As part of the steps to ease lockdown in England, the government announced that the property industry can resume, subject to social distancing still being able to be enforced. The housing markets in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are still closed, with no official date for when they are likely to reopen.
Understandably, no matter where you are in the house purchasing journey, you will want to ensure that you can continue in your quest to find your dream home, so we have outlined some measures to make sure you can continue the journey while keeping everyone safe.
Viewing a property
Where a virtual property viewing is not possible, under the new rules a potential homeowner can now visit the home they are looking to put an offer in. However, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has released guidance so that estate agents are able to work safely.
Viewings should be kept to one agent and a maximum of two buyers – agents need to be present throughout the viewing to safeguard the seller’s property. Small children are allowed to attend if childcare isn’t possible, but it is the parent’s responsibility to ensure they don’t touch anything and that their hands are washed regularly.
Ahead of the potential buyers viewing the property, the homeowners should open all doors and turn on light switches, so no surfaces need to be touched by the agent or the customers. Before and following the viewing, surfaces and door handles should be deep cleaned. During the visit, sellers must vacate the house, or if that isn’t possible, wait in the garden until the showing is complete.
It is the responsibility of the viewers to bring their own hand sanitiser, but each viewing should include an area in the property where all parties can wash their hands and dry them with disposable paper towels.
Conducting a survey
A survey, which is conducted to identify any issues or problems with the property, needs to be completed for any sale to be completed. As this needs to take place within the property, it is important that during lockdown, steps are taken by both the surveyor and the customer to ensure the risk for all parties is minimised.
As a rule, only one family member should be present during the survey visit, and they should wear a facemask during the visit. Any customers considered to be ‘high risk’ – including those who are immunocompromised or have presented Coronavirus symptoms, should not visit the site. If this is the case, a representative may need to be appointed to attend the visit in their place. The regulation social distancing measures of 2 metres apart should always be maintained for both the client and the surveyor.
On moving day
When it comes to moving day, a deep clean should be undertaken, for both the property and the goods and effects. Hot soapy water or disinfectant is the most effective way to deep clean your home to minimise the risk of COVID-19 and disposable cloths should be used where possible. Windows should be kept open throughout the process to keep the space ventilated.
The number of people on-site should be kept to a minimum, with only one family member to be present at the premise. No other tradespeople should be in the property during the move process, and with all regular moving days, pets should be left with family members on the day – not only will it be less disruption for the movers, but pets can find the process of moving particularly stressful.
Any ‘high risk’ people should not be in the property, and if no other family member is available, a representative can step in to support. Everyone on site should wear a facemask to reduce the spread of germs, and the 2-metre distancing should be maintained, even outside the property.
As well as facemasks, removal crews should also wear gloves at all times and avoid touching their face throughout the move. Tissues should be used to capture coughs and sneezes and should be disposed of quickly and responsibly.
Cleaning essentials should be present within the cab of the moving van, and when sat in the vehicle, windows should be opened slightly. Facemasks should be worn constantly until the mover completes the shift.
When travelling, avoid areas with a high footfall or places that have a high concentration of people in a small space, and only leave the vehicle when it is absolutely necessary. Where it is needed, ensure the mover has the appropriate PPE to carry out the role safely.
Although the property market has been able to open, many regions still have travel restrictions in place, so it is important to check before the removal day that the local authority has not limited the movement of vans and trucks that are travelling for business purposes.
To ensure the van can arrive at the final destination without any issues, ensure all parties have a copy of the trip routing documentation, so if anyone is stopped in transit then you have the relevant information to prove the reason for the trip. Make sure the trip documentation includes any specific travel orders that may be required for that journey, and the route schedule is mapped clearly.
If you are thinking of moving now or soon, then do get in touch and find out how we can help you with your house move.