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Changes To ‘Open House’ Viewings

The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly thrown a lot of things up in the air with regards to the ‘normal’ way we do things.

It’s also had an impact on the UK economy, forcing organisations across a variety of sectors to change the way they conduct their day to day business.

For the property market, this pandemic has thrown some curve balls, but the sector as a whole seems to be attempting to adapt and recover.

Conducting ‘open house’ viewings

Todayswillsandprobate.co.uk spoke to Heidi Jenkins from Executor Solutions (part of Moving Made Easy), who revealed how they changed the way they conducted their ‘open house’ viewings and maintenance works as a result of the guidance issued by the Government.

With regards to ‘Open Houses’, the Government guidance stated:

“All physical viewings should be limited to members of the same household and open house viewings should not take place.”

This guidance was issued as the country began to enter lockdown on 23rd March 2020. However, the threat of corona virus was already around pre-lockdown.

Executor Solutions started to become aware of this, and as a result began to implement some changes to their ‘Open House’ style viewings which predominantly took place on properties undergoing probate but incorporated all of their empty properties they acted for.

“Prior to lock down, we saw that people were becoming concerned regarding the spread of the disease. To make the people we dealt with feel more confident and reassured, we implemented 15 minute bookings instead of en masse open house viewings. This corresponded with the Government guidance and enabled us to work during lock down.”

15 minute slots

This meant that prospective buyers had a 15 minute slot to arrive, view and depart the property. Although we tended to leave a bit of time between appointments, instead of having them back to back.

“At the time, we believed, and still do believe that this is the best approach. As it ensures people from the same household are inside the property at any one time.”

The appointment system implemented by the firm, didn’t just encompass prospective buyers. Any contractors that were needed to conduct the work also adhered to pre-booked appointments to reduce the amount of people in the house. This coupled with the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) helped to once again reassure and reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Easing of lockdown

Now lock down is beginning to ease in various guises across the UK. In England, some children will be returning to school next month, and non-essential shops will begin to open their doors. However, any setting needs to ensure that it’s Covid-19 secure.

Todayswillsandprobate.co.uk asked Heidi, whether she felt that this appointment based system was going to be the new way of working post Covid-19 or would we see a return to open house viewings taking place en masse once more.

“In the short-term this will be the way ‘open house’ viewings are conducted, due to the Government guidance. Other tours can also be utilised to give those who can’t physically get out and view a property the chance to take a look. 360 degree and video tours have been popular, but it all depends on what services agents are able to offer.

“With regards to the long-term, I think it’s difficult to say. At the moment, it’s all about taking one day at a time and ensuring we can do all we can to help the sector bounce back, whilst keeping everyone safe.”

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