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Exclusive: Housing viewing furore agent stands by her decision

Sam Ashdown says guidance on viewings is still not clear and that the 'one off' viewing featured unusual circumstances which are unlikely to be repeated.

Nigel Lewis

The estate agent who started a fierce debate on Facebook about whether it is ethical or not to conduct house sales viewings during the Coronavirus crisis has said she stands by her decision to go ahead with the viewing.

Sam Ashdown, who co-owns an upmarket estate agency in The Lake District called Ashdown Jones with her son-in-law, says the critical comments that appeared on Facebook after she revealed a viewing over the weekend were understandable.

“I love a good rant myself and I’m happy to take on opposing opinions, but don’t tell me how to run my business,” she said.

Ashdown says the details of why she conducted a viewing for a potential buyer of a £1.25 million newbuild luxury home were not revealed by her original social media post, which she says was made to a private group of estate agents friends and not publicly, but then leaked out.

“The buyers had sold their home and moved out just before the Coronavirus crisis hit and had been living in a mobile home park where they didn’t feel safe, so they agreed to view the property as long as no one was put at risk.

Hand sanitiser

“They cycled there and I left gloves, hand sanitiser and the keys to the property by the front door while watching from a distance and then safely retrieved the keys when they had left.

“If the Prime Minister was sat opposite me, so to speak, I would be comfortable explaining my decision – no one was put at risk, a couple have been found accommodation and I’ve sold a home and made a £15,000 commission, which will help keep our business afloat.”

Also, Ashdown says the property belonged to a local business person who, she says, will use the cash realised from the sale to help keep his enterprise going.

And she says that the current government guidance is confusing. “An agent in the area was stopped while travelling to a viewing recently and fined £60 but the local police have said they’ve decided to stop doing that – so if they’re not sure what is and isn’t permissible, it’s obviously difficult for us too.”

April 7, 2020

3 comments

  1. From her own website: “Viewings are on pause but buyers are still out there. We’re taking viewing requests for when they are resumed again.”
    Unless, of course, you twist my arm!

  2. Could always try a second-income stream as a fiction writer, if things don’t return to normal. The epitome of self-interest above common decency, made worse by rationalising the decision. Shameful example.

  3. This isn’t an issue for me around the actions of the agent. She really did cover all bases here in my opinion and didn’t put anybody at risk. The issue is only around the potential buyers making an “unnecessary journey” Does a few weeks really matter? This is the lack of understanding around the current lockdown situation and that’s everybody’s responsibility to instil in themselves and others.

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