A statement from Mark Hayward and David Cox, chief executives of the NAEA and ARLA, says: “It’s vital that agents continue to uphold the highest standards and follow best practice for their clients when undertaking valuations, viewings, inspections, maintenance and cleaning. Agents should remain transparent with their clients and maintain their compliance with the Consumer Protection Regulations.
“It’s important to be sensible, reasonable and think of what others might need during this period – particularly those who are more vulnerable. Government is predicting that COVID-19 will impact us for months so agencies need to plan for the long term and think carefully about business continuity.”
You can see the checklist here.
Secondly, a consumer guide that seems extremely sensible and level-headed, showing how viewings can be conducted in a safe manner. Our thanks to Paul James at Property Road for sending it to us. This is something agents could modify for their own websites or perhaps to pass to concerned clients. Here it is.
There’s more practical advice sent to us by Courtney Winterson of the Jackson Pyne agency in Milton Keynes - this applies to businesses generally but also with some excellent suggestions on things like video tours during this difficult period. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.
We’ve also been contacted by Sally Holdaway, the director at Teal Legal, a LawTech firm which works with many players at the heart of the residential sales industry. We’re reproducing part of her guidance below - it’s based on the assumption that the UK goes into some form of ‘lock-down’ soon, and so is a call for existing deals to be hurried.
Thanks to Sally for these words: “For any chance to get current deals through, agents and solicitors need to be speaking to their clients today, to take instructions. Clearly no one knows what precisely will happen, but it would seem sensible to be advising:
“1. Timings – at the moment it looks like, practically speaking, completion could take place within the next week. Beyond that there is no guarantee. Do they want to move this week, or would they prefer to delay?
“2. If the former, are the solicitors / the chain geared up to go this fast?
“3. If the latter then of course the deal may still proceed, but with each passing day the chance will be reduced. As a former conveyancer, and with so much uncertainty, (will the lenders be able to release funds, will removals still be available, who is financially responsible if the completion doesn’t happen due to CV etc etc) for clients who have not yet exchanged, and who do not want to proceed imminently, I would be advising not to exchange, until we are in more certain times. Others will no doubt be different, but, that’s my opinion.
“4. There is also a professional duty on lawyers and mortgage advisors, I would suggest to advise purchasers to review their finances. If a husband or wife were to lose their jobs, or be off with sickness, or extended period of time to look after children who are at home, will they still be able to afford the new mortgage?. They may decide, that for the time being, they would rather keep the deposit in their bank account.’”
And Sally concludes: “All in all, unless deals are grabbed by the scruff of their neck within the next day or two, then that may very well be it for the time being. Aside to all the disruption to clients, this will clearly have an impact on fee income and cashflow, in all likelihood for a period of somewhere between two and six months. There absolutely will be new ways of delivering value to clients and generating fee income which will evolve during this time, but for now, the focus, at least over the coming days should be on supporting the existing transactions over the line wherever possible.”
And a reminder of two webinars today. Firstly The Guild of Property Professionals’ chief executive Iain McKenzie is hosting a Facebook Live session on the Guild’s closed Facebook Group. It’s open to members only and offers advice on how to still win business from home, and tips on how to use a new video tool which is expected to be available to Guild agents from March 31.
The PropTech firm Goodlord is also arranging a webinar covering similar topics this morning.
Thanks for reading, please keep in touch and stay well. We’ll be helping the industry in its quest of Conquering Corona again tomorrow…