Majority of agents do NOT support decision to allow branches to stay open

Thousands of concerned agents are reluctantly going into the office today following the government’s decision to keep the housing market open for business, a new poll shows.

Almost 2,700 readers responded to a Property Industry Eye survey yesterday which sought to find out whether agents believed that estate agency branches should remain open in the event that tougher Covid-19 restrictions were introduced.

Some 68% of the readers who took part in the poll, which closed at 7pm yesterday, an hour before the PM made the new lockdown announcement, believe that, given the threat posed by the new variant of coronavirus, it is unsafe for the government to allow agents to open up.

The decision to keep estate agency branches open, which is a key difference between the upcoming lockdown and the first one of March 2020, is an issue that has divided the property industry, as illustrated by some of the comments posted on EYE over the past 24 hours.

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68 Comments

  1. smile please

    67% employed vs 29% business owners.

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    1. Typhoon

      Soon to unemployed if we have to shut down!

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    2. mmmm

      Sad to say, but true.

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    3. James White

      Business owners that have failed to plan, failed to invest and train, and fail to trust their staff with home-working…….probably the same business owners with no females on their BOD’s too………..

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      1. Bless You

        Shut up. Thx

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        1. James White

          How very kind of you to say so, thank you x.

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          1. jan - byers

            Evidence – or woke ranting?

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    4. levinyl91

      Who are these snowflakes? If you don’t need to work to feed your family then please stay and home and mind your own business! You do you! I cannot afford to not work , I cannot afford to work at home because I cannot work from home with a 1 year old running a mock around my house.

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      1. Edgar

        Obviously everyone’s circumstances are different whether that be having someone vulnerable at home, children who work well remotely, a stay at home partner, 6 months wages in the bank, struggles with mental health, or indeed take the view that we should just “man up” and “get on with it”.
        Employers need to be more understanding and flexible, and use the technology that is available.

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      2. surrey1

        I know a snowflake who has died of Covid, out there trying to provide. Feeding his children going forward likewise pretty tough.

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    5. Joseph60

      Yes, but they have a right to be paid, even if they don’t do anything!  Who wouldn’t want a 7 week paid holiday on furlough.  Sooner we get rid of all the Snowflake thinking in this Country, the better.

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  2. AlwaysAnAgent

    The ones that don’t want to open should stay at home, watch Netflix and eat popcorn until they explode.

    I’ll continue to work until the law prevents me from doing so.

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    1. Bless You

      So brave. Brings a tear to my eye. 

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    2. Quags

      Yes, of course that’s all everyone working from home does.

      You’re truly a hero, I shall clap for you on my front doorstep along with that self righteous muppet smile_please

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      1. AlwaysAnAgent

        Why are you still clapping on your doorstep? You need to get a grip.

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        1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

          AlwaysAnAgent,

          I recall some months ago, I posted a comment about personal responsibility and the idea that if people are able and willing to work, they should be allowed to do so, unhindered.

          It is possible that you don’t remember, however you branded me a ‘libertarian’ (and yes, I absolutely am…and proud to be called one) and suggested that you hope I do not hold a position of responsibility, as my views were a danger to others. You were quite vitriolic, in fact.

          At that time, you seemed entirely supportive of those ”watching Netflix and eating popcorn until they explode”…

          Has the wind changed direction for you?

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          1. AlwaysAnAgent

            By definition I’d say we’re both libertarians. My views on a number of issues have definitely changed in the last 12 months and some have softened whereas other views have hardened, possibly out of disappointment in the behaviour of others. I l like to read or listen to the view of others – yours included. What I don’t like are the  1000s of budding Chris Wittys who attempt to bend  the rules to suit themselves, and very badly in my opinion. Agents are permitted to trade and we should all be grateful for that.  

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            1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

              A balanced and fulsome response.

              I remain a firm believer in personal responsibility (albeit the current Government appears to want to continue to treat the population of this country as infants who are unable to make decisions for themselves).

               

              I also still believe this country is being led down a very dark path (for the reasons I have alluded to in many other articles on PIE…)

              Have a successful day!

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        2. Quags

          Sarcasm appears to be beyond your grasp, along with common sense, morality and decency.

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  3. ResiMan

    Top 4 essential reasons to leave your home in lockdown:-

    1) Your house is on fire

    2) Medical emergency

    3) To buy provisions to keep you and your family alive

    4) To view a property you most likely won’t buy

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    1. Typhoon

      Ha ha, it looks ridiculous put like that.  But it’s also the  reason why the industry has to get a whole lot better at interviewing, advising and guiding buyers  to view the right propeties 

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      1. David Clark

        100% agree but we’ve had people who wanted to travel 50+ miles, don’t have their property on the market and have no alternative means of purchase who got stroppy when we said it probably “wasn’t the ideal time” for them to be looking at properties out of their area that they couldn’t buy anyway.

