16 May Update on COVID-19 and operating under revised Government guidance
It has been extremely welcome news this week that all residential sales and lettings estate agents have been permitted to return to work and we are delighted to be able to commence sales and lettings valuations, property viewings and now progress sales to completion.
We remain open and for longer hours, however, there is limited staff in branch as most of our colleagues are still working remotely from home. We have re-planned office layout and implemented new health and safety rules and regulations to ensure that social distancing is maintained and all our staff have received specific safety training and have suitable PPE. We are able to see clients face to face, if preferred, but this is only allowed by appointment at this moment in time – so if you need to see us please do give us a call first!
Clearly, health and safety are our first and most important priority and we have taken all necessary steps and precautions to protect the wellbeing of our staff, clients and the contractors who we come into contact with. Both the government and Public Health England guidelines are very clear and we have implemented procedures to ensure that they are adhered to.
The following guidance will assist you to help us protect your safety.
Guidance for Viewings
- Clients must NOT allow a viewing appointment to take place or attend at a property if they are, or any member of their household has or is displaying symptoms of the Coronavirus which can be any or all of the following; high temperature/fever, continuous cough and/or shortness of breath.
- Clients are requested to view properties on the internet and virtual tours (if available) before requesting a physical viewing appointment.
- Only clients with serious intent to move/offer will be permitted to have physical viewing appointments.
- Only 2 adults from the same household will be permitted to attend a viewing appointment.
- Children are not permitted at house viewings.
- Our accompanied viewers will no longer be providing property particulars at the viewing appointment in order to reduce the risk of spread of infection. You may download property particulars from the internet or we are able to e-mail them or post them via Royal Mail if preferred.
- Hand washing facilities, where possible, will be made available and ideally separate towels/paper towels. Hand washing or hand sanitising is to be carried out by all clients at both the beginning and the end of every viewing appointment. However, should hand washing facilities not be available viewers should come to viewing appointments prepared with their own hand sanitiser.
- Clients should attend viewings with a face mask/covering which can be used in the event of any unforeseen circumstances or where social distancing measures cannot be maintained.
- We request that clients vacate the property to minimise contact with us and those not in their household to allow us to adhere to the social distancing measures of 2 meters
- Prior to viewing appointments, all internal doors, walk in robes etc. and windows will be opened to avoid contact with hard surfaces and to ensure good ventilation, wherever possible.
- Viewers are not permitted to touch any hard surfaces or open any cupboards or doors in the property
- Viewing appointments are currently restricted to fifteen/twenty minutes maximum
- Social distancing of 2 meters must be adhered to at all times
- After each viewing all door handles and other hard surfaces that may have been touched will be cleaned with standard household cleaning products or sanitising wipes.
Guidance for Property valuations, EPC and photography appointments
- Clients must NOT request a physical valuation, EPC or photography appointment if they are, or any member of their household is, displaying symptoms of the Coronavirus which can be any or all of the following; high temperature/fever, continuous cough and/or shortness of breath.
- We ask that handwashing facilities ideally with separate towels/paper towels are made available to us, however, our valuers and staff will always attend your property with suitable hand sanitisers and/or protective gloves which can be used at the valuation appointment.
- Our valuers will attend at your property with appropriate face masks should it be your preference that these are worn. However, face masks must be worn in the event that social distancing cannot be maintained.
- Prior to us attending a valuation appointment we ask that all internal doors, walk in robes etc. are open in order to avoid us coming into contact with hard surfaces.
- Wherever possible and appropriate we ask that windows, bi-fold and patio doors etc. are opened to ensure good ventilation and ease of access to outside spaces and gardens.
- We politely request that clients vacate the property whilst we make an initial inspection to minimise contact with us and, for you, those not living in your household. This will also allow us to adhere to the social distancing measures of 2 meters whilst walking around your home making notes and sketching floor plans.
- We will always ensure that the social distancing measures are adhered to while we conduct our appraisal and discussion after the initial walk round.
- If we are attending your property to carry out an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) you should ensure the energy assessor has access to all the parts of the property they need to inspect, and make efforts to minimise contact with them, for example by staying in another room whilst they are inspecting your home.
- If we are attending your property to carry out professional photography, please ensure that your property is presented as you wish it to appear in the photographs as the photographer will not be able to move furniture and touch any unnecessary surfaces in your home.
- Two-meter social distancing will be adhered to on all visits to your home.
- You should sanitise door handles and hard surfaces after our visit.
Surveys on Sold, STC properties
Surveyors can now undertake surveys of the properties you wish to purchase.
Surveyors are governed by the same guidance as estate agents; however, you should speak to your chosen firm of surveyors regarding their specific protocols for their visit to your home.
If your home is being surveyed, you should ensure the surveyor has access to all the parts of the property they need to inspect, and make efforts to minimise contact with the surveyor, for example by staying in another room or outside whilst they are inspecting your home.
Once you have agreed to move home by exchanging contracts or signing a tenancy agreement, you have entered into a legal agreement to move. All parties should be as flexible as possible over this period and be prepared to delay moves if needed, (for example if someone becomes ill with coronavirus during the process and has to self-isolate). You should not expect to move into any home where people are ill or self-isolating and your legal adviser should be able to help you to ensure that any contract you enter into has sufficient flexibility to allow a purchase to be delayed in the event that an individual in one of the parties contracts coronavirus or has to self-isolate.
Removal firms are able to operate, although they may need to adjust usual procedures in order to ensure moves happen as safely as possible.
It is recommended that you and your household should try and do as much of the packing yourself as possible and that, where possible, you clean your belongings, with standard domestic cleaning products before they are handled by others, including removal firms. However, where this is not possible, you should speak to your removal firms in advance.
When removers are in your home, you should ensure any internal doors are open and seek to minimise your contact with the crew, maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres wherever possible.
All parties should regularly wash their hands and avoid touching surfaces where possible to reduce the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.
You should not provide refreshments but you should ensure they have access to hand washing facilities, using separate towels or paper towels if possible, which should be washed or disposed of safely afterwards.
We do hope that this newsletter has been informative and reassured you of the steps and procedures HARDISTY AND CO have put into place for the safety and protection of our staff, clients and contractors, however, if there is anything you are unsure of or concerned about please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team.
For further advice and answers to frequently asked questions, click here for more guidance.
Stay safe and take care,
Andrew, Ian and Peter Hardisty