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Cross-industry guide details advice for safely reopening housing market

Jessica Bird

May 13, 2020

A cross-industry guide has been created by the Home Buying & Selling Group (HBSG), in consultation with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), to provide advice on reopening the housing market and enabling people to move safely. 

The collaborative industry guide, ‘Reopening the Home Moving Market Safely’, sets out in detail how moves can take place while fully complying with social distancing measures.

The guide was developed by the residential sector and professional organisations’ representatives.

The group comprised representatives from the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO), the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), the British Association of Removers (BAR), Bold Legal Group, the Conveyancing Association (CA), the Council of Property Search Organisations (CoPSO), the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), the Home Builders Federation (HBF), the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), HM Land Registry, the Property Energy Professionals Association (PEPA), the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA), the Society of Licensed Conveyors (SLC), The Law Society, UK Finance, and companies involved in the home moving process, including Habito.

It delivers practical advice for all involved in the process, focusing on physical contact points and times when professionals need to enter private residences.

The guide is relevant to property agents, mortgage advisers, property managers, property lawyers and conveyancers, surveyors, energy assessors and home removal firms, as well as contractors involved in property development and management.

The guide is the first in a series regarding reopening the housing market safely, and will be followed by consumer guidance and further conveyancing-specific guidance.

The contents have been shared with government, industry regulators and public health authorities, and will be updated regularly.

Recommendations for reopening the housing market safely include those for individual behaviour, client engagement and transparency, ID checks and office attendance.

A separate guide will be produced later aimed at consumers wishing to buy and sell property.

Paul Smee, chair of the Conveyancing Association, said: “This practical guide for all property professionals involved in the home moving process supplements, and builds on, the government’s own guidance published earlier today and provides recommendations for individual behaviour to reduce the risks of COVID-19, as well as key advice in areas such as client engagement, ID requirements, documentation, preparing a home for sale, plus pre and post-inspections of properties.

“Our key aim in contributing to this is to ensure that home moves can proceed in a safe manner and that industry professionals are aware of their responsibilities and the actions they should be taking in order to make sure this happens.

“This guide will be followed by both specific consumer information plus conveyancing sector guidance which will cover a range of recommendations, as well as a checklist for conveyancers to follow.

“The CA is pleased to see the housing market in England being opened up, but [is] aware that this is not the case yet in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, and there will be ongoing worries about this and the safety of the process.

“This guide is designed to alleviate a number of those concerns and to spell out that safety of both professionals and consumers should be at the heart of everything we do in order to ensure we can move people into their new homes.”

Martijn van der Heijden, chief strategy officer at Habito, said: “We’re proud to have joined the Home Buying and Selling Group to ensure there is clarity and consistency for the mortgage advice, valuation and lending communities.

“With more than 85% of mortgages in the UK being intermediated, lenders and brokers will play a pivotal role in the careful rolling out of this new guidance which puts the safety and wellbeing of all involved front and centre of the home-buying process.”

Kate Faulkner, chair of the Home Buying & Selling Group, said: “The reopening of the property market is incredibly important for those currently stuck in properties which are no longer suitable for them.

“However, both property professionals and consumers need to make sure they adhere to these new guidelines so everyone can move safely.

“The property sector has worked incredibly hard to ensure these guidelines allow buying, selling and renting a home to be done safely, which is of paramount importance.

“Consumers will need to be patient while the industry gears up to move them.”


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