Copy of Correspondence to Minister Peter Burke
11th March 2021
Dear Minister Burke
Further to your email in connection with the Level 5 property viewings and inspections please find an email from the 3 bodies IPAV, SCSI and the PSRA. I hope this is something like you require.
If you could examine our points below and discuss with the Department of Housing and please help us all to get back safely to property viewings and inspections after the 5th April.
We have seen from the recent Banking and Payments survey of the 9th March, 14,404 Mortgage Approvals for last Quarter of 2020 up over 25% on the same period last year. This figure alone has put agents under serious pressure to view properties.
• We appreciate the significant public health concerns arising from the new COVID-19 variants and the need to limit mobility. However, through adherence to both the Joint Sector Protocols and the PSP Guidance for Living with COVID-19 19, PSPs and valuers have proven their ability to safely conduct property transactions with no known COVID-19 outbreaks attributable to the sector.
• It would appear that the property sector and construction sector are outliers with regard to COVID-19 restrictions as they are the only sectors that are subject to restrictions over and above level 5. Given the intrinsic linkages between the construction and property industries and further given their unique alignment with regard to the additional level 5 restrictions, it is vital that the lifting of the additional restrictions on both is concurrent. By lifting these low risk sectors, this would reduce or eliminate the reliance on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment for up to 67,000 people in the construction and property workforce.
• Despite the non-legally binding status of the current guidance, there is widespread adherence by PSPs. However, due to the limitations on PSPs conducting property viewings we have anecdotal evidence of many vendors and potential purchasers taking matters into their own hands and conducting viewings which are not in adherence to the protocols and therefore pose a much larger public health risk. There are a number of reports where purchasers are approaching sellers to view properties, therefore by- passing the estate agent who are following agreed Protocols to manage COVID-19 transmission risks.
• Other than COVID-19, housing supply is the single biggest issue that must be addressed by Government and the limitations on viewings are having a significant impact on supply. The additional restrictions over and above Level 5 guidance is having a severe impact on housing supply which in turn is leading to froth house price inflation. Given the restrictions on PSPS, many vendors are withholding property from the market, meanwhile the pent up demand that was evident once the sector opened in June 2020 has continued to grow since the implementation of the current restrictions.
• Selling properties online is not a practical solution for end-to-end purchasing. Sales that are happening on line are sold because the purchaser knows the property exceptionally well prior to COVID-19 or a new condition ‘Subject to Viewing’ is inserted into sales contracts. It is likely that many properties that have been ‘sale agreed’ by this online process, will not proceed to closing and therefore the property will need to be remarketed for sale.
• We believe that in line with the current cautious easing of restrictions the re-instatement of Level 5 restrictions where restricted viewings of properties are in place, allowing viewings by one party or two people from the same household is appropriate. This level of restrictions on house/apartment viewings worked effectively pre the current restrictions and ensured the safe engagement of agent and prospective buyers/renters when viewing properties. In allowing this level or restrictive access to viewings of property will enable the commencement of the safe re-opening of the sector.
Pat Davitt CEO, IPAV.
Shirley Coulter CEO SCSI.
Maeve Hogan CEO PSRA.
Pat Davitt FIPAV REV MMCEPI
129 Lower Baggot Street
T: + 353 1 6785685
“The Voice of Auctioneers & Valuers in Ireland”