As the country gears up for the potential prospect of a pandemic, what are the implications for home movers and how are we, as estate agents, rising to our responsibilities?
The property market is currently enjoying renewed strength following years of Brexit doldrums, during which it proved highly resilient. Is it also immune to Coronavirus? Probably! All accounts suggest that the virus, especially in the UK, is likely to be temporary, not least because of our exceptional healthcare and medical research facilities. Over 98% of most people who get the disease are likely to recover (Source: NEJM) whereas there is an annual average of 17,000 flu-related deaths (of mostly elderly sufferers) in England, with tens of millions affected (source PHE). So we already have a major outbreak of a contagious disease that has had no noticeable bearing on the property market.
The great British public are famously good at keeping calm and carrying on. This especially applies to serious home movers, who tend to be driven by deeper longer-term macro life changes such as a job move, marriage, children, divorce, debt, etc. These movers are unlikely to allow such an illness (if they get it) to put their plans on hold, just as they would not let a dose of flu deter them either.
The announced Bank of England base rate cut from 0.75% to 0.25% will also encourage buyers to take advantage of this record low lending rate, which is of course great for sellers aiming to secure the best price for their property.
However, there is no place for complacency, so we, as a responsible community-minded estate agency have already taken steps to help buyers and sellers stay safe:
1. We are making increasing use of video tours which we talk through with buyers on the phone, helping them to identify serious contenders without the need to view them all physically at the outset.
2. We encourage our buyers and sellers not to shake hands – with us or anyone else – for the time being. Knocking elbows, tapping feet or air high-5s are fun new way of greeting people safely.
3. We have trained all our staff in healthy sneezing/coughing etiquette and they also have hand sanitisers with them, which they are encouraged to share with anyone involved in a viewing.
4. All our computer keyboards, surfaces and door handles are disinfected twice daily.
5. During a viewing we urge sellers not to be at the property – ideally leave the viewings to the agent.
It’s nice to know that we might be able to play a part in your health as well as your wealth! Fancy a chat? Please don’t pop into the office for the time being – the safest way is to phone us on 01227 362248.