Staying safe during house viewings - a guide for property buyers and sellers
House moves and related activities, such as property viewings, are currently permitted (although the Scottish Government has advised that, due to the new strain of the virus, people may wish to consider postponing if possible).
However, the process of buying or selling a home is different compared to before COVID-19. This includes doing more of the process online, with a strong emphasis on viewings properties virtually initially if possible, and only progressing to a physical viewing if necessary and you have a serious interest in making an offer. You must also ensure that you continue to follow government advice on physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene. Read government guidance on house moves to find out more.
The Scottish Government has also recommended that you wear a face covering when in contact with other people from outside your household involved in activities related to buying or selling your home.
If you or anyone in your household displays symptoms of COVID-19, you should not invite any businesses or people to your property for property viewings. You will need to self-isolate for the correct amount of time – find out more about government guidance for self-isolating.
Clinically vulnerable and shielded individuals will need to carefully consider their personal situation and the circumstances of their own move and may wish to seek medical advice before deciding whether to commit to or go ahead with a move.
The health and wellbeing of the general public is of the utmost importance, and it is key that all parties stay safe during a property viewing, so please read the advice below on how to view a property safely.
Advice for property buyers
View a property virtually first
The Scottish Government has advised that virtual viewings should be conducted before visiting properties in person where possible, in order to minimise public health risks. Physical viewings should only be conducted if necessary and where buyers are seriously considering making an offer on or renting a property.
If a virtual viewing is not available, we advise you that you make use of the photographs, schedule and Home Report to decide whether you would like to proceed with a physical viewing.
Arranging a property viewing
The Scottish Government has advised that no open viewings should take place so all viewings should be done by appointment.
The agent will need to check that neither you, nor anyone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19. If you have symptoms, neither you nor anyone else in your household will be able to attend a property viewing until you have isolated for the correct amount of time.
You will have to cancel a viewing if you or anyone in your household displays symptoms during the period of time between booking and attending the viewing.
Who should attend the property viewing?
Government guidance indicates that you should restrict the number of people who accompany you on a viewing so that physical distancing can be practised.
Only those in your immediate household and/or your agent should accompany you. If you need to be accompanied by young children, you should try to keep them from touching surfaces and ensure they wash their hands regularly.
Getting to the property viewing
We advise you to drive, walk or cycle to the property viewing if at all possible. If this isn’t possible and you have to take public transport, try to arrange your viewing at a time when public transport is quieter. You should also follow government guidance on using public transport including wearing a face covering.
The property viewing
Scottish Government advises that when viewing a property, all parties should wash their hands or bring their own hand sanitiser and avoid touching surfaces where possible. Access to hand washing facilities should be provided, using separate towels or paper towels if possible, which should be washed or disposed of safely.
During the viewing, make sure to maintain a two metre distance between you and the seller or agent at all times. The Scottish Government also advises that you should also consider using a face covering.
Advice for property sellers
Offer virtual property viewings if possible
If you are selling a property, we advise that you speak to your agent about offering virtual viewings to buyers in the first instance. The Scottish Government advises that properties should be viewed virtually if possible before a physical viewing is arranged.
Your agent may be able to put together a video or virtual tour as part of your property marketing package. If not, you could also offer live virtual viewings over Facetime, Zoom or Skype.
Arranging a property viewing
Government guidance advises against open viewings at present so viewing should be done on an appointment basis. Your agent will liaise with you to arrange these.
If at any point, you or anyone in your household develops symptoms of COVID-19, you will need to self-isolate. You should notify your agent straight away and not arrange any property viewings during this period. You will also need to cancel or rearrange any viewings already booked.
The property viewing
Before the viewing, you should clean your property thoroughly and clean all surfaces with standard household cleaning products. You should also open all doors in advance of a property viewing to avoid viewers touching door handles. You may wish to also open windows to ensure the property is well-ventilated.
During the viewing, maintain a two metre distance between you and the buyers at all times. If the agent is facilitating the viewing, you and the rest of your household should exit the property while the viewing is taking place if possible. If you are conducting the viewing, you should ask the rest of your household to wait outside the property if possible.
If you are conducting the viewing, your agent will speak to in advance to advise you about the process. You should provide viewers with access to hand washing facilities, using separate towels or paper towels if possible, which should be washed or disposed of safely. The Scottish Government also advises that you should also consider using a face covering.
After the viewing, clean the property thoroughly with standard household cleaning products. Your agent will then advise you on next steps if the viewer chooses to make an offer.
Find out more
If you are interested in buying or selling a property in the current circumstances, read our COVID-19 page with advice for buyers and sellers or contact an ESPC agent. Find out more about moving home during COVID-19 at our free webinar.
You might also be interested in...
Coronavirus COVID-19: Advice for property buyers and sellers in Scotland
We've provided some advice for property buyers, sellers, homeowners, landlords and tenants during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the UK.
Moving house safely
The moving process is different to before COVID-19. In this article, we look at the guidance provided by the Scottish Government on the moving process.
Virtual property viewings
Some ESPC agents offer virtual property viewings, allowing you to view a house or flat you're interested in from the comfort of your own home.