Although we are still in lockdown here in Scotland, the property market in England is now open for business and it will be interesting to see how the market there performs over the next few weeks.
For everyone in our industry, the health and safety of staff and clients remains a primary concern and with that in mind the government has issued advice on staying safe when moving home in England and we anticipate this will be similar in Scotland.
Here we look at the current advice and how viewings may look once we start up again in Scotland.
Whilst the UK has been in lock down we have used the Internet much more and many of us have been looking at the property portals and social media to see which homes are available. Lock down may have also made us reassess our surroundings and consider whether we need more space, a bigger garden or even if we are in the right area. Research from Rightmove this month showed that people are now looking to swap a city lifestyle for country living.
Here are some of the guidelines that have been issued to buyers, sellers and estate agents.
Avoid speculative viewings. Start with online images and video to get a real feel for the property and talk to the agent about the property including all of the pros and cons. Although you will need to see the property in person before being able to proceed with an offer, online is a great place to start. Agents may now also carry out additional checks to ensure you are in a position to proceed with a purchase to avoid people just looking out of interest. Serious viewings will only be permitted.
You may be asked to complete a handful of questions before your viewing including:
Has anyone in your household had COVID-19?
Has anyone in your household displayed COVID-19 symptoms?
If so, have you completed isolation?
Are you high-risk?
Both the viewer and the vendor will be required to answer these questions.
Most sellers will give their home a deep clean and remove clutter before opening the doors to prospective buyers but it’s important to be extra vigilant during this time.
You will need to leave the property before the viewing. All internal doors and loft hatches should be left open to avoid anyone touching internal door handles and if any cupboards or doors do need to be opened, this should only be done by the agent.
Clean all items that are likely to be touched before and after the viewing, and open windows so the home is well ventilated. If you can, provide hand sanitiser at the door and disposable towels if people are using the sink to wash their hands. When you return to the property, wipe all surfaces with an anti bacterial wipe.
Transport to viewings: Make your own way to viewings and avoid using public transport to get there – if this isn’t possible try and arrange a viewing during off-peak times. Also ask the agent about suitable parking.
Don’t shake hands: Be mindful that you cannot shake hands with the estate agent.
Be on time: Make sure you’re on time to minimise the number of people gathering around the property.
Social distancing: Keeping a 2m distance from anyone who is not in your household. This is the equivalent of two strides or the length of a door. If you are going to a viewing, do not take children with you.
Hand washing: Wash hands regularly throughout the day and especially before and after viewings. This is one of the most important safety measures you can take. Also avoid touching your face if possible.
Avoid contact with surfaces: Avoid touching surfaces and door handles. During viewings, all doors need to be left open.
Items to consider taking with you to keep you and the vendor safe:
Anti-bacterial hand sanitiser or soap plus a small towel to dry your hands
Pen and paper to take notes
Your phone to take photos or notes
A bottle of water – you won’t be able to ask for or accept a drink
Once the viewing has been completed, try and talk to the agent via the phone rather than in person to get feedback or do this outdoors with social distancing in mind. Try and minimise physical meetings. If your buyer has been properly pre-vetted, you will know that only very interested parties will be undertaking viewings and if they do require a second viewing, this should only be done if they are seriously considering making an offer or registering their interest.