Many agents have been operating under Tier 4 Coronavirus restrictions for some days, but today sees another 20 million residents in England jointing this toughest tier of controls.
The new areas are in the Midlands, North East, parts of the North West and parts of the South West.
For those not previously operating under Tier 4, or those who have been away during the festive period, here are the official government guidelines for agents and those selling new-build homes.
Tier 4 -Estate Agents
Estate agency offices can remain open to the public in all 4 tiers. Estate agents agents should inform customers and their own staff about their Covid-19 procedures, so that they are safe throughout the sales process.
- Agents should ask whether any party is showing symptoms or has been asked to self-isolate before going ahead with any viewing, or visits to offices.
- Agents should inform visitors to their offices of the need to wear face coverings. Agents should ensure their offices are ‘Covid secure’ and that they take appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the disease. See guidance on making the workplace secure. Agents should wear face coverings while in close face-to-face contact with visitors and where other protective measures are unlikely to be in place, such as in clients’ homes during a viewing. See guidance on face coverings.
- Agents should strongly encourage clients to view properties virtually in the first instance and then only physically inspect properties which they have a strong interest in.
- Where they do not accompany the visit, they should make sure that both buyers and sellers clearly understand how the viewing should be conducted safely.
- Agents should avoid driving clients to appointments. Advise clients to find alternative means of travel including public transport, walking, cycling or using their own vehicle. If this is not possible, follow the latest guidance on travelling safely with others including the use of a face mask and cleaning the vehicle regularly.
- All parties viewing a property should wash their hands with soap and water (or hand sanitiser if not available) immediately after entering the properties, with internal doors opened and surfaces having been wiped down before they enter. Separate towels or paper towels should be used if possible and washed or disposed of safely after use.
- Agents should do what they can to promote flexibility when arranging move dates, for example advising clients to ensure contracts have explicit terms to manage the timing risks presented by coronavirus.
- Agents should work with their clients and other agents to broker a new date to move where sales are due to complete and one of the parties falls ill with coronavirus or has to self-isolate.
- Agents should ensure that any keys are appropriately cleaned before handover.
- Agents should ask clients whether they have returned to the UK from one of the countries not on the exception list. If clients have returned from a country on the quarantine list, agents can continue to progress their home move virtually until the quarantine period is over. See guidance on returning to the UK.
For agents wanting to see specific government guidance for Letting Agents and Landlords, please click here.
Tier 4 - Developers and new build sales
Developers can continue with sales during this period but should ensure that their sales teams follow the government’s safer working guidance. Developers should inform consumers and their own staff about their procedures, so that they are safe throughout the sales process.
- Where possible, developers should promote virtual viewings.
- Where physical viewings do take place, including visits to show homes, these should be by appointment with one household visiting one property at a time.
- Agents should inform visitors in advance of the need to wear face coverings. We would also recommend agents to wear face coverings while in face-to-face contact with visitors where social distancing is not possible and there are no physical safety measures in place. See guidance on face coverings.
- Developers should clean surfaces between viewings.
- For new reservations and contracts, developers should work with conveyancers to ensure contracts take account of the risks posed by coronavirus, including building in flexibility in case move dates need to change as a result of someone falling ill with coronavirus or needing to self-isolate.
- Developers should do what they can to support anyone with coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating, and those they are in chain with, to agree a new date.