hang in there Rosalind & team – you are appreciated more than you know!

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  3. J1

    Estate Agents are only important to Estate Agents until someone figures out that actually in certain instances we actually provide a vital service; such as when a boiler breaks down or a sewer is blocked and the tenant doesn’t have the skill set or authority to get them repaired.
     
    We need to stay home.  We need to protect our families.
     
    We also need a little help and guidance too. Ros, perhaps you can let us know when that real information arrives from government because as yet our governing and advisory bodies have not been able to secure it……
     
     
    Ps Ros, you are amazing thank you

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  4. JW

    We will advice this morning from Propertymark or similar on how to deal with ongoing business. We have a number of moves coming up in the next few days. Contracts signed, money paid….will removal companies, inventory clerks, cleaners be able to work? Almost certainly not.  Or do entire chains get out in hold.

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  5. MisterP76

    Here’s something I never thought I’d ever say but yes, I agree with Jeremy Corbyn…..strange times indeed.

     

    There seems to be some saying only key workers should be working others saying it’s ok to travel to work if you can’t, like me, work from home.

     

    I had empty houses to survey but am staying put until I know for sure.

     

    Would be interesting to hear others interpretations of this?

     

    Keep up the good work PIE !!

     

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  6. Cheltenhamproperty98

    Excellent post. Your work is so much appreciated.

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  7. Property Poke In The Eye

    Rosalind and team along with all PIE readers keep safe.

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  8. J1

    Michael Gove just now on Breakfast TV

    “Where possible people should stay in their current home”

    To paraphrase he also said

    “If transactions are advanced and people need to move then they can……….”

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  9. Mrlondon52

    Thanks Ros. PIE is an important ‘notice board’ for the industry so pls try to keep it going. Great work.

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    1. Property Ear

      Hear hear – Great work indeed. The bible for UK estate agency.

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  10. haveathink

    I’m I missing something ?  We are not a shop (the fact that you cannot get a rate should tell you this) but our classification is A2 professional services.

    We have to work away from home unless what we do is replicated at home.  A call to a client can be replicated at home – a viewing cannot be (provided all parties are ok for the viewing to go ahead and there’s no more than 2 people in the property at the time of the viewing).

    Until such time we are given exact guidance – speculation is not helpful, and we should work to specific guidance.

     

     

     

     

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    1. DASH94

      We can do a viewing as part of our work, but what about the punter?  Unless they’re a key worker – they shouldn’t be out in public.

       

       

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  11. scruffy

    Thank you Rosalind, and all your team.

    I echo the sentiment expressed earlier about clarification needed on a range of topics germane to estate agents during this crisis…..business rates, rent for office premises and how landlords are assisting, financial assistance for staff wages and how that is calculated e.g. effect on those with a substantial commission element and much else.

    Not least shall be the ability to continue in business by conducting appraisals and viewings, some of which can be organised at negligible risk to all concerned.

    Anecdotes about work-arounds would be welcome and should be shared.

    A purchaser recently showed his passport and supporting documentation to the solicitor he wanted to appoint. He did this by standing at the solicitor’s office window with the relevant pages open for verification, then posted through, photocopied, and returned through same letter flap. Job done !

    Continue the good work as best you can !

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  12. Commentator91

    Thanks for all you do, Ros and the PIE team.

     

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  13. Eric Walker

    Without an office and colleagues, industry needs PIE more than ever before. Information is key as is knowing we aren’t alone.
    PS – Ros, I have known you longer than I care to remember. You have been an inspiration to me as well as a good friend through some tough times. You have been a constant in the industry. You taught me why you shouldnt drink wine with a journalist in the Savoy and the dangers of having one as a Facebook friend. You and Nick have created one of the most valuable resources there is. Your industry needs you like never before. 
     

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    1. TipsyKoi1966

      Firmly agree with the above ⬆️.  Reply to earlier posts – MHCLG has given advice today – says that in-person viewings should not go ahead and you can decide who the in-person is, seems to suggest any human incl vendor.

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  14. smile please

    PIE and a number of Facebook groups are invaluable at a time like this.

    When there seems to be very little direction and guidance from the government,. Publications like this are helping literally thousands of estate agent owners across the country.

    No doubt some agents will close over the coming weeks or months. Those that survive are going to be changed completely forever.

    If any estate or letting agent has any question, no matter how small, feel free to ask for help on here. one of the many fantastic FB groups or Twitter.

    Wish you all the best in these incredibly uncertain times.

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  15. midlandred

    Waiting for information off ‘propertymark’ easier to read the newspapers

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/property/article-8146425/Home-moves-halted-lockdown-property-viewings-banned.html

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  16. GPL

    So, nearing 5pm, on the way home, pulled over in layby during my forest commute, playing in the background on the car radio, the daily government announcement…..

    Any other day….. I wouldn’t stop, the countryside would be a pleasant backdrop to my commute, I would get home.

    Today, it’s all different, phones/computers directed to home, website updated, clients reassured …..or not, notice on the door, turn the key …….that’s it? ……virtually empty streets in my working town, fuel car, a few things at the supermarket, a sold up on a property sold for 20% over the asking price yesterday, a board laid down on another as my client wanted it down…..

     

    Our Industry changed today. Yet, here I am, a phone call with a surveyor on the way home, a call to a client, my brain thinking/planning/hoping for the time when the wheels start moving, slowly.

    It’s sad. I’m sad. I’m thinking of all the footsoldiers in Our Industry who wonder  ……where does this all end up? I think of all the medical staff on the frontline, those worried, those vulnerable….. it’s an endless list.

     

    Yet, I have that thread of positivity inside me now…… looking ahead, it’s all we can do, looking back for learning lessons is fine however it’s how we move forward that matters.

    It’s within no one person’s power to change this game. We all need to pull together….

     

    I wish the folk of Our Industry (and everyone in this challenge) well ……and your loved ones, and I look forward to the day we turn the corner, all of us.

     

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  17. GPL

     

    ……and the cheeriest thing, now I’m home?

     

    The Wee Lady with the Mad Dog that I wave at most mornings, as I drive past her Cottage, a few miles up the road from me. I drove past her tonight and waved ……and then thought….

     

    I turned around and drove back, parked outside, her Dog went mental as usual …… I wrote my Home/Mobile Numbers on the back of my card and when she emerged, I handed her my card (at less than 2 metre arm length) and said “If you need anything from the shops or whatever, phone me, I’m working from home over the next 3 weeks or so (???) ,  I can shop for you and drop off…..”

     

    …….and she said “You’re a very kind Man” 🙂

     

    Wonder what she will think when she reads “ESTATE AGENT” on the other side of my card?! lol

     

    Even Estate Agents have a Heart 🙂

     

     

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