A Larne-based estate agent has welcomed the decision of Mid and East Antrim Council to permit the viewing of vacant properties, but concerns have again been raised over a lack of clarity about what agents can and cannot do.
Matthew Scott, from Independent Homes in the harbour town, said that any moves to be proactive in restarting the housing market are to be welcomed, but urged the Executive to take a lead in rolling out a united business model for how it would operate across the whole of Northern Ireland.
"It is a good, positive step forward, but there are still concerns over what we can and cannot do. It's all very vague," he said.
"There is no real business model over how this can realistically be achieved.
"We have spent today reacting to this as we had no warning it was coming, but there needs to be a lot more clarity for the industry, and for people who are trying to sell their properties and get moving.
"The letter we received talks about enforcement, but who is enforcing and what are the measures we have to take? We don't like to tell people that we don't know at this stage. There are a lot of phone calls to make to see exactly where we stand.
"All I can say right now is that we welcome any positive moves for the industry and any steps, however cautious, to get back to any sense of normality will be welcomed."
Mr Scott said the new guidelines will only mean a small percentages of homes on the market will be available for viewing.
"We have around 80 houses on our books at the minute. Looking at those, around 10% would probably come under the description of vacant, so it's not a major part of our business. But there are major obstacles. Practically, we like to arrange viewings so several can be done in a short space of time, at half-hour intervals if possible.
"This doesn't allow for that, so what we're looking at is a 15-day period to get through the number of viewings we would normally host in one day. By the time we get through all those, the whole situation could have changed.
"What limits this further is that not every council area is moving forward on this at the same time. Property is a nationwide business. People move from Larne to Belfast, to Antrim, to Ballymena. You might only have to be moving a few miles to be leaving one council are and going into another. There is no consistency of message here.
"On the whole, we have a lot of interest in property built up and the business is ready to go when we have a date to do so."