May 18, 2020
Property market reopens – here’s what you need to know
On Wednesday May 13, the property market officially reopened having been given the green light by government to do so. Albeit with strict caveats and restrictions in place.
Estate agents are now able to reopen their offices (we are open! Contact us here!) and buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants are able to move around again, helped by the conveyancers, surveyors, removal firms, valuers, mortgage brokers etc, who contribute to the smooth functioning of the sector.
This is, of course, great news for those already in the process of moving before the lockdown was imposed. Or those who are thinking about listing or purchasing in the near future.
As said, though, it won’t be a case of business as normal. It will be, as we’ve heard said so much, a ‘new normal’.
Although the government has allowed the industry to get back to work, strict social distancing measures and hygiene protocols must be in place. There are other major changes, too.
Here, we analyse what the government guidance says and what it means for home movers.
A new way of doing things
In order to keep to the government’s social distancing measures, agents, buyers and sellers are being advised to conduct activity online where possible.
The government guidance states that the process of finding and moving into a new home will need to be different. Those involved in the process will have to adapt practices and procedures to ensure that the risk of the spread of coronavirus is reduced as far as possible.
“This will include doing more of the process online, including virtual initial viewings,” the guidance states.
Additionally, the guidance encourages people to do the majority of their property searching online. “To support this, agents may ask home occupiers to conduct virtual viewings,” the guidance added.
When it comes to new-build property sales, the guidance says: “Where possible, developers should promote virtual viewings.”
Likewise, the guidance for conveyancers is that they should aim to conduct as much of their business remotely as they can.
Where physical interactions are necessary, there are a number of guidelines to follow. Viewings and public visits to branches should be on an appointment-only basis. Meanwhile, steps should be taken to avoid contact with clients showing symptoms or those who have been advised to self-isolate.
Here, buyers and sellers are being asked to reach an amicable arrangement, postponing the transaction to a time when the person or persons are no longer ill, shielding or self-isolating.
The advice makes clear that open-house viewings should be avoided entirely, while everyone must maintain the standard two metre distance from others during physical viewings. Face-masks and PPE should be worn as appropriate.
Buyers must now make their own way to appointments rather than travelling there in an agent’s car. Hand sanitiser and hand washing facilities must be implemented at properties being viewed, while ventilation should be increased by opening doors and windows where possible. What’s more, keys should be cleaned before they are handed over, while agents are also being urged to offer clean paper towels for sellers, buyers and tenants to use during viewings to wash their hands.
In addition, the guidance confirmed that all supplementary activities within the property rental and sales process may resume, including surveys, EPC assessments, removals, conveyancing, and the preparation of homes for sale – including the use of tradespeople to complete this – as well as visits to future homes to measure up or have building work done prior to moving in.
Once more, though, social distancing and hygiene protocols must be followed. You can read the full government guidance here.
Complying fully with the new rules
Atkinson McLeod will follow the new government guidelines to the letter, making sure we keep our clients and staff safe and well at all times. We will encourage and facilitate virtual viewings and valuations where that is possible and desirable. We will also ensure we stick to the guidelines on social distancing, hygiene protocols and the other measures outlined by Downing Street.
With some 450,000 house transactions currently in the pipeline – the vast majority of which would have been put on hold by lockdown – and some 300,000 tenancies coming up for renewal, we know there is a lot of pent-up demand in the market.
Activity will be fast and furious for a while, but it will be a very different market for a while. Things may never return to the old ways, with features such as virtual viewings and valuations becoming more commonplace.
We must all find ways of adapting and evolving to operate while coronavirus remains a part of our lives.
The government made clear, when reopening the property market, that this will not be a ‘return to normality’. Caution, health and safety, and sensible practices are the order of the day.
On the upside, sentiment has remained high throughout the lockdown period. Research suggests that many buyers and sellers want to act decisively as soon as this is feasible.
The next period will take some getting used to, and processes may be slower than usual for a bit. However, the property market has highlighted its ability to cope with crises and difficulties in the past. It will do so again.
We offer guidance on buying, selling, renting and letting a property in the capital. To find out more about our services and current operations, please get in touch with our expert team today. You can find out how much your home could be worth on the current market by requesting a free and instant online valuation here.