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The government has now amended the coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations to allow people who wish to move home can do so, but there is understandably a high level of concern about the health risks that buyers, sellers, landlords, tenants and agents might be exposed to in the course of the process.

This blogs sets out the precautions we are taking to ensure that everyone is appropriately protected, especially ahead of property viewings.

It should go without saying that if you have – or have had – ANY symptoms, or have knowingly been in contact with anyone who has shown symptoms, you MUST NOT show or view a property until you’ve isolated for 14 days.

But assuming that isn’t the case, there are a number of basic steps everyone involved in a possible viewing MUST comply with to ensure that the risk of spread of coronavirus is reduced as far as possible.

Preparing for a ‘real’ viewing

Wherever possible, we will try to arrange a virtual online viewing first, to confirm that a ‘real’, physical viewing is still needed; if a potential tenant or buyer is not satisfied after seeing photos and/or video, then a ‘real’ viewing may not be necessary.

We strongly recommend that physical viewings should be limited to no more than two members of the same household and, unless absolutely necessary, we would suggest that children do not attend the viewing.

As the agent, we will be going out of our way to make all parties aware of their responsibilities, and go through our own checklists to ensure that safe and sensible practices are observed by everyone.

Whenever a physical viewing is deemed appropriate, we’ll ensure that the property is prepared by the owner, paying particular attention to:

- having the property thoroughly cleaned before the viewing;

- disinfecting all keys, door handles, frames and other accessible surfaces;

- leaving all internal doors open;

- allow the visitors access to handwashing facilities, ideally with separate towels/paper towels.

Our advice to sellers is that they should, wherever possible, stay outside the property whilst viewings are taking place in order to minimise contact, and allow us, the agent, to accompany the visitors, whilst maintaining a safe distance, and wearing suitable protective equipment – such as masks and gloves – throughout the viewing.

And once the viewing has taken place, we ask the homeowner to clean keys, surfaces and door handles with standard household cleaning products, using towels that can be disposed of safely or washed as appropriate.

Advice to viewers

Both sides must take their own precautions, so we also ask all visitors to:

  • wash their hands as soon as possible before and after the viewing
  • take their own hand sanitiser
  • wear facemasks and gloves if possible
  • stay at least 2 metres away from anyone who is not a member of their household
  • avoid touching any surfaces or other items in the property.

So what happens next?

Whilst it is unclear at this time exactly how quickly we can return to the way things were, the process of making offers, generating documentation and signing them will continue, utilising technology and remote communications so far as is possible.

Clearly the more physical needs of conducting surveys and – ultimately – removals, and moving in or out of a property will still be subject to the prevailing social distancing rules, but none of these obstacles is insurmountable.

It may be many months before things return to ‘normal’, and that normality may not be the same as the one we were used to.

But gradually, we will return to buying and selling and renting properties, and we – as your agents – are taking the lead in ensuring that it can still be done without any undue risk to your health.

If you have any questions or concerns about viewings, or any other aspect of buying, selling or renting a property in these changing times, Mark Newton and the Compass Residential team is on hand to help. Just call 020 3903 6660 or email markn@compassresidential.co.uk