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      2. ResiMan

        Agreed – although we have been barraged by what I now term as “recreational viewers” who want to view anything and everything. With very little else to do, viewing a few nice houses can be an excellent day out for some people. It is counter-intuitive for an estate agent to try and dissuade viewings but that is what we need to do up to a point. The trick is trying to weed out the tyre kickers and not turn away the serious punters. Easier said than done!

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    2. Property Ear

      Bang on Resiman. How can opening be justified? I’m a business  owner.

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      1. BestInTheRoad28

        But you don’t have to.. You can work from home?

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        1. ResiMan

          Hard to do viewings and valuations from home

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          1. MillicentBystander

            ResiMan – If you are indeed a business owner, you can choose whether or not to open / trade.

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            1. ResiMan

              Thanks for the advice! Don’t get me wrong, I am delighted to be able to remain open and trading, I’m just pointing out that at a time when the country is meant to be staying at home it seems peculiar that we are allowed to carry on as normal. I never realised quite how vital to the nation us humble estate agents are. Perhaps people will start clapping us on a Thursday evening?

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              1. gingerninja

                It does seem very strange indeed ResiMan. Perhaps as Estate Agents we have an automatic immunity to CV19? I’m also going to assume that as we are now obviously considered as critical/key workers that we will be close to the front of the queue for receiving the vaccine?

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              2. Simonr6608

                I never realised quite how vital to the nation us humble estate agents are.   And that’s the point we are, housing is central to the UK economy, when you think about the cross over of different sectors with just one house sale such as Estate Agency, conveyancing, surveyors, removals, van hire, gardeners, general maintenance, builders, furniture, DIY, electricians, electronics is it any wonder the government aren’t keen to shut it down. 

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          2. Michelle Killoran

            There is so much technology so you can do viewings and valuations from home in a professional manner. Please do look at what has come out to support your business.

            As agents, we need to open our minds and change our mindsets to what we can offer our clients and help them change their mindsets.

            We should support each other and not attack each other.

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  4. Ric

    EA’s to be next in line for Vaccine as now identified in official Government legislation as “workers whom are critical to the National infrastructure”

    Me mam will be sooooooo proud.

    Stay safe EA peeps… (oh and get ready for the influx of valuations for people bored, sorry STUCK at home with squat intention of moving)

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  5. JonnyBanana43

    You don’t have to go to work guys….

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    1. surrey1

      Very generous of you to bank roll us, Jonny. 

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  6. BerkshireAgent

    Does it make any sense that we are allowed to operate during a lockdown? No

    Was I jumping for joy when I found out we were? Yes!

    I’m not a business owner, but I run an office, we are so lucky that our industry hasn’t suffered like some, when we easily could have been as nobody NEEDS to move.

     

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    1. James White

      Some people do neeeed to move – to be nearer to elderly parents or vice versa, for job relocation or simply to find work….
      Agents’ offices do not need to be open.
      With the right investment over the last few months, every agent could now have home-working as standard, for times like these….or for simple flexible working for the benefit of their employees.

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  7. AD

    Just work from home – it’s simple!

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  8. bestandfinal51

    As the agents, do we not have the opportunity to dictate the ‘rules & requirements’ we expect from our sellers, buyers and viewers.

    If you do have any concerns, simply do not open your doors, but then good luck explaining that to those sellers who recently instructed you. Whether a business owner or a mere minion, you have the right to dictate what is to be expected from the customer. I am confident that many sellers will not want viewings at this time anyway. As for the applicants, its our job to vet them correctly for the protection of ourselves, colleagues and clients. Lets be honest, the opportunity to deny a viewing request from somebody not yet on the market, has been great!

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  9. Agent1973

    In my mind it needs to be essential movers only, clients who are already sold or on the market etc. Without clear guidelines the door is wide open for potentially bored people to take advantage of this and come from all over to view homes..

    I work along on the south coast, we have holiday home buyers looking for their second homes by the sea, is it right for them still to visit? They come from all over the country looking for what isn’t essential in my mind at the moment however, its the government’s fault, there needs to be clear guidelines for estate agents. Lets hope this doesn’t last to long so we can make 2021 a great year!

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    1. Certus

      Propertymark guidelines are for only proceedable buyers who have viewed a video and clear intentions to buy. I would suggest that when they say ” while we are there can we view some others” means no clear intentions.

