Frustrated estate agents in Leicester have vowed to get through the UK’s first local lockdown by focusing on virtual viewings and redeploying staff.
A spike in infections in the city means all non-essential businesses are now closed in the lockdown zone where face-to-face viewings are on hold for at least the next two weeks.
The Negotiator spoke to two Guild members in the city to find out how they felt about the lockdown and, unlike their colleagues elsewhere in England, how they are coping with a closed housing market – for the second time.
Aston & Co
Aston & Co has two offices – one of them inside the lockdown zone – but all except one of its staff live outside the zone so are able to work from the other office or at home.
However, MD Richard Aston says because 60% of properties on its books are also in the zone, his business will not be able to do any viewings there for at least two weeks.
Says Aston: “We had a fantastic spike in trade when we reopened last month, but we’re now very frustrated as we feel like we’re back to square one. We’re doing the best we can – during the last lockdown we took an enormous amount of calls.”
Newby & Co
Another Leicester agent, Newby & Co, had a “tremendous June”, according to boss Kevin Newby (left) with good levels of sales and listings, but he’s just had to cancel three viewings as 50% of his area falls within the lockdown zone.
“We’ve been offering clients the opportunity to do virtual viewings and can provide people with an estimate valuation if they upload a video from their phone,” says Newby.
He’s still optimistic that the business can thrive, as Newby & Co sold four houses through virtual viewings during the previous lockdown. Newby adds: “It’s frustrating, but people’s health has to come first.”