First of all, the health of yourself and your loved ones is paramount. We, like many households across the UK, are taking the utmost care to reduce the risks from COVID-19. The world, unfortunately, does not stop turning and in the meantime, many people will be mid-agreement or wanting to sell or purchase a home. Here is the official advice and what we suggest.
If your home is not yet on the market
“If you are thinking about selling, you can use this time to start gathering together all of the information you will need to provide to potential purchasers.”
“Advice for people to stay at home and away from others means you should not invite unnecessary visitors into your home, including property agents to carry out a market appraisal or take internal photographs prior to marketing your home; and Energy Performance Certificate assessors.”
Here at Wainwrights, we are conducting “virtual” appraisals to safely move you along the process. We simply set up a video call and view the property as you take us for a tour with your mobile phone. We will provide you with a value estimate and also point out any key aspects to work on while we wait for the situation to improve. Once the lockdown is lifted, we will then arrange a convenient time to come round and provide a full appraisal and get your house on the market as quickly as possible.
“If your property is already on the market, you can continue to advertise it as being for sale but you should not allow people in to view your property.”
“There should not be any visitors into your home, and you should therefore not let people visit your property for viewings. Your agent may be able to conduct virtual viewings and you could speak to them about this possibility.”
The government advice here is clear. In-person viewings will not be possible but as we can do virtual appraisals, we can also provide virtual viewings. Of course, they aren’t like the real thing but it gives people a taste of your home and supported by our personal approach, will keep potential buyers engaged until we can organise a physical viewing.
“Surveyors should not expect to carry out non-urgent surveys in homes where people are in residence, and no inspections should take place if any person in the property is showing symptoms, self-isolating or being shielded.
It may be possible to carry out some of the work online and also carry out urgent surveys on empty properties, or those where the occupants are out of the property or following guidance to stay at home and away from others.”
Getting a property thoroughly surveyed is an important step. Once all other aspects of readying your property are complete, we will discuss with you and our recommended surveyors, the best way forward and a suitable time scale to make sure everyone remains safe.
Accepting offers & exchanging contracts
“The buying and selling process can continue during this period but you should be aware that the process is likely to take longer than normal.”
The advice here follows the same outline. If you can delay then do but you can accept offers and exchange contracts if there are pressing factors.
One common approach which has materialised recently, and often at the request of the conveyancer, has been to exchange and complete at the same appointment. This allows all the necessary details to be arranged with the minimum physical contact. The property must be empty and free of obstacles but if all parties are satisfied then a sale can happen in this manner.
We are working closely with our solicitors and upon the government advice, we would recommend that where possible dates for exchange and completion are delayed.
“There will be people who have already committed to moving home; where possible we are encouraging them to delay their move but a small number of moves may need to go ahead. We would urge everyone to take all sensible precautions to ensure the move can happen safely.”
The advice to the general public, and removal firms, is to delay where possible but proceed with the utmost care when not. Clearly, we all need to be mindful of our physical contact so taking a sensible approach to this will be sufficient in most circumstances.
The internet is not just for Facebook!
If you are like us, then you have been eternally grateful for the internet during this difficult time. You can talk to loved ones, check in on friends and order essential supplies. Businesses like ours are also making use of the additional online tools available. We can organise key documents with you via email, collect photos & video, communicate face-to-face via Zoom or Skype and generally move the process of buying or selling a home along as much as possible during this challenging time.
Stay safe but get ready
In among all the uncertainty, there is one certainty. Us Brits are a plucky nation and we will get through this. We don’t know when things will return to normal, but they will, so our approach is to be ready. Whilst we are limited in some things we can safely do, we can still make you home the best it can be, organise our marketing strategy and be in a position to swiftly act once we come out the other side.
The overall takeaway here is that the most important thing is to remain safe, accept a delay where possible but move forward in the right circumstances. We will use all personal relationships and the tools available online to achieve this and help you take at least a step closer to your dream move.
For now, stay safe and stay home.