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  10. RedRebel

    Agents need to make their own decisions about working from home or office. Better qualification of people wanting to view will remove recreational viewers. I am moving currently and have to move so support the view of staying open

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  11. Concernedagent

    I don’t want to be closed as there are plenty of sales in my pipeline that I want to see through to exchange/completion. However, I cannot understand how it is OK for me or my colleagues to meet up with strangers and show them around other strangers’ houses?! I agree we need to carry on working but viewings shouldn’t be happening.

    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/564530

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    1. Michelle Killoran

      I understand where your coming from but as an agent, there are so many ways you can still do face2face viewings in a virtual manner in a cost-effective way. So much has changed in our industry in the last 3 months. We all need to look at how we open our minds to seeing what is out there. 
      Stay safe x 

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  12. Edgar

    I suspect there’s a lot of estate agency workers out there today who are confused. Obviously a lot of lobbying going on from the donors of the Conservative Party.

    Clearly agents need to be able to operate to keep things going, particularly to get all the stamp duty/summer sales over the line. But there has to be a sensible balance.

    Only fully qualified, motivated, proceedable buyers should be allowed to view.

    All office-based staff should be trusted to work from home. The technology’s there, use it.

     

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  13. watchdog13

    It’s hard to imagine that agents haven’t set up operations for this exact situation. The possibility of a lockdown has been on the cards all year.

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  14. Certus

    In May, before booking a viewing we asked for ID and AIP to demonstrate seriousness before we booked anything. Applicants complied but as more agents in the town did not do this  – it got harder to insist and we could only maintain it into July. It was good though, and we generated many mortgage leads and quality business from it.

    When regulation finally arrives – stricter qualification applicants should be the norm.

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  15. andrew1503

    ‘ Smile Please’ got it bang on. 68% employees v a few diligent staff and employers.

    What else would you expect. Get furloughed stay at home and do nothing to help your employer stay afloat.

    Employers should be taking notes. I am and have been for most of last year.  And, it’s not always the staff that you would expect to help who actually help out.

    Anyway also difficult to close if you are the only one in your High St closing. Makes you look like you have financial issues! You might well but you definitely don’t want to be advertising it.

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    1. Quags

      As an owner I disagree with that, people want their jobs.  A very small percentage will take advantage of working from home, but most value being employed and understand the money has to come from somewhere.  It’s quite easy to know what your staff are working on, even from home.
      I couldn’t care less what the competition does.  We will clearly explain why the physical office is closed and what we believe is a moral duty to help stop the spread from one of the few industries which are perfectly placed to do exactly that.

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    2. Edgar

      If you can’t trust your staff, why are they still working for you?

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  16. Property Poke In The Eye

    Whatever decision people make.  Just keep positive.

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  17. majortom1

    Surely the point is that you continue to operate but do not work in a team/huddle  of people in what sometimes is a tiny office mainly on one floor/one kitchen and not being cleaned!

    One of your staff gets this killer they probably all will so will their families. I dont think we should stop operating at all-but huddled in an office makes no sense. Intelligence and being solution conscience surely is the best policy.

     

    Oh-and if those in the ivory towers want their front line staff to work in an office they should be forced to do so as well-maybe answer a few phones and show the team how its done at the same time ????.

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  18. WatfordAgent

    We have an open house today. 15 minute intervals for each client however the agent doing the viewing will be mixing with 15+ households within a few hours. Is that safe?

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    1. gingerninja

      According to the governement, yes it is! Crack on……………..

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    2. AgencyInsider

      Perfectly safe. Unless one person has Covid. In which case perfectly unsafe. You choose.

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    3. Jason Coombes

      Hi Watford Agent, Propertymark guidance clearly states no open houses, I appreciate this is a decision you need to make, but really you should not be putting yourself, staff/ colleagues, or viewers at risk. At best only one or two viewings 15 minutes duration with 15 minute spacings. Stay safe my friend!

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      1. WatfordAgent

        Well lockdown is not starting until midnight so we’ve been instructed to continue with the viewings by upper-level management. Thank you, you too!!

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    4. surrey1

      Pretty sure open houses are prohibited and have been since May, the NAEA issued guidance not to carry out back to back viewings.

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  19. Jason Coombes

    I agree with some of the points on here, I understand the frustration and fear from some agents that like me have vulnerable people in their family, how can it be a lock down if its business as usual? I find it hard to direct my staff to carry out viewings, when they cannot see their own families, however, if we operate sensibly, split teams up to minimise contact, be firmer with potential viewings, virtual where possible, as with inspections, use video meetings…Its no ideal, we could be out of work, offices could close, I for one cannot afford to be out of work, I will help my employer stay open for as long as I am safely & legally able to. I’d rather be at work than unemployed.

