As the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has issued guidance on buying and selling homes during the stay-at-home period, and it is crucial estate agents work within these guidelines. At Hunters Forest Hill, we are proud to say everything we do is aimed at providing our clients with the highest standard of service, even during challenging times.
It is fair to say these are challenging times, and there has been a lot said about the housing industry. As you’ll know, or at least expect, our offices are closed. Given the need to practice social-distancing, this is perfectly understandable. However, we are still operating, and we are pleased to say we are serving clients while behaving per Government guidance.
While the Government has urged people to be adaptable and flexible when it comes to property transactions, at no point, have they informed agents or clients to pull out of property transactions. We understand if individuals and households have their thoughts on moving home right now, and act accordingly, but equally, we know many people will retain a keen interest in the market.
Therefore, while adhering to Government advice on moving house and social-distancing, we are still here to assist you, if you require our help.
What has the Government advised estate agents to do?
If you are considering a move, or you are in the process of moving home, you will want to know what the Government has advised agents like ourselves to do. The first piece of guidance is that “estate agents should ensure they can support clients during this period”. This is something we are happy to do, and in one sense, this is business as usual for the team at Hunters Forest Hill.
Additional support is to be offered to those with symptoms
A vital point of the advice issued to estate agents is that support should be prioritised for anyone with symptoms, who is shielding from the virus, or who is self-isolating. Agents are also advised to prioritise support for people who are part of a chain. All of these people will be offered priority support in agreeing on a new date for their property move.
Agents should close their offices
As you will know, Hunters branches across the country are temporarily closed, and agents are advised to not visit people’s homes right now. However, agents are able to work from home, and our employees are offering support to clients and welcoming new clients daily.
As anyone who knows an estate agent, or who has dealt with one, the role of an estate agent can be an around the clock position. All the team at Hunters Forest Hill regularly assist clients while working from home and outside traditional office hours.
Right now, there is a need for agents to be flexible. Many people find their standard work schedule has been altered, and may not be free to communicate with ourselves in the recognised building hours. We aim to provide a prominent level of support at a time that best suits our clients, and again, we believe we can achieve this within the current recommended guidelines.
The final piece of advice offered to estate agents was to advise clients to be patient and try to minimise the risks presented by the Coronavirus. While this is something we are happy to adhere to, we believe this is pertinent to all industries, not just the housing market. These are unprecedented times, many people feel under a higher level of stress and pressure than they typically feel, and we’ll all benefit by being more understanding and patient at this time.
Mark Hayward is the Chief Executive of NAEA Propertymark, and he has spoken about the guidance issued by the Government. Mark said; “This advice gives long-awaited clarity for home buyers and sellers after some previous mixed messages. The new advice does enable some moves to take place but under prescribed conditions. We now look to lenders to take a pragmatic approach and facilitate extensions on mortgage offers.”
Mark continued by saying; “Agents should nurture any deals that are currently agreed upon and keep both buyers and sellers informed as the situation develops. Health and safety are imperative, so we urge anyone who can stay home to do so.”
Government advice for conveyancers and solicitors
The Government has also issued information for conveyancers and solicitors, which some members of the public will be keen to know.
Conveyancers have been advised to:
• Maintain support for sales of unoccupied properties as best they can
• Endeavour to support clients who are expected to complete the purchase of vacant property in the stay at home period, and if required, assist in changing the moving date
• Provide as much support and guidance for clients who are close to exchanging contracts on an occupied property
• Prioritise the standard of support for any client who has symptoms, who is self-isolating or who is shielding from the virus; and assist them in finding the most suitable date to move
There has also been guidance issued to surveyors, reiterating that people shouldn’t be attending people’s homes unless required. Also, no inspections should take place in the house where a person is showing symptoms of the virus, is self-isolating or is shielding from the infection. If at all possible, surveys should be carried out on empty properties.
While no one is sure how long the current situation will last for, you can rest assured Hunters Forest Hill will endeavour to provide you with the highest standard of service at all times.
At Hunters Forest Hill, we know selling property is challenging, but we are here to assist you in the process. If you aim to buy, sell, let your home or rent property, we are active in New Cross, Peckham, Dulwich and Brockley, in addition to Forest Hill, so get in touch with one of the top three agents in London, and we will be happy to assist you.