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The Home Moving Process

During COVID-19

During these unprecedented times, it is essential we all work together to play our part minimising in COVID-19 risks and to keep our customers and our colleagues safe and well. We are all required to reduce the probability of coming into contact with someone who may have COVID-19, but not yet showing symptoms, this will ultimately mean some changes to what you may be used to within the home moving process.

As The Guild of Property Professionals covers the whole of the UK, there will likely be regional variations or local and national lockdown restrictions which affect the processes you may find in your local Guild office.

We are supporting independent agents to work safely and effectively during these unusual times, and the following sections outline how participating Guild Members may be achieving a COVID-Secure environment.

Knowing you are working with a safe property professional is invaluable, so we recommend you contact your local agent to find out more about their individual COVID-Secure policies and any alterations to the typical home moving process.

Find your nearest Guild Member here.

1. People

Guild Member offices should regularly check on the health of their teams. As part of their morning meetings, we recommend they carry out a daily check-in to ensure no health conditions have changed since the previous day. They should protect each other and you by wearing a face mask when meeting with members of the public.

2. Guild Member Offices

Guild Members should adhere to the Government guidance on social distancing measures and face coverings. You may also see some protective screens in some of their offices, to help safeguard their teams and you.

We understand some Guild Member agents are working on an appointment-only basis, so don't be surprised if you find the front door locked when popping in on the off-chance. We recommend calling your agent before visiting. It is also possible some agencies will be operating on slightly reduced or varied hours.

We recommend Guild Members purchase an ample supply of hand sanitiser, anti-bacterial wipes and sprays, soap and tissues and make sure these are readily available on desks for staff, visitors and customers to use.

Staff should wash their hands with hot water and soap more frequently than before, and they should ensure supplies are stocked up in washrooms, along with disposable paper towels.

Business owners should lead by example and keep social distancing measures in place at all times. This includes when conducting morning meetings, when preparing refreshments, visits to the lavatories and allocating lunch breaks, all of which should be staggered.

3. Valuations

Estate Agency is a people business and requires interaction with sellers, buyers, applicants, landlords, tenants, and contractors, to name but a few. How can Guild Members provide a safe environment for all concerned?

Virtual options

Digital market appraisals and viewing options remain paramount for estate and letting agents – which Guild Members can offer. Technology is allowing our Members to complete a market appraisal in accordance with the seller’s instructions, virtually. They have access to detailed property and market data, as well as software to help you submit details about your property along with photos and videos. Find out more about Guild Member's virtual services here, or start a virtual valuation today.

Physical visits

All meetings should take place by appointment only. Ask your Guild Member to confirm the process in writing before any appointment takes place.

Your agent may ask a few questions regarding potential COVID symptoms or whether someone in your household is self-isolating, to ensure they remain COVID-Secure. Please do disclose any symptoms when you are asked, just as all staff within your local Member office should never attend an appointment if they are feeling unwell.

All parties should wear a face mask throughout the appointment. Don't be surprised if handshaking and physical contact is avoided and remember to keep your two-metre distance. As the occupier, you might also be kindly asked to open all doors, to avoid unnecessary contact.

When it comes to valuing your property, your agent will want to present how they intend to market your property to buyers. We recommend they show any marketing in a digital format, avoiding leaving any paper documents at your property. Your agent should follow up with an email, but ask if you are unsure of the next steps.

Your agent will look to keep any face-to-face contact to a minimum and respectfully decline any coffees/refreshments you may be kind enough to offer.

Reassuring you is paramount to Guild Members, so you can expect them to explain the actions their firm is taking to reduce the risk of spreading Coronavirus. If you are unsure or would like to know more, ask!

After the meeting

Upon leaving your property, Guild Members are advised to sanitise their hands and wipe any equipment used during the visit with a disinfectant.

Back at the office, agents should wash their hands with soap and hot water before doing anything else – many are putting signs up around the office to ensure there are plenty of reminders for staff.