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  20. Dick Value

    Perspective is everything:

    The WHO advocated against quarantining healthy people, mass-testing and track & trace (& continues to do so).

    Since 19 March 2020, the UK government website states that COVID-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious disease (HCID) in the UK. It’s still up on the site.

    Average age of Covid death is 82+, higher than natural longevity.

    Fewer than 400 under 60 year olds, out of a population of c 42.5m in England, with no underlying conditions, have died from Covid. In the US, the CDC confirmed that just 6% of all Covid deaths had no co-morbidities

    Under statutory notification of infectious diseases, 13,874 Covid-19 infections were reported in the whole of 2020 in the UK

    The all-cause death total for 2020 is pretty much indistinguishable from any total from the past ten years

    Asymptomatic transmission, discounted by Fauci as far back as March, is not a factor for consideration

    Scientists are yet to find a single confirmed case of a teacher catching coronavirus from a pupil anywhere in the world

    The PCR test is now almost universally discredited and has created a casedemic (as one commentator stated: ‘The first pandemic in history which the state had to search for’)

    A virus so lethal, you need a test to confirm you’ve got it and a treatment plan consisting largely of self-isolation

    Lockdowns don’t work, we need shield the vulnerable (as we have always done) and open up the whole economy before it all – including the property sector – collapses beyond repair

    Lastly, always do your own research and stop being so petrified of a virus that has now been shown, from the collected data, to be no worse than a harsh flu.

     

     

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    1. smile please

      Not sure if the figures are correct or not but does sit in line with my thoughts.

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      1. Dick Value

        They are all correct and easily searchable/verifiable. Three people on here who don’t like facts. Strange.

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        1. Tcos

          You are very quick to “debunk” the situation and have a go at people that hold a different view to you. Have you considered other factors such as this is a new disease, the fact that a large number of people have died in a short amount of time, the fact that up to now there hasn’t been a vaccine? You cannot compare to flu which has a vaccine issued annually. The measures are in place to reduce spread thus saving a considerable number of lives. People are entitled to be concerned and worried and make choices about their lives based on that. Frankly it is not acceptable to assume that losing one life is reasonable.

          Your generalisation that people need to get over it is frankly rude and everything that is wrong with human society. So what if you don’t believe it is that serious, maybe you wouldn’t be bothered if a family member or friend suffered. Doesn’t mean others won’t. I found out yesterday that one of my landlords died a few days before Christmas due to Covid, he was nowhere near 82 years old and someone I have done business with for over 12 years. I was shocked and very saddened by the news.

          I suggest that yes your black and white facts may be easy to look up but actually there is another human element to this story which you sorely lack.

          Before you sling your insults my way, I am working as is my team under strict Covid conditions. My team are more important than the number of viewings we do but each and everyone of them wants to work and for that I will be forever grateful.

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    2. mywayorthehiway

      All well and good but we all know the real motivation around virus control in this country. The government ultimately control our health service. This being the case all anti contagious initiatives are based around protecting the NHS. Its not about lives and schools and jobs and blah blah, it about not overloading the NHS. And that is it.

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  21. Dana B

    As an agent in a small popular seaside town I am straight out of isolation and back to work as extended family have had COVID over Xmas. One of my colleagues has already had COVID. The majority of our appointments are related to second homes or bed and breakfasts which are becoming much harder to sell as due to closures they don’t have the books to show accounts. I don’t see this as “ essential business” right now. Helping locals to move that are already in the pipeline and are genuine I think is justifiable. We have had complaints as immediately prior to lockdown people were booking into holiday accommodation claiming they were here to view property on with us – which they weren’t!
    I can qualify buyers prior to viewings but I have to say people are not playing nicely at all – the same with repeatedly having to ask people to wear PPE properly on viewings. Stay safe guys it’s crazy out there!

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  22. JamesB

    naturally the majority of owners will vote to trade on and the majority of staff will vote to stay on Netflix duty, the poll outcome is no surprise.. there will be obviously exceptions on both sides but like it or not that’s the reality.

    If I was a member of staff with the option to stay at home on full or 80% pay I’d take it …

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  23. Rose

    I’m glad the housing market can continue to operate However, we had six people from six different households in our office yesterday, which is very worrying but our employer seems to think Estate Agents are allowed to open so that’s where we should be even though we can just as effectively work from home.

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    1. Dick Value

      Get a grip.

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  24. Neil Robinson

    We’re not being shut down because to do so means that the government would need to give us business interruption grants. Naturally they will want to keep payments like that to a minimum.

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