The estate agency market in Scotland can officially reopen from June 29th, the Scottish Government has said.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced yesterday that the country could start moving to phase 2 as part of the easing of its lockdown, which includes relaxing restrictions on house moves.
It will be a relief for agents after Rightmove data showed new listings have dropped by more than 90% in Scotland since its housing market closed.
New properties to rent have dropped by 40%, Rightmove said.
The portal said there was an uplift in people enquiring about properties in Scotland after the market opened in England.
Sales demand in Scotland dropped by 73% between March 24 and May 13, but it is now just 20% down.
Rental demand dropped by 50% annually but is now up 15% on last year, according to Rightmove data.
From Monday June 29, some indoor workplaces can re-open, including factories, labs and warehouses, subject to strict physical distancing, hygiene and health and safety guidance, but non-essential offices and call centres should remain closed.
All retail premises with outdoor entrances and exits can also re-open from June 29, which a Scottish Government spokesperson said includes estate agency branches.
Travel to a second home for essential maintenance is also possible.
Previously, as of March 31, aside from the work needed to progress “reasonably necessary” home moves, no home visits were allowed to take place by any other person or business in relation to anything connected with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of residential property.
Agents were instead told to use virtual viewings and to focus on preparing for the move to phase 2.
The Scottish Government hasn’t issued new home moving guidance yet but said in March that phase 2 would include letting the public visit branches, view properties, move home and undertake activities required for the rental or sale of that property.
Social distancing and health guidelines must be followed at all times.
Commenting on the changes, Paul Hilton, chief executive of the Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre (ESPC), said: “The relaxation of restrictions on house moves will come as welcome news to property buyers and sellers.
“This will help move property transactions in Scotland forward and increase market activity.
“We have seen rising numbers of viewing requests, Home Report downloads and valuation requests for a number of weeks, highlighting the growing demand to move.
“Our ESPC lettings team has also noted an increase in enquiries from tenants looking for a new rental home.
“Many transactions have been delayed in recent months, preventing people from moving into their new home. The relaxation of restrictions on house moves will allow many of these sales to complete.”