Where an agent receives an instruction to sell a property, they will acknowledge that all other aspects of their legal obligations are still in force.

EPCs can continue to be provided if no COVID-19 issues exist and the assessor operates in accordance with Public Health England guidance.

 

4. Viewings

Virtual tools

Our Members will use the technology available to them to offer remote, virtual viewings. They have access to a sophisticated virtual property tour platform and video branding software that enables them to create a professional-looking video tour, using their footage or a recording from the seller. 

 

 

 By using virtual viewings as a first step, Members can ensure physical viewings are with buyers who are genuinely keen on your property.

Physical viewings

All viewings should be by appointment only, and your agent can confirm the viewing process in writing to all parties before any appointment takes place.

There should be no open house events for the time being.

Your agent is likely to ask a few questions regarding potential COVID symptoms or whether anyone in the sellers or buyer households is self-isolating, to ensure they remain COVID-Secure.

When conducting viewings, your agent should limit viewings to just two households, this will include the seller who would be classed as one ‘household’.

Agents are advised not to travel with prospective buyers; everyone should meet at the property, should a physical viewing need to take place.

Where possible, they may ask the owner and their family to vacate the property for the duration of the appointment – your Guild Member will try to keep this as short as possible.

All parties should be asked to wear a face mask throughout any viewings. They should respectfully avoid any handshaking or physical contact, and remember to keep two-metres apart.

You may also be asked, as the owner, to open all doors ahead of the viewing to avoid unnecessary contact.

Guild agents should demonstrate all marketing via digital resources and follow up with an email, rather than leaving any paper documents at any property.

After the viewing

When your agent returns to their vehicle, they should safely dispose of their gloves and sanitise their hands. They should also wipe any equipment used during the visit.

If the property is vacant and they are using a key to gain access, Members are advised to wipe the key when it is taken from the key cabinet, wipe it after the viewing and again before it is placed back in the key cabinet.

5. Property Management

Interim inspections

Agents can use technology such as FaceTime, Zoom or similar to achieve these. They should make clear notes of what they have seen, just as they would with a manual recording of an inspection.

It is important to ensure the health and safety of tenants. Annual gas safety checks should continue; they can arrange these at any time from month 10 of the existing certificate, without impacting the expiry date. Gas Safe engineers are permitted to visit in accordance with Public Health England guidance.

Contractors may continue to visit properties to undertake maintenance and repair, but they should first complete a health assessment. The contractor will visit in accordance with Public Health England guidance.

End of tenancy check out

Guild Members are encouraged to complete a virtual check-out, making sure that they have a copy of inventory and check-in reports available, and using these to cross-reference any points. They should obtain both landlord and tenant’s consent to using this method.

Where Guild Members do see tenants on a face-to-face basis, they should ask a few questions regarding potential COVID symptoms or whether anyone in that households is self-isolating, to ensure they remain COVID-Secure.

Agents are likely to be wearing protective gloves and avoid any physical contact. On returning to their cars, we recommend they safely dispose of their gloves and sanitise their hands. They should also wipe any equipment used during the visit.

Where a tenant is required to visit the office, two-metre social distancing should be observed and if possible, use a designated desk behind a protective screen. All parties should wear a face mask.

Where any keys are issued, your agent should wash their hands once this has happened and where keys are received back, wipe the keys and wash their hands.

They are likely to avoid taking any cash or cheque payments from tenants, where possible. So speak to them about payment methods. If it is not possible to pay in a contactless way, your agent could wear protective gloves to carry out the transaction.

For new tenancies, as a precaution, you may find some Members will operate a ‘three-day void period’ between previous tenants vacating and new tenants taking up residence. This is based on results from research that has found the Coronavirus can still be detectable on surfaces for up to 72 hours.

In summary

It is our sole intention to help Guild Members work safely and effectively. Members are likely to continue reviewing this policy to ensure it remains relevant, but your local Guild Member will be able to answer any questions you have, so do get in touch with them to discuss your move further.

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