Five Important Steps that you must Take Before Viewing Properties During COVID-19

Since the government amended the coronavirus regulations for the property industry, essentially meaning that the home moving process can start again, a large number of people have begun to make plans following many weeks of isolation.

While this is exciting, the threat of coronavirus is still very much there, and most estate agency processes have had to change to keep staff and customers safe, which has to be of paramount importance.

What many people have perhaps overlooked is that the government advice is still to delay moving if you can. However, if moving now is a priority, it can be done safely, providing extreme measures are taken by everyone involved.

There are five things that you can and should do before you embark on viewing properties. In fact, all of these things should be considered in any regular market, regardless of current safety concerns, but now more than ever they must be adhered to limit the number of viewings taking place ‘in-person.’

1. Understand your financial position – lending criteria has changed:

All estate agents have a duty of care to confirm the financial position of a buyer before they agree on a sale of a property, which will include proof of where the funds to purchase the property are coming from. This is usually done at the point an offer is made.

However, estate agents are now likely to want this information at the viewing stage to ensure they are dealing with serious buyers only, to limit the number of people moving around homes while coronavirus is still a threat.

You might think that because you have a healthy deposit and a good job that you will quickly get a mortgage. While this might be the case, lending criteria has changed significantly since lockdown and what you thought might work for you before, whether you had a decision in principle from a bank or not, might not work for you now, particularly if you have been furloughed. The LTV’s (loan to values) that banks are prepared to lend are a lot lower at the moment, meaning you might need a considerably higher deposit.  You must get up to date advice from a mortgage broker.

2. If you need to sell your property to buy, get it on the market:

“My property is immaculate, and on a really popular road, it will sell quickly.”

“I don’t want to market my property until I have found somewhere else. If it sells quickly, I will have nowhere to go.”

These are just two things estate agents hear most days.  If you fall into either of these categories, now more than ever, you need to seriously consider marketing your home. It is likely that most estate agents will not allow people to view properties if they are not in an immediate position to proceed.

If your property does sell fast and you haven’t found, don’t worry. As long as your agent is transparent with any interested party about your circumstances from the start, they should be able to work to your timescales when finding a new home.

Also, competition is fierce. There are not enough properties coming to the market to satisfy demand. The best properties will always have multiple people going for them. If you are not in a position to proceed, or on the market with interest, you are highly likely to miss out. Put yourself in the vendors’ shoes; would you prefer to sell to someone who has sold subject to contract and has a mortgage in place or someone who hasn’t even had their property valued and needs to sell to buy?

3. Make sure you view the video tour:

Although nothing beats seeing a property in person, right now, the safety of everyone involved in the buying and selling process is the most important thing. Video tours should give a good overview of the property and at least help you decide whether it makes your shortlist. View this before you pick up the phone to book a viewing in person.

4. Make use of the features on the likes of Rightmove & Zoopla:

Rightmove and Zoopla have some fantastic features that should help you decide whether a property and area are right for you. There are additional tabs which show you where the schools are and what the Ofsted reports are like. There are station checkers so you can see how far a walk it is for your work commute. The maps link directly to Google so you can see the street view or where the local pubs are. Make use of these tools before you arrange a physical viewing.

5. Have a drive-by the house and check the area

If possible, have a quick drive by the property and around the area before you confirm a viewing. Most estate agents will tell you that a large percentage of people they meet often give feedback that the area wasn’t right for them. In the busy day to day life, it can be hard to make time to tick all of these boxes before you view a property, but right now if you can spare the time, have a quick look before you arrange a physical viewing. The property might be perfect, but the location is often the most important factor when moving home, so do your research before confirming that viewing.

So, there you have it. Five important steps that will help put you in the best shape when viewing properties but also help keep everyone safe during the home moving process by limiting the number of viewings taking place to serious buyers only.

For a full copy of WeLocate’s COVID-19 viewing policy, click HERE.

David Warburton
Managing Director