The housing market recovery is being “killed off” by the coronavirus outbreak with viewings down 50%.
The claim was made in a report on the front page of yesterday’s Telegraph Business and Money Section.
It said that “thousands of estate agents” have been put at risk as coronavirus chokes off the housing market recovery.
The story quotes Mark Hayward, CEO of the NAEA, as saying that there has been a “marked reduction” in viewings over the last ten days.
He says of agents: “Cash flow is critical. If they have been experiencing a tough time and times toughen even further, there may well be some casualties.”
However, housing analyst Henry Pryor threw off the gloom in a tweet yesterday, saying: “I’ve not witnessed this nor have I heard estate agents mention it. I viewed 19 properties last week. Looks to me like a most unhelpful sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.”
He added: “50% collapse in property viewings apparently . . . I’ve not seen anything like this, have any other agents witnessed this kind of drop off?”
But one agent said that viewings are indeed a concern.
Rhys Williams said: “It’s absolutely relevant and has been mentioned at least once a day to our office.
“It’s entirely irresponsible to assume tenants and vendors are happy with random applicants [traipsing] through their homes. Duty of care.”
Some agents are utilising virtual tour technology. For example, RedDoor Homes in Kent has produced a video tour per property: individual viewings are bookable per time slot just as though they are ‘real’ viewings, with a member of the sales team ‘attending’ each one.
Meanwhile activists group Acorn has launched a petition calling for a rents holiday for tenants ill with the virus or in isolation. The petition, which has attracted over 5,500 signatures, also seeks to have rent arrears in those circumstances not counted in eviction proceedings, and calls for an emergency freeze on all current Section 21 and Section 8 procedures.