Caroline takla, coronavirus, property insights

Potential restrictions For Agents

Caroline Takla, Founder of The Collection, discusses how the market could look in the coming months and the restrictions in place that agents will need to overcome.
"The industry has had to adapt quickly to the current situation caused by the COVID-19 crisis, be it the race to release the best virtual viewings, video tours to entice potential buyers or Zoom meetings to meet clients. 
"In its entirety, the industry has had to adapt simultaneously and as a direct consequence, what would have been unthinkable as an acceptable way of engaging a mere few weeks ago, has become the cliched “new normal”.
"However, as the country enters the next phase of tackling the virus and lockdown measures are eased, there needs to be clear guidance from the Government so that, once again, the industry finds itself shifting. This time in a homogenously safe manner. 
"It’s certain that agents will demand that buyers attending viewings are sent a checklist of what they need bring with them in order to be able to enter a property. This could potentially range from bringing a mask and gloves to ensuring that sanitiser is used before and after the viewing and that nothing is touched.  It’s conceivable that some agents may move towards branding masks and utilising them as new marketing paraphernalia, in much the same way as they already do with, for example, umbrellas. 
"It will also be interesting to see how agents will be able to verify their clients’ identities in the future. 
"Currently, either the agent has to meet the client and see their ID or their documents need to be verified by a select few approved professions e.g. a solicitor or an accountant. So new systems will potentially need to be put in place to cover compliance processes. 
"There will of course inevitably be a rise in electronic document signatures being implemented instead of people signing in person or returning signed documents by post.
"From a market perspective there will be investors that could still proceed without viewings if they have done their homework and the numbers add up. Agents are reporting a number of deals agreed subject to viewing, so it’s likely that the fall through rate will be high on these “agreed deals“.
"It’s highly likely that vacant, unoccupied properties will be the ones that will attract the most interest initially as they will be perceived to be the safest and as a result this may feature as a “selling bullet point” in an agent’s brochure.  I’m certain that porters will play an increasingly important role in allowing access to some of these assets. 
"Whilst it’s impossible to predict how long these new measures will need to stay in place for, the more guidance we receive the quicker the industry can adapt. One thing is however crystal clear: it will be safety and technology that shape the health of the market.”

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