The Housing Secretary has revealed that as of today, anyone in England can move home, as long as they follow government guidelines. These include new house-viewing protocols.
‘Today I am announcing new guidelines to allow the housing market to resume,’ said Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick in a statement. ‘Our clear plan will enable people to move home safely, covering each aspect of the sales and letting process from viewings to removals.’
Understandably, the aspect of moving homes that has many people anxious is house viewings. However, the government guidance sketches an outline of what a Covid-19 safe property viewing will look like.
From encouraging virtual property viewings to providing hand-washing facilities, here is what we can expect from the new house viewing protocols.
New house viewing protocols
1. Initial virtual property viewings encouraged
Government guidance has put a huge emphasis on encouraging homebuyers to do a large part of their property search online.
‘Initial viewings should be done virtually wherever this is possible, and physical viewings should only be conducted where buyers are seriously considering making an offer on a property,’ explains the guidelines.
Sellers will likely be asked to help out with these virtual viewings, by taking potential buyers of a tour of the flat via a pre-recorded video or video call.
2. Potential buyers and estate agents will wear masks and gloves
While the need to wear PPE during a house viewing is not mentioned in the government guidelines, many estate agents such as Benham and Reeves, have said they will encourage agents and potential buyers to wear masks and gloves when entering a property.
‘We’ve already stockpiled a large amount of PPE on the advice of our offices in Asia who have been preparing for a return since January,’ explains Marc von Grundherr, Director of Benham and Reeves.
3. Only the potential buyer will be allowed to view a property
To ensure that social distancing can be practised, agents will be able to restrict the number of people who attend a property viewing. The government guideline says that ‘only those in your immediate household should be there’. So leave your entourage at home people!
4. Potential buyers will not be allowed to touch any surfaces
Buyers or renters will not be allowed to touch any surfaces within the property. To help avoid this, sellers will be asked to leave doors in the property open and lights turned on.
All parties will also be asked to wash their hands on entering the property. You’ll need to use separate towels or paper towels that can washed or disposed off after use.
5. Sellers will need to wait outside during viewings
In order to minimise contact with people outside the household, sellers will be encouraged to vacate the property whilst a viewing is taking place.
That could mean waiting in the garden, coinciding the visit with your daily exercise or food shop. Alternatively, sellers might choose to stay in the property if they can practise social distancing.
6. Properties should be cleaned after viewings
After a viewing has taken place, homeowners should ensure that all surfaces have been cleaned and disinfected. That includes ‘high touch’ areas such as door handles.
The housing industry welcomes the Housing Secretary’s announcement.
‘Opening up the housing market is not just great news for home hunters and estate agents,’ says Charlie Bryant, CEO at Zoopla. ‘As well as unlocking £82bn of housing sales stalled in the pipeline, it will provide an all-important boost to the real economy, as housing sales trigger increased spending through builders, tradespeople, removal firms, solicitors and many more.’
‘Before Covid-19 the housing market was enjoying its strongest start to the year since 2016. By taking these steps, the government will give confidence to buyers, sellers and renters than Britain is reopening for business and they can do their bit to get the economy moving again.’