How to view property safely

Property viewings, in England, can now resume bringing relief to home-movers around the country.

However, your health and safety remains our top concern at this time which is why we’ve created a set of simple guidelines, based on the new government guidance, to reassure you when going on property viewings or allowing others into your home for viewings.

 If you’re a buyer or renter going on viewings: 

Protecting yourself and those in the property you’re viewing

Whether it’s on your way to a viewing, or once you get there, remember these three key pieces of advice from the government:

·         Maintain a 2m distance from anyone you aren’t living with – we know this can be tough at times, but it’s possible

·         Wash your hands regularly (and thoroughly) and avoid touching your face – we’ve all got the dry hands to prove it, but this remains one of the most important pieces of guidance right now to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

·         Minimise contact with surfaces outside of your home – this can be hard as we touch so many things throughout the day, often without thinking about it. Common things include door handles, lift buttons and ‘stop’ buttons on the bus.

Why not start with an online viewing, if available?

You’ll still need to view the property in person, before being able to proceed with an offer, but it’s a great place to start. Particularly helpful if you’re not entirely sure whether it’s suitable for you, it’s also one less journey you’ll need to make. If you’d still like the view the property, the agent will be pleased to know you’re serious.

Before the viewing

In line with government guidance, anyone experiencing coronavirus symptoms should be staying at home, to help prevent further spread of the disease.

To give confidence to all parties present at the viewing that this guidance is being followed, and to help the agent manage the viewing in the most efficient way possible, you should be asked to complete a handful of questions before your viewing such as:

·         Has anyone in your household had COVID-19?

·         Has anyone in your household displayed COVID-19 symptoms or not yet completed a required period of household self-isolation?

·         Are you in the high-risk category?

The current owner, or tenants, of the property you’re going to view will have also completed these questions, as will the agent if they’ll be present on the viewing, so don’t be afraid to check with the agent on this if it’s a concern.

We would also recommend asking the agent as many questions as possible before the viewing, to help save time on the viewing itself.

Travelling to and from viewings

We want you to be more excited than stressed right now, so follow our top travel tips for a smooth, and safe, journey:

·         Wherever possible, use your own transport (i.e car, motorcycle or bicycle) or, if it’s a walkable distance, consider this as an option

·         If you’re planning to drive to a viewing, think in advance about parking. Let the agent know in advance so they can advise you on where’s best to park as it’s not always obvious, especially if you don’t know the area.

·         Public transport is still essential for many of us, especially those in big cities. When booking the viewing, let the agent know so that they can help you book a viewing time outside of peak travel hours (06:30 – 09:30 and 16:00 – 19:00)

·         Show up on time. Agents will need you to arrive at your viewing at the time you’ve agreed, not earlier and not later. This is to help minimise the number of people gathering near the property.

At the viewing

For the duration of the viewing, you will need to be mindful that this is someone’s home (if occupied) and follow the social distancing guidelines.

Being armed with all the questions you still need to ask on the viewing will be more important than ever to ensure you’re getting the most out of the viewing.

Create your own ‘viewing kit to get the most out of your viewings:

·         Anti-bacterial hand sanitiser  – This will ensure you can clean your hands both before and after the viewing

·         A face mask – not an essential but recommended. It will show politeness to the agent and current owner that you have considered them. Especially useful if you’re currently suffering from hayfever, and therefore prone to sneezing, or travelling by public transport. 

·         Disposable gloves – not an essential, but a good idea if you’re worried about touching anything accidentally (especially if you’ve had to travel by public transport)

·         Your phone – not only so you can contact the agent if you need to, but also so you can take photos or make notes.

If you’re a seller letting people into your home for viewings:

Follow our simple guidance to ensure each viewing goes as smoothly as possible: 

Protecting your household and those on viewings

Always remember to follow this simple government guidance:

·         Maintain a 2m distance from those on the viewing – we know this may be challenging, especially in smaller properties, but speak to your agent and together work out a route that makes the most sense for viewings to follow.

·         Wash your hands regularly (and thoroughly) and avoid touching your face – we’ve all got the dry hands to prove it, but this remains one of the most important pieces of guidance right now to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and we’d recommend doing this both before and after each viewing.

·         Regularly clean items that are likely to be touched on viewings – Particularly door handles, doorbells, and window latches/locks.

Before the viewing

In line with government guidance, anyone experiencing coronavirus symptoms should be staying at home, to help prevent further spread of the disease. Viewings should not go ahead if any party is experiencing symptoms or has recently tested positive for coronavirus.

To give confidence to all parties present at the viewing that this guidance is being followed, and to help the agent manage the viewing in the most efficient way possible, you should be asked to complete a handful of questions before any viewings your agent has organised which should include:

·         Has anyone in your household had COVID-19?

·         Has anyone in your household displayed COVID-19 symptoms or not yet completed a required period of household self-isolation?

·         Is anyone in your household in the high-risk category?

Ahead of each viewing, each prospective buyer will have also been asked to complete these questions, as will the agent if they’ll be present on the viewing. Don’t be afraid to check with the agent that this has happened if it’s a concern.

Preparing for the viewing

Most of us will give our homes a good deep clean before opening the doors to prospective buyers, as part of wanting it to look its best and attract a buyer. Now is no different, so use it as an opportunity to give everything a good clean before viewings start.

As much as you’ll not want the strangers in your home touching door handles etc, they will feel the same. If your agent is doing the viewing on your behalf, they should be opening all doors, cupboards etc for those on the viewing. If you’re doing the viewing, we advise you take the same approach as it will help you keep track of what you’ll need to clean afterwards.

 To help minimise the number of people in your home at any one time, it may be required for you and your household to leave while the viewing is taking place.

We would recommend discussing this with your agent before any viewings so that, together, you can work out a sensible plan that works for everyone.

 When preparing for a viewing, follow our checklist to help it go smoothly:

·         Clean items and/or areas that are likely to be touched (i.e door handles, doorbells) with an antibacterial cleaner both before and after the viewing has taken place.

·         Open windows to boost ventilation prior to the viewing taking place

·         Open internal doors, loft hatches, and anything else you think may be of interest, ahead of the viewing to minimise any unnecessary contact

·         If possible, provide hand sanitiser by your front door so that the agent and viewers can clean their hands when they enter and leave your home.

·         Have a plan of where you can go while the viewing is taking place if you need to.

After the viewing

Once the viewing has finished, the agent may want to spend a couple of extra minutes with you, perhaps going through any feedback or comments with you. If you have an outdoor space that allows you to distance yourselves more easily, feel free to take the conversation outside, or ideally minimise physical meetings and book a follow-up call.

Once the agent has left, you’ll want to wipe down any door handles, cupboard doors etc that were touched on the viewing, with an antibacterial wipe or spray, and wash your hands.

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