Although Lee Wheatley has sales and rental deals in the pipeline – with one property waiting to exchange on since March – he’s had more enquiries about lettings than sales recently and isn’t convinced there’ll be much movement in sales short-term, particularly among families with children.
He tells The Negotiator: “There are a lot of people worried about their kids going to school – will they really be interested in moving at the moment?”
Wheatley, who is branch manager of Century 21 in Bedford, believes giving agents the green-light to open up at short notice is unrealistic as few would have everything in place.
“I don’t think we’ll be ready to let the general public in this week but we’ll be getting a plan together ready for next week.”
He thinks working practices could change as agents now can’t tout for business and door-knock to raise a branch’s profile – there might also be a return to the time when it was common for agents to work evenings and Sundays.
Says Wheatley: “You can’t have people meeting, while sellers will need to stand in the garden, and agents will be using masks and gloves.”
The four other branch staff have been furloughed and Wheatley isn’t yet sure if they’ll all be back in the office immediately. “Do you end the furlough and bring them back and try to grab something or let it play out to see if things change?” he asks.
On a softer note, Wheatley says the days of children choosing their bedrooms during viewings are over, as agents and buyers adjust to new ways of working post-lockdown, according to one branch manager.
“Kids often used to come along with parents but that won’t happen now,” predicts Lee Wheatley, at Century 21 in Bedford, who’s unsure how he’ll conduct appointments in the short-term. “If someone is self-isolating, how can I realistically visit them for a valuation? An agent would worry about catching something.”