Blog » How house viewings in Northern Ireland might look after Coronavirus

How house viewings in Northern Ireland might look after Coronavirus

With the Northern Ireland property market reopening on Monday 15th June, Propertynews.com are wondering how house viewings in Northern Ireland might look after the Coronavirus pandemic. While the below guide highlights what you might expect at a property viewing, we recommend contacting your estate agent before attending for further guidance and information.

On the 13th May 2020, England’s property market reopened for business after 7.5 weeks in lockdown due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

In England, estate agents are now open, house-hunters can begin to view properties and removal firms and conveyancers have restarted their operations.

Meanwhile, the housing market in Northern Ireland is getting ready to reopen as the Northern Ireland Executive announces new relaxations to the lockdown. As these lockdown measures are slowly eased, we are wondering how house viewings in Northern Ireland might look when the industry reopens.

The UK government has issued guidance regarding property viewings which gives us an indication of how you might view a property in Northern Ireland after lockdown. The below information reflects this guidance and highlights how it might affect you – the buyer, the seller and the estate agent.

In this article, you will find information across three main sections:

  • I am a buyer / renter and I am going to view a house
  • I am the seller and people are viewing my property
  • I am the estate agent

I am a buyer / renter and I am going to view a house

While following government guidelines and staying indoors, you may have found your dream home on Propertynews.com. As you eagerly wait for the housing market to reopen, you may begin to wonder how you will view this property. What will be different to before? Can a partner join you on this viewing? Will there be other couples there?

Here is how a house viewing in Northern Ireland might look to a buyer / renter:

Before a viewing

  • If possible, it is advised to view a property virtually before attending a physical viewing. This ensures that you are only visiting a property that you are seriously interested in and will also limit the number of unnecessary journeys you make.
  • If you have any questions about the property, email these questions to the estate agent as soon as possible. The estate agent will be able to provide more information before the viewing which will ultimately limit face-to-face contact.
  • A viewer may not have as much time to look around a property as before. In England, property viewings are limited to 20 minutes to help reduce the spread of the Coronavirus. Before attending a viewing, we advise contacting the estate agent to see if there is a time restriction in place.
  • If you are concerned for your health when attending a house viewing, speak to the estate agent in advance who will be able to explain the precautions that they have in place at the property.
  • Before attending a viewing, you may have to answer the below questions:
  1. Has anyone in your household had COVID-19?
  2. Has anyone in your household displayed COVID-19 symptoms or have not yet completed a required period of household isolation?
  3. Do you or anyone in your family have COVID-19 symptoms?
  4. Are you in the high-risk category?

During a viewing

  • Sanitise your hands before entering the property and sanitise again when you leave.
  • All physical house viewings should be limited to one household. This means that if you live with a partner, then you will be able to view the property together. If you currently live in separate houses, it is advised to book different appointments to the viewing.
  • Wear a face covering and disposable gloves throughout the viewing. This will help to protect you and limit the spread of the Coronavirus.
  • Avoid touching surfaces and bring hand sanitiser with you.
  • Keep to the two-metre social distancing rule.

I am a seller and people are viewing my property

Over the last number of weeks, many estate agents across Northern Ireland have been working remotely.

The public have been able to contact agents via property portals, such as Propertynews.com, to express their desire to view a property when it is possible.

Therefore, when the property market reopens, estate agents may have a busy couple of weeks booking in prospective buyers to view your home.

Here is how a house viewing in Northern Ireland might look to the seller:

  • It is recommended that you open all internal doors, loft hatches and any other areas of interest before the prospective buyer arrives. You may also open the windows to boost ventilation in the home.
  • It is important to clean between each house viewing to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. Make sure that you target high-risk areas such as door handles, stair banisters and the doorbell.
  • If possible, place hand sanitiser beside the front door for viewers and estate agents to use.
  • It is recommended that you vacate the property whilst viewings are taking place in order to limit contact between different households.
  • If you are unable to leave your property during each viewing, it is advised that you:
  1. Wear a face covering and disposable gloves.
  2. Always adhere to the 2-metre social distancing rule.
  • Before proceeding with the viewing, you may be asked the below questions:
  1. Has anyone in your household had COVID-19?
  2. Has anyone in your household displayed COVID-19 symptoms or have not yet completed a required period of household isolation?
  3. Do you or anyone in your family have COVID-19 symptoms?
  4. Are you in the high-risk category?

I am an estate agent

As an estate agent, it is important that you set an example and ensure that all government guidance is adhered to.

The government has advised selling agents to accompany clients on a viewing and ensure that social distancing regulations are maintained throughout. If viewings are unaccompanied, estate agents should make both viewer and homeowner aware of how to conduct themselves.

Here is how a house viewing in Northern Ireland might look to an estate agent:

  • Estate agents should encourage buyers to begin their property search online. If possible, initial viewings should be done virtually so that buyers are only viewing properties that they are seriously interested in. This limits face-to-face contact and ensures clients are only making necessary journeys.
  • Agents can ask the seller to conduct virtual viewings which will reduce the number of properties that a buyer will visit before finding their dream home.
  • Physical viewings should be conducted by appointment only. Only members of the same household will be allowed to join the buyer when viewing a property. However, estate agents can ask you to restrict the number of people who accompany you to ensure that social distancing can be maintained.
  • No open house viewings should take place.
  • Estate agents will wear a face covering and disposable gloves.
  • If the homeowner is not present during the viewing, then precautions must be taken when handing over the keys. Physical contact must be minimised, and the keys must be sanitised during each handover. This will help to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.
  • Estate agents will be unable to drive clients to house viewings.
  • The estate agent will ask both the seller and buyer the following questions:
  1. Has anyone in your household had COVID-19?
  2. Has anyone in your household displayed COVID-19 symptoms or have not yet completed a required period of household isolation?
  3. Do you or anyone in your family have COVID-19 symptoms?
  4. Are you in the high-risk category?

While the above information highlights what you might expect at a property viewing, it is important to remember that this is a guide. Before attending a viewing, we recommend contacting the estate agent who will be able to provide you with information on the safety measures that they are taking at property viewings.

During this unprecedented time, it is important to stay up-to-date with all the latest guidance and advice from the Northern Ireland Executive.

Are you planning on selling your home? Get your house market ready with Propertynews.com as we share 7 steps that you can take during lockdown to prepare your home for a sale.