Robert Jenrick’s announcement came somewhat of a surprise late on May 12 that estate agents were permitted to reopen. It meant an initial scramble of the directors, Paul, Gem and I, to get prepared for business, albeit not quite yet as we knew it!
Following Government guidelines and advice from PropertyMark, our governing body, we began the logistics of how we could action a return to work and some sort of normality.
Office workstations were remodelled, protective measures were implemented and the first team members who had been furloughed got the call to return to work.
Monday came and the first full week back began... and my word was there pent-up action. Even with our office doors closed to the public for the time being, we expected a slight surge of inquiries but the phone calls and emails came thicker and faster than anticipated with market appraisals and viewings filling up our diaries swiftly.
It felt strange after two months working remotely, but a relief that physical viewings and valuations were being carried out once again.
Anti-bacterial wipes, sanitising hand gel, gloves and face masks have become standard accessories in our briefcases, and social distancing is now the norm.
Homeowners kindly went out for walks or waited in their gardens, viewings only conducted with two adults from the same household who have shown no symptoms of coronavirus.
I am ever the optimist but my fear was whether buyers and tenants would start committing again, would sensible offers be forthcoming and could deals be secured? I need not have feared - five sales and six tenancies agreed since the lifting of restrictions reinforced people’s eagerness to move and confidence in the Torquay property market. Existing sales which had been on hold throughout lockdown could also now reach fruition.
The property market will inevitably face challenges ahead as we continue the lifting of restrictions and economy starts recovery but I continue to have a positive outlook for our beautiful Torbay.
I believe the need for professional, local agents, solicitors and financial advisors will be greater than ever.
Thankfully, we have many in Torbay.