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Response to Coronavirus / Covid-19

January 2021- Nationwide lockdown until mid March, but this doesn't include the housing market!

Taking extra safety precautions is all that's needed for buyers, sellers, landlords and renters to continue.

Please Note: As government guidance changes so too will the contents of this page. Please check back regularly for the latest advice.

Latest Updates

January 2021 - Lockdown number 3 but business as usual for the housing market. We had great success during the last lockdown, achieving an average of 103% over the asking price for our sellers using our trademarked Property Launch method and digital dominance strategies. We will continue to follow strict safety guidelines to keep you and our staff safe, and the image below will refresh your memory if you are wondering how home visits will take place.

Viewing Policy

Links

Please see below for more detailed information about how our practices have changed to adapt to the current conditions.


5th November 2020 - According to Robert Jenrick (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government) the property market will remain open during the national lockdown.

In order to sell or let your property safely, we are following strict safety guidelines.
For more a more detailed breakdown of safety measures visit our sell safe page, but simply put the following safety measures should be taken (we already follow all these measures in any event).

  • Only two households in a property at any time. This includes Preston Baker staff. So if we are carrying out a viewing with a buyer, the homeowner will need to vacate.
  • Wear masks
  • Wash hand
  • Sanitise surfaces
  • Open windows to provide airflow
  • If you have any symptoms of covid, or have had any symptoms in the last two weeks, do not attend a viewing or have an agent in your property to perform a valuation.

With the stamp duty holiday, it is still an amazing time to sell to take advantage of those savings. Which means the market is still strong, and buyer interest is still at record highs for this time of year. It's not just stamp duty savings that is driving the market, people are also looking to move as they see the limitations of their own properties during lockdown and would like a bigger property / something closer to the outdoors / space for a home office / better internet connections etc. The housing market is incredibly buoyant right now.

30th October 2020 - The government has introduced Tier 3 restrictions on West Yorkshire. What do Very High Level / Tier 3 restrictions mean for homemovers?

Firstly, this isn’t going to slow down the housing market, prevent people from viewing properties, or prevent a sale from going through. If anything we’d anticipate that demand to move will only increase as homeowners feel the limitations of their own properties. Coupled with the current stamp duty holiday, interest in moving house for buyers and sellers will continue to increase over the next few months.

If you’re in a Tier 3 area such as Doncaster, or West Yorkshire then the following Tier 3 restrictions apply.

  1. You must not meet anybody outside of your household or support bubble in an indoor or outdoor setting, unless this is a public space such as a park or beach, where the rule of six will apply.
  2. It is also advised that you do not travel into or out of these areas, other than for work, education, care responsibilities or accessing youth services.

You can read the full breakdown of tier three restrictions on the government website.

The government does not state that in-person viewings are banned in tier 3 regions. Government guidance on home moving.

The choice to have someone in your home viewing a property is yours. However, we would recommend your home is treated as business premises and that you take appropriate safety precautions.

To conduct a viewing safely all our staff follow strict safety precautions, and we ask all property sellers to follow the same guidelines if you are having viewers in your home.

If you are not comfortable having viewers into your home, or if you’re a buyer not comfortable with entering someone else's home, then we do offer virtual viewings on all our properties. We also film a 3D tour for every single property we bring to market.

For tenants in Tier 2 or 3 regions, there is an agreement between bailiffs and the government that you cannot be evicted while high or very high level restrictions are in place.

25th September 2020 - the government have imposed tighter restrictions on Leeds residents. You can now no longer mix with other households in your home or garden, nor meet other households in Pubs and Restaurants. See this BBC article for full details.

What does this mean for you moving house, or selling your property? Ultimately, it’s going to have very little impact. The restrictions do not apply when visiting a home is to facilitate moving house. There are also exemptions for people attending your property for work purposes. This means that people can still attend your property to carry out valuations, and buyers / tenants can still attend your property to carry out a viewing. We have been carrying out covid safe viewings and covid safe valuation procedures all the way through the crisis, when permitted, and this will continue.

22nd September 2020 - the government have imposed tighter restrictions on the wearing of masks within retail and hospitality spaces. Inline with COVID-19 guidelines we are closely managing access to our branches.

To protect our staff and the community, physical access to our branches will be available by a locked door policy. Our branches are open, but you will not be able to walk straight in. This gives us time to ensure that Preston Baker staff and anyone entering into the communal branch areas are wearing masks to keep all parties safe. Should a visitor not have a mask, one will be provided.

