With rules and regulations surrounding lockdown seeming to change by the hour, baffling public and politicians alike, the government was forced to attempt to simplify its guidance and on October 12th the new Tiers system was announced.
However, clarification is still needed surrounding the new measures, especially when it comes to the already complicated process of buying and selling property.
According to government guidance, if you are looking to sell, buy or rent a house in a tier 3 lockdown area, you can still do so, as long as you follow their requirements.
With regions now classed in Covid risk tiers, it can be confusing as to what we can and cannot do depending on the tier. As with some industries, such as hospitality having the most restrictions, what are the guidelines for property sales and rentals?
Under guidance from the government, it is still business as usual for the property sector, but safety measures should be employed by estate agents, renters and home buyers and sellers as well as maintenance personnel.
Included in this guidance:
1: Using remote working tools to avoid in-person appointments;
2: Only those participants who are absolutely necessary to an appointment should physically attend and should maintain social 3: distancing, wearing a mask and sanitising hands;
4: Avoiding actions that might transmit the virus during appointments, such as sharing pens, documents and other objects;
5: Holding meetings outdoors or in well-ventilated rooms whenever possible.
After seeing a surge in demand for property investment in the North West of England, Madalena Penny, Director of Property Auctions at Penny Joseph & Town and Country in Lancashire, believes it would be a terrible shame if investment in the North West stagnated because of lockdown restrictions.
Recent data from mortgage broker Mojo Mortgages reveals property investors favour the North-West, as prices remain stable and rental-yields are the highest in the country, making it the hot-spot of investment.
Ms Penny says: “There should be no reason why property sales and buy-to-let investments should stagnate. As long as everyone is sensible, and follows the government recommended guidelines, we should be able to successfully carry out property transactions safely.”
Here are 10 Tips for Estate Agents from Madalena on how to safely work within property sales and rentals:
1: If possible, make all contracts, AST's and tenancy applications available online. Use links for applicants to upload documentation, so to restrict meeting in person.
2: To keep viewings in properties that are occupied, create 360 virtual tours.
3: Do not do block viewings. Keep viewing appointments at intervals and ensure that individual viewing appointments of 2 or more people are from the same household regardless if the property is vacant or occupied.
4: When undertaking viewings in empty properties, agents should spray and wipe door handles with a sanitiser after each viewing.
5: Agents should leave doors open in vacant properties or arrange for occupants to do so when undertaking viewings, and ensure windows are open prior to the arrival of viewers to ensure ventilation.
6: Agents should remain outside property while viewings are underway.
7: All participants should wear masks and observe social distancing.
8: If the property is occupied, and if possible, ask occupant if they are able to wait outside property while viewing is undertaken.
9: Ensure on day of viewing via SMS, email or telephone that all parties involved with the viewings are well, and have no temperature or Covid symptoms.
10: Agents should not offer business cards, share pens or pass leaflets or brochures to anyone. It is safer to offer a link to online brochures and information.
Madalena concludes: “As we have had to co-exist with the Covid Virus, it will, of course, take time to adapt to new business procedures. But if these procedures are carried out as a matter of habit, the property sector will continue to flourish, despite the setbacks."