Buyers ‘travelling hundreds of miles to viewings’ despite Covid rules

The BBC says some buyers are taking advantage of lockdown rules to travel hundreds of miles to view homes.

The story suggests that because the housing market is still open and viewings are permitted – so long as they abide by government guidelines – people are taking advantage to have ‘days out’ away from local areas.

It says the problem is worsened because of pressure on buyers to beat the stamp duty deadline and because few people accept virtual viewings as an effective way of seeing a property.

The story quotes Paul Le Bas, regional director of a family-run estate agency in Hayle, Cornwall, asking the government to tell people not to travel to estate agents outside their local areas for non-essential purposes.

He turned down one person who wanted to travel about 400 miles from Bradford to look at a potential second home.

He tells the BBC: “We’ve taken the view as an agency that if it’s just for a second home we don’t deem that as essential travel, you can do that when lockdown’s been lifted.”

“We weren’t prepared to put ourselves at risk or our clients at risk. They got a bit shirty with us.”

Roly Matthews, director of an independent agency in Elmbridge, Surrey, said most of his clients want in-person viewings and estate agents have had to “feel their way a bit as to what they think is essential or not”.

The BBC report claims that he knows some agencies are not screening their clients, giving members of the public “a mixed signal” and said the government would be “sensible” to consider further restrictions.

The story continues: “One estate agent who works in Yorkshire, who asked not to be named, said she knows colleagues who are ‘ready for a complete nervous breakdown’ because they are being asked to book more in-person viewings and valuations.

“She said people are travelling hundreds of miles to view properties ‘because they can’ and some often ‘don’t social distance’ when they get there. She said many virtual slots go unused because people want physical viewings.

“I was in one the other day and there’s a three-year-old that comes and sits next to me… bringing me a doll. How can you say ‘back off?’ You can’t,” she said.”

“I just think it’s bonkers. I want to earn money, I want to earn commission, but not under these circumstances,” she added.

You can see the full BBC story here

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has told the BBC the housing market has been allowed to remain open as it creates “jobs as well as homes”. 

“But all parties involved must continue to play their part in reducing the spread of the virus, by following our guidance to be Covid secure,” a spokesman said.

Written by: Houseladder