Last week saw the cautious reopening of estate agents in England, but, as with every other business re-opening, there are strict regulations in place.

“I think a lot of the public think we will just be opening our doors,” says Andy Morris at Andrew Morris Estate Agent in Bridge Street, “but if you walk down King Street, Broad Street and Bridge Street, you’ll find that people are working from home or behind locked doors.

Before they can fully reopen their doors, Andy says “We’re having to install screens on desks, ensure we have hand sanitiser for staff and the public and be able to guarantee social distancing measures are in place.

“When we went into lockdown we were probably as buoyant as we had been for many years. It came as a shock, but we had three or four months sales already negotiated and we have managed, where solicitors were local, to get many of them completed.

“The market is down at the moment because it’s a confidence thing. But it’s early days to know where it’s going.”

Drops in value will, Andy believes, be far greater in big cities, but “Herefordshire is a ‘staircasing’ market, where people buy a one-bedroom home, then move on to a two-bed and so on. Providing you buy and sell in the same market values will remain the same.”

He adds that the biggest threat to the property market is the loss of jobs, which in turn affects house moves.

“The signs over the first three or four days have been good. Both Craig and I have diaries full of appointments, but we will be very very careful about how we go about the job. We will be doing everything according to government guidelines. We have a lot of people who want to see houses, and as long as they are genuine enquiries and have sold, or sold subject to contract, owners will allow a viewing, but we will ask vendors to go out and we will do the viewings.

“We will be asking people not to touch anything in the house, then we have to tell the vendors to wipe all door handles when we leave, or leave doors open so that we don’t have to touch them.

“We have to be mindful that Covid-19 has not gone away, and social distancing is a key factor in all viewings.

At Jackson Property, James Garibbo reports that staff are continuing to work remotely this week as they ensure that all the appropriate measures have been taken to enable them to open their office fully after next week’s Bank Holiday.

“From the calls we’ve taken this week and at the tail end of last week, I think we’re going to find the property market very busy locally.” James also reports, as does Alister Walshe at Stooke Hill and Walshe, a handful of enquiries from buyers in the Home Counties looking to relocate to Herefordshire.

James has already had many enquiries about a 12-bedroom property in Evenjobb (just over the border in Wales), though they all seem to be forgetting that Wales is still locked down .

“We do have to be careful about people coming into the area, and we have a questionnaire we ask them to complete. We have to do our bit to stop the spread of the virus.”

“The industry we left is not there any more. We were a front facing business with a lot of contact, but that has all changed.”

Alister Walshe and his team have also been working remotely, seeing around 15 sales completed during lockdown, and are now preparing to reopen, but, he says, “Not everybody is taking to the idea that if you want to view a house you have to proceedable. But vendors are loving it. You either have to have sold or have the money in the bank.”

“We will eventually get back to normal,” Alister believes, “but some of the changes have been positive and if they stay, great.” Like video viewings of properties, he explains. “We’ve been behind the times with virtual viewings, but all your properties need to be online.”

Alister thinks it likely that fees will go up locally – “we are behind the average” – but adds that he doesn’t see prices falling significantly. “People are still nervous, but there’s demand out there.”