5 mins read

Updated 19th May 2020

The outbreak of coronavirus has placed unprecedented strain on the property industry. Over the past couple of months headlines have touted an effective ‘freeze’ of the market, and there have been widespread suggestions that huge cuts in the value of property will come.

But the beginning of May has brought the hopeful beginnings of a recovery. Government guidance in England has changed from ‘Stay Home’ to ‘Stay Alert’. Estate agents are again allowed to conduct in-person valuations and viewings. The housing market in England is coming to life again.

There’s still a long way to go. Agents in Wales and Scotland are not yet allowed any in-person contact with vendors. And, viewings and valuations in England are far from normal. Strict cleaning social distancing and cleaning practices are necessary, but mean home sellers and potential buyers are much more cautious. It will take time for the property market to be fully back on track.

We’ve been regularly talking to estate agents all over the UK to see how they are feeling in the context of the coronavirus crisis. This time, for our third survey, we spoke to 117 agents.

Here’s what they told us:

Concern has dropped

Over the past two months, we’ve asked agents several questions about their levels of concern regarding the impact of coronavirus, both on the property market, and on their businesses. Consistently agent’s responses showed high levels of concern.

In March, 56% of surveyed agents reported the maximum level of concern (10 out of 10) about the effect of Covid-19 on the property industry as a whole. Only 3 respondents rated their concern as less than 5 out of 10.

Just days after government guidance has changed to allow estate agents in England to begin to get back to work, this level of concern has taken a dip.

Estate agents now report their concern about Covid-19’s impact on the property market at 7 out of 10. And, only 15% now rate their concern at the maximum level.

Agent Concern

of agents said they were extremely concerned about the impact of the pandemic on the property industry as a whole.

When it comes to the impact of coronavirus on their personal business, agent’s reported a similar pattern. At the end of March, 50% of agents reported the maximum level of concern about the effect of coronavirus on their businesses cash flow. Now, just 19% would rate their concern about their businesses financial position this high.

The market’s back in action

When we last talked to agents, government guidance to ‘Stay Home’, forbade estate agents to undertake valuations and viewings. So we were surprised when 28% of agents told us they still intended to continue in-person valuations, even whilst the government’s social distancing measures were in place.

Now, (at least in England) this is no longer an issue. Agents are again allowed to undertake in person valuations and viewings, and our research shows overwhelmingly that estate agents are keen to get back to work.

Whilst before, 72% of estate agents were not undertaking any in-person contact with vendors, now, 89% told us they would be conducting in-person valuations (whilst of course following social distancing guidance).

Of the 11% that were not planning to start in-person valuations and viewings, some of these were agents from Wales and Scotland, where the ‘Stay Home’ measures remain in place. Others continued to worry about staff well-being and the financial viability of beginning to conduct viewings at this point.

This drive to get back to work is matched by high levels of expectation about the progress that will be made on properties already on agents’ lists. 96% of agents now expect some form of progress to be made on their sales during the crisis. A significant jump from the 75% of agents who said the same last month.

Sales Progress Prediction

of agents said they expected to make some form of progress on at least some of their sales during the crisis.

Measures to mitigate the impact are still in place

Over the past two months many agents took steps to mitigate the impact of coronavirus. By the end of April, over 90% of agencies had taken advantage of the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough their staff. More than half of the estate agents surveyed had furloughed over 81% of their employees.

Just over two weeks later it appears reliance on these schemes is reducing. Now, the number of agents who have furloughed over 81% of their staff has already reduced to 36%. Use of government schemes evidently still have an important role in supporting the property industry, however this drop in numbers furloughed reflects the start of the market reawakening as government guidance relaxes.

Estate agents have reacted well to the crisis

As part of a second survey we conducted with homeowners, we asked respondents to comment on how well they thought their estate agents had reacted to the situation so far. At the end of April, homeowners rated their agents at 6.1 out of 10 for their adaptability to the crisis. Now, this rating has increased to 6.6 out of 10. Perhaps this reflects the positivity of the market reopening, and agents’ ability to do more to support home sales again.

Read more about how homeowners are feeling about the current property market.

Our data-driven dashboard tracks the daily impact of coronavirus on the property market. Take a look.

If you need any support or further information we are happy to help. Get in touch with us on: 020 3608 6556 or email: hello@getagent.co.uk