Concern over delay

Property and retail join calls for earlier restart

housing for sale

Properties cannot be visited

Pressure is mounting on the Scottish Government for earlier action on restarting the economy – or face a jobs oblivion.

Scottish Conservatives have highlighted weak Scottish home sales – 103 in April from 5,765 in March – as evidence for urgently helping the flagging property market.

The Scottish Retail Consortium has called for Holyrood to follow Northern Ireland’s example which is allowing shops that are ready to open safely to do so from today.

Yesterday there were similar calls from the leisure and hospitality sector to reopen venues as Crieff Hydro became the latest hotel group to warn of potential meltdown and hundreds of job losses.

The latest demands come as the RBS/NatWest purchasing managers index today shows Scotland had the smallest rebound in business activity since April among all regions and nations in the UK.

The Conservatives point out that during the current lockdown phase estate agents cannot open branches to the public or visit people’s homes for photography or to carry out market appraisals.

Surveyors are unable to return to work because they are not allowed to visit any properties.

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“If surveyors cannot access properties then they cannot be valued or inspected prior to sale which will almost certainly delay the ‘reopening of the market’ in Phase 2,” say the Conservatives in a statement.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has specifically stated that Phase 1 and Phase 2 are not clear enough in setting out exactly what estate agents and surveyors can and cannot do.

Graham Simpson, Scottish Conservative shadow communities secretary, said: “The decimation of the housing market over the last two months is well known, but the figures are still utterly shocking.

“There is no reason that property professionals cannot visit residential properties and follow social distancing guidelines, wear masks and gloves.”

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