Estate agents open: Can I go to a house viewing now? What are the government guidelines?

The Government has said 450,000 people have been unable to progress their moving plans since the lockdown was enforced. Since March 23 all non-essential businesses have closed their doors to the public. Estate agents fell into this category and have been working remotely.

Many estate agents have been speaking to clients over the phone or on video calls rather than in person.

But this has now changed with the relaxing of the lockdown restrictions.

New rules put into action from Wednesday, May 13 have changed the way estate agents are interacting with clients.

The new regulations do not specifically refer to estate agents and moving home.

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They include:

  • People are now permitted to undertake unlimited exercise outside their homes.
  • People can visit one person outside their household if they maintain social distancing.
  • Mandating the public wear face coverings in crowded places.
  • Members of the same household are allowed to undertake sports outside their home together.
  • Everyone who is unable to undertake their work from home should return to the workplace.
  • Pupils will return to school gradually with Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 returning from June 1.
  • Childminders can return to work as part of the Government’s plans to enable employees to return to the workplace.
  • Public transport should be avoided as much as possible, instead, people are advised to drive, walk or cycle as much as possible.
  • Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality business must remain closed until the beginning of July at the earliest.
  • Reopening non-essential shops including hairdressers and beauty salons will only be done.

Can I go to a house viewing now?

While the work of estate agents and moving home isn’t directly mentioned in this list, viewing properties can now be classified as a reasonable excuse to be outside your home.

Both buyers and renters are now permitted to attend property viewings.

The government has advised that home movers should conduct the majority of their searches online, but you will be able to meet up with an agent for a viewing.

Viewings will be arranged by appointment, and social distancing measures will apply throughout the entire meeting.

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Both viewers and estate agents must wash their hands as soon as they enter the property, and it is advised that you bring your own hand sanitiser.

Viewers and agents should wear a face mask where possible, and avoid touching surfaces in the property.

Current occupants should vacate the premises if they can, to minimise contact with other households.

After each viewing, property owners or tenants should clean the surfaces and door handles.

Access to hand-washing facilities should be granted, and separate towels or paper towels should be provided and either immediately washed or disposed of after the meeting.

Are estate agents’ officers open?

Estate agents offices are allowed to reopen. However, the government has asked companies to adhere to a set of workplace safety rules. Find them here.

Clients are only allowed in the office with an appointment, and estate agents must ask if anyone in their household is showing symptoms before accepting the appointment or arranging a viewing.

Agents should offer a virtual house viewing to start with, only suggesting an in-person viewing when the buyer or tenant is considering making an offer.

Open house viewings are not allowed, and agents cannot drive clients to appointments.

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