The majority of our work is conducted on the phone, via email or in people’s homes; so where possible we would ask that these avenues are explored first before you visit a branch location. We are also limited by the number of people allowed in a branch at any one time, therefore it would be helpful if you could let us know in advance if you do wish to visit us. We can then make sure there is someone on hand to meet with you. If there are members of the public already in the branch, it may be that you have to wait for them to leave before you can enter.

We have signed up to the NHS track and trace system, and an appropriate QR code will be posted at the branches. We ask that all visitors please log their visit with us to help the NHS keep up.

To make an appointment to visit a branch you can contact your local team.

All our systems are web based (including our phones) allowing us to continue working remotely in the same professional manner as always, using all the same methods of communication.

8th July 2020 - The government continue to support the Housing Market by introducing a Stamp Duty holiday on properties that are purchased for £500,000 or below. For more information see our stamp duty changes page.

13th May 2020 - The government have eased restrictions regarding the housing market. They are allowing people to view properties in person, as well as allowing house moves to take place. Whilst this is not a return to how things were pre-outbreak, it does allow buyers and sellers to complete their sales and move property, and opens up viewings to take place in person (so long as the appropriate safety measures are adhered to).

Guidance

The latest government information related specifically to home movers can be found here

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

In a nutshell viewings, valuations, exchanges and completions can now take place, either virtually or in person. We'd like to point out that the guidance does state that where things can be done virtually they should, particularly viewings. This helps reduce risk to those taking part. Should you have a clear commitment to buying a property after you have seen it virtually, then a meeting will be arranged to view the property in person.

Visiting Property

We will be visiting properties where necessary, or where a client would prefer a face to face meeting. When attending properties we will be adhering to strict infection prevention controls, and we would ask that you do the same. Where possible please ensure that the number of individuals in a property is minimised.

Infection Prevention Controls

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  2. Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  3. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  4. Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  5. Avoid touching your face as much as possible
  6. Avoid greeting by shaking hands or other physical contact
  7. Maintain at least 2m from yourself and other non-household members
  8. Do not leave your home or meet with anyone if you have either:
    - a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
    - a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

Preston Baker staff are also employing additional measures with gloves and facemasks.

Postal Contact

We would ask, where possible, to communicate through email. If you need to make a cheque payment through the post, please ensure it arrives in branch by the due date, or alternatively speak with us to arrange alternative electronic means of payment. We would ask for payment electronically (bacs or faster payments).

Sellers / Vendors / Landlords - Currently on the market

We will continue to market your property to any interested party. The majority of our marketing is digital and can continue where requested. With properties now open for viewing in person, we will be seeking your preference in this regard. If you would prefer for viewings to be carried out virtually, we will do so.

We have the technology available to create a full 3D tour of your property. For some this will be included in your marketing already, for others this would be an additional cost. We have added an example video below.

3D Virtual Tour Example

We can also educate you on how to perform a virtual walk-through with an interested party using a video call through Zoom, should you need to self-isolate for any reason.

How to install Zoom

Seller / Vendors / Landlords - Looking to come to market

We will be performing valuations in person with appropriate safety measures in place as standard, though we can perform a valuation of your property using a video call should you wish.

In Person Valuation - Should you wish a valuation in person, we will bring to the meeting a variety of safety equipment for the valuer and the client. Where possible we'd ask for there to be as few people in the property as possible, to help minimise risk. Our Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) will include (but is not limited to) face masks, gloves, hand sanitiser and cleaning wipes.

Virtual Valuation - If you do not feel comfortable having people in your property right now, you can still put your house on the market using virtual technology. You can give us a tour of your property using a phone or tablet, and we can share our screen with you to give you relevant information surrounding the housing market and the various marketing options we have available.

We use a web based platform called Zoom. Instructions on how to install Zoom to your device are below.

How to install Zoom

Whilst you are waiting for the date of your valuation appointment, you can:

  1. Get everything else in your property ready prior to coming to market. Check out our "How to Stage Your Property" guide to help get your property in the best shape possible. You may have more time on your hands now, so this could be something to help prevent boredom whilst also improving the appeal of your property.
  2. Take photos yourself providing you have a decent enough camera / phone camera. Turn your phone sideways so you take horizontal photos. For more advice on taking your own photos read our Property Photography Guide.
  3. Take a video of each room in your property and send it through to us, and we can edit it and add music and text.

If you’re feeling the need to sell you can be sure there are more people out there feeling the need to buy, and this is just as true for people looking to move rental properties.

Buyers / Applicants

If you are looking to buy or rent a property you may find viewing a property in person to still be restricted, depending on the preferences of the seller or tenant that lives in the property. Though the option to view in person is now sanctioned by the government, the guidance does state to minimise face to face meetings where possible. Simply put, some clients have medical conditions that make them high risk, or they may not wish to have people in their homes whilst the corona virus is still out there.

