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‘Agents need job retention scheme extension’

Estate and letting agents need the government to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme past the end of May for the sake of their livelihoods.

That was the warning from Jon Cooke, group chief executive of epropservices, parent of The Guild and Fine & Country.

Cooke said: “With a large number of staff furloughed and salary costs greatly reduced, many estate agencies have been able to hunker down and ride out the storm for the short term.

“However, during this month, many businesses will be looking at their financial situation and making the decision whether they will be able to keep staff on their payroll beyond the end of May.

“That is unless the government extends the job retention scheme, a decision that would be essential to a large segment of the industry.”

He went on to say that while constraints on freedom of movement could be lifted as we head into the summer, it will take time for the economy and the property sector to bounce back.

Cooke added: “Unlike other sectors such as pubs, cafes and restaurants, that should see a relatively fast recovery once restrictions are lifted, the sentiment-driven property sector will take longer to find its feet and will need more support from the government.

“While it seems that the majority of agents’ transaction pipelines remain intact, delays caused by the lockdown will mean that it will take a while before those transactions are completed and the revenue streams begin to flow once again. If restrictions are lifted on 1 June and transactions resume, it will only be late summer that agents will start to see the fruits of their labours.”

“There is no doubt that the government has already been crucial in helping estate agents and the economy tread water during the crisis – but if the taps are turned off, the industry and the property market will take a substantial knock.”