Estate agents may regularly rank low down veracity indices, but there may be an upside to the coronavirus crisis in the form of positive press for the sector.
Writing in The Spectator, business editor Martin Vander Weyer urged readers to spare a thought for estate agents amid the pandemic.
He said: “The suspension of the residential property market is disheartening for those who were hoping to buy a first flat or new-build house this spring.
“But spare a thought also for estate agents, who are usually well back in the queue for public sympathy but are nevertheless a familiar part of our high-street fabric, their windows and websites feeding the national aspiration to home ownership that also fills so many hours of Kirstie-and-Phil television.
“With Government urging completions to be deferred, mortgage lenders tightening their terms, viewings and removals impossible and shares in the bellwether London agency Foxtons down by half, the whole sector is now in what Niraj Shah of Bloomberg Economics calls ‘an induced coma’.”
He predicted that prices could fall once the pandemic passes as distressed sellers are met with pent-up demands.
It is not just The Spectator that has been recognising the impact of the virus on the sector.
The Daily Telegraph featured a comment piece from Stuart Challis of The Acorn Group, where he describes the feeling of being furloughed.
He said: “I feel completely removed. It’s a passive position I’m not used to and it’s disorientating.
“Ultimately, I’m not allowed to do anything to help the business I care so passionately about. The crisis of 2008 was all hands to the pump, now it’s all hands away from the pump.
“I just want to get back to work again.”
Local papers are also full of innovative ways agents are still helping people view properties, such as marketing videos being made by Bishop’s Stortford-based Mullucks Wells, as reported by the Bucks Free Press.
The mainstream press may always like a bad news story but could coronavirus provide turning point for some of the negative coverage?