Where possible we are providing Video and 3D Tours of properties to help in these scenarios.

Where not possible we are educating our Vendors / Sellers / Landlords how to host a video call to show you round the property virtually.

If a Vendor / Landlord / Tenant is happy to allow people into their property, we will be taking precautions to keep everyone safe.

Valuations

Can now be carried out in person as well as virtually.

Should you wish a valuation in person, we will bring to the meeting a variety of safety equipment for the valuer and the client. Where possible we'd ask for there to be as few people in the property as possible, to help minimise risk. Our Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) will include (but is not limited to) face masks, gloves, hand sanitiser and cleaning wipes.

For virtual valuations we use a web platform called Zoom to video call you in the comfort of your home. You can give us a guided tour of your property where we can have a conversation and ask questions. Once we have appraised your property, take a seat and we can screen share our findings and discuss your marketing options with you.

How to install Zoom

Viewings

We can now carry out viewings virtually and in person. Where we have a 3D Video Tour this should suffice. If you want a more detailed look we can offer virtual viewings where the vendor is willing and able to do so. We would recommend using Zoom as a method to connect buyers and sellers, tenants and landlords.

For in-person viewings, we will request that you view the property virtually first. This will help give you an idea as to whether this property is for you, and in cases where it isn't prevents unnecessary contact between individuals. Once you have viewed the property virtually, you will be able to book an appointment to view in person. We will bring to the viewing a variety of safety equipment for the buyer and the agent. Our Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) will include (but is not limited to) face masks, gloves, hand sanitiser and cleaning wipes.

These are the current safety measures we have in place and we ask property owners and viewers to abide by these rules.

  1. If you are showing any of the following symptoms now or in the past 14 days, or develop any of these symptoms prior to the appointment, please cancel and rearrange the appointment.
    • High temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
    • New, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
    • Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
  2. If you have been in contact with anyone you know to have, or suspect having Covid-19 / Coronavirus in the last 14 days the meeting should not go ahead.
  3. If you are in the “clinically extremely vulnerable” or “clinically vulnerable” groups, the meeting should not go ahead. If you are not sure if you fit into this category you can find more information on the NHS Website
  4. Abide by a strict 2 Metre social distancing policy at all times.
  5. The number of people in a property must be minimised. No more than two adults from the same household per viewing at any one time. Where Preston Baker are handling the viewing the property owner and family will be asked to vacate the property during the viewing. If the property owner is handling the viewing, they will be asked to keep the number of residents in the property to two or fewer.
  6. Where the meeting is carried out by Preston Baker we will arrive early to sanitise the property. Our agent will sanitise their hands, wear gloves and wear a visor and/or face mask during the viewing. We ask that you do the same, and we can provide this equipment for you should you need it. Please let us know in advance if you need these items.
  7. Where the meeting is carried out by the property owner, they will be requested to sanitise the property thoroughly. We ask that all parties sanitise their hands, wear gloves and a face mask during the viewing. Refusal to wear such protection may result in the viewing not taking place. We can provide this equipment for you should you need it. Please let us know in advance if you need these items.
  8. Windows and internal doors will be opened to facilitate clean air and easy access to each room without the need to touch anything.
  9. A hand basin with soap will be available for washing (if needed).
  10. You will not be able to use the toilet when viewing the property.

Landlords of Fully Managed Properties

Face to face inspections will be resuming where tenants feel comfortable letting people into their homes. For those tenants who do not wish a visit in person, we will arrange inspections by video call where possible. This will allow us a chance to look at the property until the restrictions on social distancing are lifted.

This is just a temporary measure to ensure your investment is being treated well in the meantime, and we will of course perform a full face-to-face inspection once we are able to do so.

Tenants of Fully Managed Properties

We understand this is a very troubling time for yourselves and many of you may be concerned in regards to rental payments. Regretfully, we have not been given any information from the Government or the Association of Residential Lettings Agents with clear guidance for landlords.

We are still working for you and with you and will continue to do so for as long as we are able.

We encourage all our tenants to report issues via our online reporting system.

We will continue to work on all maintenance requests but we will continue to prioritise emergencies as outlined in the tenant handbook.

If you are having concerns with paying your rent during this time please contact your property manager

Leeds, Doncaster, Sheffieldrebekkah.silveira@prestonbaker.co.uk

York & Selbycharlotte.nicholson@prestonbaker.co.uk

We will speak to your landlord in regards to any concerns and work on your behalf to come to the best solutions moving forward.