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Public confusion and anger rises over property viewings restrictions

Government guidance that agents should only allow viewings to those who are serious and 'likely to make an offer' is riling many people on social media – including Kirstie Allsop.

Nigel Lewis

property viewings

Government guidance that agents should keep physical property viewings to a minimum by ensuring those who request them have a serious intent to buy are beginning to cause confusion and some anger among house hunters.

The Negotiator has looked through hundreds of comments online and it’s clear that consumers are not aware that agents have been told by official guidance that: “Initial property viewings should be done virtually wherever this is possible and physical viewings should only be conducted where buyers are seriously considering making an offer on a property.”

Location, Location, Location TV star Kirstie Allsopp stepped into the debate to defend the industry following a storm of complaints on Twitter this week that agents were asking potential viewers for ‘unreasonable’ proof of purchase intention.

This included @KentishJane who said: “Estate Agents always pull these tricks, even before Covid” and @JillT from Hertfordshire who complained that: “My agent isn’t allowing anyone ‘not proceedable’ to view at the moment for obvious reasons!

Prove funds

“Aside from anything else they are on reduced staff and all viewings accompanied so don’t have staff or time for everyone. I’m ok with that, but having to prove funds, not sure?!”

Allsop replied that: “I have to say that this, while totally maddening for those in this situation, does seem reasonable. Problem is people often don’t jump till they see the next ship on the horizon. Eventually this will bung up [the] system.”

And Londoner @IslaFraser reported that her father was told he couldn’t view a property without proof of funds, complaining that this ‘seems overly cautious’.

But some agents would appear to be going too far. Richard Baker from Bromsgrove in the West Midlands, took to social media to complain that an estate agent had required him to complete a mortgage application with the firm’s broker prior to seeing a property.

“I’ve always felt agents should do more to ensure everyone has their ducks in a row. Forcing people to see an agent’s mortgage ‘adviser’ is wrong,” said Allsopp.

May 28, 2020


  1. The problem I see is that the second we question if viewers are “seriously considering making an offer on a property” we create animosity because we are effectively questioning the persons integrity. I can easily imagine defensive responses like “Of course I am serious; what makes you think I’m not?” or “Do you want to sell the place or not?” and we’re in the viewers bad books before they’ve even seen the property. I suspect this was dreamt up by an academic think tank. As usual, there is a way of saying things without rubbing people up the wrong way, but this isn’t going to be as easy as the academics think.

  2. Most agents recognise that the amount of time wasters just looking ,or just thinking of moving home has become totally unreasonable over recent years. They view homes because they can and not because they want to buy .We are not a form of free entertainment on an otherwise dull day. People go out looking at property as if they are just buying a bag of sweets from the local corner shop… nothing more serious than that. Covid19 will sort the wheat from the chaff for sure. We do need to protect our sellers at this time by focusing on serious buyers only and discatd the time wasters, however asking for proof of funds or a mortgage interview before viewing is a little extreme. Proof that a buyer is officially on the open market should be a minimum requirement …..

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