Housing minister drawing up plans for agents to resume work

May 4, 2020

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Housing minister Chris Pincher is drawing up guidelines which could allow agents to return to something like normal working in the near future.

According to the Mail on Sunday he has already discussed guidelines with some agents, conveyancers and removal firms; in the coming days there will be also be a video session with NAEA Propertymark. 

Last week’s discussions focused on how viewings could be held under social distancing; some recommendations echo those outlined recently by the NAEA.

These include ‘contactless’ viewings where all doors and cupboards would be left open to reduce buyers’ contact with surfaces, and with owners either vacating the homes or waiting in gardens or cars where appropriate.

Prospective buyers themselves would wear gloves and possibly face masks during viewings, and there would be limits on the number of viewings per day at any one property.

Vendors would be expected to have thoroughly cleaned properties before viewings and communal areas may have to be disinfected.

These proposals are being assessed by Public Health England and final guidelines could be agreed within two weeks, says the paper.

Meanwhile lenders are likely to become more reliant on automated valuations, and conveyancers accept more electronic signatures.

The practical measures being considered by Pincher and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government appear similar to those proposed by the NAEA. However the agents’ body also wants more help for buyers through a loan of £1,500 to purchasers upon completion, and a stamp duty holiday.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has already revealed that it will shortly release new guidelines for valuers.

Meanwhile a leading business group has called for the government to“immediately” set out its plans for relaxing the lockdown.

The British Chambers of Commerce - which represents tens of thousands of companies employing almost six million people across the UK - has written to Boris Johnson.

It says planning and communication of the government's approach to leaving lockdown "must begin immediately if we are to harness the public health and economic benefits".

 

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