Enquiries soar as property market reopens but safety fears remain

A flurry of agency activity was reported yesterday as the property market was officially reopened but some firms are remaining cautious when it comes to viewings and protecting staff.

The Government updated its home buying and selling guidance for during the pandemic yesterday, asking agents to favour virtual viewings initially but stating that sales could be progressed.

Rightmove said visits were up 45% on Wednesday morning compared with a day before and enquiries to agents rose by 70%.

Agents also said there had been a spike in activity.

There is a lot of talk that values will be hit hard in the months ahead and while that may apply to some areas where job losses are sadly high we believe the sales market overall will hold up well and that average prices will even be slightly up this time next year.

The drastic steps the Government has taken to support the economy, coupled with record low borrowing rates and the huge bottleneck of people keen to move, will act as a glass floor under prices.

The ongoing supply deficit will also continue to support the market.

What’s vital now is that all estate agents adhere strictly to the social distancing rules and employ the highest safety standards to protect people viewing property, including through the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) where appropriate. Where possible, initial viewings should be virtual for the benefit of everyone involved.

The updated Government guidance said agents should encourage virtual viewings initially and then only allow physical visits by buyers with a strong interest, in which case social distancing measure must be followed.

The Government also said branches can reopen but visitors must make an appointment before entering.

Agents have been outlining how they will follow this, with some reopening immediately and others taking a more phased approach.

Prior to the viewing, all doors will be open and lights switched on, to help ensure that customers do not need to touch anything, and windows will be open to provide ventilation.