Coping with Corona

James Greenwood of Stacks Property Search says, “None of us know how this crisis is going to play out, but as buying agents our job is to continue to look after our clients, and others that we deal with, in a safe and responsible manner. To this end, we have effected a protocol that has been rolled out across our seventeen offices.

“Our business is a human business, but it’s not a mass activity, and involves a handful of people at most at any one time in, usually, a private place. Our protocol is designed to reduce risk to an absolute minimum.”

“And we feel that the UK residential property market should continue to trade throughout the crisis.’’

1. Internal meetings:

  1. We have 17 offices, but they’re all separate – we’re self-isolated from each other. All non-essential meetings are cancelled, to enable us to maintain a healthy workforce.
  2. All internal meetings will, with immediate effect, be conducted remotely.

2. Taking the client brief

This is traditionally undertaken in our clients’ home, but for many years we’ve been using technology for the occasions when this isn’t possible.

Recommendation: Primary method of taking initial client brief should be via phone, FaceTime, Teams etc

3. Viewing properties on clients’ behalf

  1. Any Stacks personnel with a dry cough or fever immediately self-isolates and only conducts business remotely.
  2. We enter the property with clean hands, soap and water, hand gel, surgical gloves.
  3. We request that the estate agent does no more than let us in to the property. All Stacks personnel are registered, insured, and overseen by The Property Ombudsman.
  4. If the vendors are at home, we suggest they don’t walk us around the property.
  5. We maintain a distance of at least 1m at all times.

4. Showing clients around a suitable property 

As for 3 with the additional protocols:

  1. We meet the client at the premises.
  2. Client is provided with hand gel, soap and water, surgical gloves prior to entering the property.
  3. Stacks personnel conduct the viewing with agent or vendor accompanying at a distance.
  4. A distance of at least 1m maintained at all times.
  5. Where our client is uncomfortable with the risks associated with a viewing, we will provide extensive information in the form of plans and photographs/video, and will happily conduct a virtual tour while the client is online.

5. Negotiating:

  1. Negotiations are generally conducted over the telephone, as is conveyancing. There’s a concern that solicitors’ offices will shut down; we will check the protocols of solicitors with whom our clients are concerned to ensure they will be working from home.
  2. Surveyors are famous for being a solitary breed, and the last thing they want is the shadow of the vendor hanging over them. We will check they have their own protocols in place.

6. Moving in:

  1. Recommend that clients check removal company’s protocols.
  2. Recommend that clients organise a deep clean once the vendors have moved out.

7. General

  1. Go out of our way to meet clients’ and vendors’ needs during this time.

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