The government has confirmed that estate agency offices can stay open during the latest phase of the pandemic ‘in all four tiers’, two days after The Negotiator asked for a response.
Until now civil servants and Ministers had only advised that estate agency staff ‘can continue to work’ following Boris Johnson’s Saturday night TV address without revealing where, when or how.
Governmental advice had also not included agents in its list of high street retail shops allowed to open – forgetting as they always do that estate agency branches are neither offices nor shops.
The updated advice also asks that agents should:
- Agents should ask whether any party is showing symptoms or has been asked to self-isolate before going ahead with any viewing, or visits to offices.
- Ask visitors to their branches to wear face masks.
- Wear masks during viewings, valuations or appraisals.
- Strongly advice potential buyers and tenants to complete initial viewings virtually online.
- Not drive anyone to viewings.
- Ensure sales and rental contracts are flexible to accommodate disruption caused by varying restrictions being introduced in different parts of the UK.
- Clean keys before handover.
- Ask clients if they have arrived into the UK recently from one of the countries not on the exempted list.
The government has also said all other professionals within the housing market are free to go about their jobs including visiting properties. This includes conveyancers, surveyors, trades people and even EPC inspectors.
But despite the generous treatment of home moving, buying, selling and renting sectors by the government, as we reported today some agents are baulking at keeping their offices open, particularly in Tier 4.