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We all sat watching our televisions on Monday 4th January, as Boris delivered the news that we were going back into a National lockdown, as of Wednesday.

Just as before, the Government have given Estate Agents, Solicitors, Removal Companies and Financial Advisors across England, the Green light to stay open for business.

Agencies across the Country are now re-evaluating their previous decisions on the best way forward to protect themselves, their employees, home owners and viewers.

Back in May 2020 the Government provided new Legislation and the National Association of Estate Agents provided Guidelines for how agents could carry out appointments.  The guidelines have yet again been updated. 

Virtual viewings are recommended by the Government as a first viewing of a property.  You will find that many agents are either offering videos online as part of their marketing and/or Zoom meetings set up, so that the home owner can walk you round their home using their mobile phone.

Physical viewings ae now a last resort.  People that have viewed a property virtually and would like a physical viewing must be in a position to proceed with a purchase.  This means that you must have sold your home subject to contract and/or have a decision in principle in place in order to make an offer or you are a cash buyer and are willing to provide evidence of the monies before viewing.

The number of people attending a physical viewing has been reduced to two from the same household. Children should not attend viewings.  Each and every contact with a person from outside of your household is a Coronavirus contamination risk, no matter how small.

When physically viewing a property, you should bring your own facemask and hand sanitiser/plastic gloves. If you do not bring your PPE equipment with you, the viewing cannot go ahead. If you have a medical condition whereby you do not require to wear a facemask, this must be declared prior to the viewing as alternative arrangements must be made.  A home owner holds the right to decline any viewing. 

Home owners must ensure all surfaces, such as door handles, handrails and bannisters are cleaned before and after every viewing.  All internal doors and windows should be left open to allow air in and deter touching of handles.

Time spent viewing within the property should be kept to a maximum of 15-20 minutes.

If the property is empty, the agent will ensure that cleaning is carried out.  If they are carrying out more than 1 viewing, time must be allowed for a break in between to carry out the cleaning.  Open viewings can no longer take place.

The Government previously expected agents to accompany all viewings, however guidelines have changed and the Government advises that Homeowners carrying out their own viewings should receive advice from their agent on how to carry them out safely as well as the viewers. Homeowners carrying out their own viewings reduces the number of people coming in to the home and therefore reduces the risk of contamination.

Everyone should practice social distancing in line with Public Health advice and stay apart for a minimum of 2 metres.

If any member of the owner’s household, the viewer’s household or the agent’s household are showing symptoms or are self-isolating, then the viewing must be postponed.  Everybody has a duty of care to one another and must advise the agent.  Unless you are a Doctor you cannot decide for yourself that ‘it’s just a cold’.

You cannot view a property with a member of another household.  If you and your partner live separately then this is classed as 2 households and you will have to have 2 separate viewings.  If you don’t live together you can’t come together.

If you require a ‘valuation’ on your property, it is advisable that this is done virtually in the first instance.  Agents can arrange a Zoom meeting or a WhatsApp call, where you will be able to get to know your agent, discuss your needs/requirements and walk through your home carrying your Ipad/laptop/mobile phone. 

Physical ‘valuations’ can be carried out at your property, but should be kept to a 15/20-minute time limit.

If you would like any further help or advice, please feel free to give us a call on our office number 01757 709955.