Since the time of writing this blog, anti-Covid restrictions have eased in the UK. However, the Government has handed over much of the responsibility to companies to decide how best to safely operate their business and to put preventative measures in place for their staff and customers. In Britannia’s opinion and that of our trade body the BAR, we believe that some caution remains necessary to protect our valued customers and employees. For that reason, our own safety protocols remain in place and our advice via this and other blogs continues to encourage a ‘safety first’ mentality.
As Covid restrictions begin to ease, we’re still being advised to stay vigilant to reduce the spread of the virus. The housing market saw huge constraints during the lockdowns, but now people can visit properties in person and with less regulations. However, you will still want to view your future home in the safest way possible, so here are our tips on staying healthy whilst house hunting.
Start with virtual
One of the safest ways to view property during the pandemic is to do so virtually. Physical viewings were banned completely in the first lockdown, so property agents are now able to conduct virtual viewings, meaning you can take an initial look at the property without having to leave your home. However, you may want to follow up this virtual viewing with an in-person visit. In a recent survey, it was found that half of people who bought a home during the pandemic regret how much they paid for it, and 92% discovered issues within their homes that they hadn’t noticed in their initial viewing. A physical viewing will mean you can pick up on the smaller details, like traffic levels in the area, or crumbling brickwork.
Follow the guidelines
Once you’ve had your initial virtual viewing, you can take the next step to view in person. Make sure you’re up to date with the current Government advice regarding the use of facial coverings and indoor gatherings. Whilst face masks are currently not mandatory, if you would prefer everyone attending to wear a face covering, the property agent should be able to accommodate this for you. As of 19th July, gatherings indoors can consist of a group of any size from two households – so the whole family can view the property if desired (although keeping numbers to a minimum when in confined spaces is still advisable). You may need to discuss how many people will be attending with the property agent, so they can ensure guidelines are followed and the viewing is conducted safely.
Keep it sanitary
When viewing a property during Covid, avoid touching surfaces wherever possible, especially in furnished and occupied households. Of course, you may wish to open cupboards to check storage spaces, open doors to check rooms – in this instance, make sure to wash your hands regularly, or use hand sanitiser. Your property agent should organise for the home to be sanitised before and after each viewing, with a focus on high touch surfaces such as door handles. You can discuss the cleaning process with your property manager to ensure you are happy with it. Social distancing whilst viewing the property should take place in line with the current guidance.
Keep it ventilated
When discussing with your property agent the best measures to take to ensure a safe viewing, you may want to request that all internal doors are left open. This will reduce the need to touch surfaces and help to increase air flow through the property. If appropriate, you might also suggest that windows are opened before and during your viewing, to further increase ventilation of fresh air and decrease the risk of contamination.
Avoid open houses
Open house viewings, with multiple households attending, should not take place at this point in the pandemic. When viewing an occupied home, there should not be any spontaneous viewings. They should be arranged by appointment only, so the occupier has enough notice to either vacate the property or keep to different rooms when you are viewing.
If you have to travel to another part of the country to view a property, you can do so with little restrictions. You and your household can stay overnight in hotels and other such accommodation with no limits on numbers, although you may need to follow individual business practices regarding face coverings and social distancing. Some areas of the country are suffering higher infection rates than others, so you may want to check this prior to booking viewings. These areas may have specific guidelines that you will have to follow.
If you have symptoms of Covid, however mild, or you have had a positive Covid test result, or if you have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace, you should not attend a physical viewing of a property. You should follow the current guidelines relating to self-isolation at home, and rearrange the property viewing accordingly. Contact details for every individual attending the viewing should be obtained by your property agent – these may be needed for contact tracing purposes, or in case there is a need to rearrange the viewing last minute.
Once you have viewed your future property safely and know it’s the one for you, it’s time to organise the move. Get a free quote for your removals and use the Britannia Movers App to conduct a remote survey without the need for a home visit.