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First of all, I would like to start by wishing you a very happy 2021.

Last time I wrote to you we were preparing to enjoy some downtime over the Christmas period, spend some time with those dear to us, and looking forward to saying goodbye to 2020.

Last year was no doubt one of the hardest years many of us have faced personally and professionally, however, with the vaccine programme being rolled out, we will hopefully soon start to see a return to more predictable and manageable ways of living and working.

Keeping the most vulnerable members of our communities safe has been a hard fought, national, endeavour, and while we are not out of the darkness yet, it looks as though the light is starting to peep through the end of the (long) tunnel that is lockdown life.

Over the next eight to twelve weeks, many sectors of the economy have been forced to close in the battle to contain the spread of Covid-19. Fortunately for the estate agency industry, the government has recognised the importance of keeping the housing market open for business. This is not a step that has been taken lightly and protocols are strictly in place to protect clients and employees from the risk of viral transmission.

The first quarter of any year is always a buoyant and positive time for movement in the property industry, and fortunately, this year has proven to continue with this seasonal trend; even against all the odds.

Figures released from Rightmove, the leading property sales and lettings portal, show that traffic to their site was up 57% on Boxing day 2020 than on Boxing day 2019, and was also up 30% during the first few days of January 2021 compared to the same period last year, which is tremendously positive news. These figures clearly show that buyers, sellers, renters, and landlords still have confidence in the housing market, and more importantly, are actively searching and evaluating properties in preparation to do business.

Here at Hunters, we are dedicated to ensuring that every interaction we have with colleagues, clients, suppliers, and customers is as safe as possible. To make sure we get this right each and every time, we have designed and implemented a wide range of safe practice protocols to reassure all home-movers, vendors, and landlords that the property market is open, and that we are doing everything right to keep everyone safe.

All our branches are participating in the NHS Test and Trace initiative via in-branch QR codes or keeping a record of all branch visitors and contractors for 21 days if they do not have access to the app. Additionally, all staff receive regular training and additional support to ensure cleaning protocols, staff sickness and absence procedures, and workplace safety guidance have been duly updated to ensure compliance with the very latest government guidelines, and that they are understood and adhered to. Early last year we devised a detailed and robust set of COVID-19 secure practices for safe property appraisals, marketing, viewings, and new instructions to ensure safety; these are regularly reviewed to ensure Hunters are doing everything in our power to keep people safe, without stalling the uplift in the property market.

Our investment in prop-tech over the last few years meant we were able to quickly adapt to the demands of social distancing and lockdown restrictions while maintaining our position in the industry. Not all agencies have been able to step up to the challenge as effectively as we did; our strength in numbers and focus on working together as part of the nations favourite estate agent has held us strong through the most difficult of times.

The New Year message from all of us here at Hunters is to stay safe and be reassured that the property market remains active and strong.

To find out more about how to become part of Hunters, and how our Franchise opportunities can help you build your independent agency to take it to the next level, please do get in touch.