Coronavirus: Estate agents to reopen as England’s housing market returns

Restrictions on the property market and construction sector, designed to combat the spread of coronavirus, are being relaxed.

The new guidance for England includes the green light for property viewings in person and visits to agents for both sales and rentals.

The government said show homes can also open while removal companies – along with other essential market components – may also fully resume work.

It is estimated that more than 450,000 buyers and renters have been unable to progress their plans to move home since March.

It stressed the relaxation of the rules could only work under strict social distancing and other measures designed to combat the virus.

An industry agreement also allows a resumption of, and extended working hours on, construction sites – with a ‘Safe Working Charter’ launched by the government and the Home Builders Federation to enable more delayed projects to be completed.

Plans include staggered working times to ease rush hour demands on public transport.

Recent research by property website Zoopla said transactions worth £82bn had been put on hold.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Our step by step plan is based on the latest guidance to ensure the safety and protection of everyone involved.

“This critical industry can now safely move forward, and those waiting patiently to move can now do so.”

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, hoped the new Charter for construction sites would kick-start a vital sector for the economy.

He said: “Over the past week or so many house builders have commenced a gradual return to work, in a structured way that ensures the safety of its workforce and the general public.

“The industry sustains hundreds of thousands of people in numerous roles and associated sectors, boosting local economies across the country.

“A resumption of work will play a major part in helping the economy recover as well as delivering the homes the country needs.

“It should also provide the supply chain with the confidence it needs to accelerate its own restart.”

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