COVID 19 Viewing Safely

 

During the second lockdown the government have allowed the housing market to carry on as normal. This is due to the hard work all agents across the country have made ensuring their premises and practises are as safe as possible. Here at Open House all our vendors and viewers are asked to read and follow these guidelines on this Risk Assessment.

Open House Safety Risk Assessment


Our precautions to help reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) and help keep everyone safe
On 13th May 2020, the government amended the coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations to make clear that people who wish to move home
can do so provided social distancing is adhered to. This guidance provides important public health information to ensure that moving home
and key activities around this, such as viewings, can happen safely.
Based on the government guidance, we have formulated our own risk assessment to keep our employees and clients safe when conducting
viewings. We hope that the guidance below provides assurances that Open House are ready to resume estate agency activity safely and
with minimal risks to all parties concerned. We would like to stress that we are as motivated as ever to sell your property, but this needs to
be balanced with the increased risks presented by coronavirus.
All visits to your property by our agents and prospective buyers must be carried out in whilst observing social distancing in line with public
health advice. The simplest steps you can take when looking to move home is to wash your hands frequently and wherever possible stay at
least two metres apart from people who are not members of your household.

Virtual Viewings
We recommend the use of virtual viewings before sending people to out to your property. This will minimise public health risks and will
ensure physical viewings are only conducted where prospective buyers are seriously considering making an offer on a property. If we have
yet to arrange a virtual viewing of your property and you would like us to do so, please let us know.

Physical Viewings
Before viewings
• Before booking a physical viewing, we will ask you whether any members of the household are showing symptoms of
coronavirus or are self-isolating. If you answer yes, a physical viewing will not be booked.
• In addition to checking whether you are showing symptoms of coronavirus or are self-isolating, we will also ask whether
there are any occupiers who are classed as clinically vulnerable (e.g. over 70). If you answer yes, viewings can still be booked
in this instance, but you (or the vulnerable household member) will need to carefully consider your personal situation and the
circumstances and may wish to seek medical advice before deciding whether to proceed.
• If our agent is due to attend the viewing and develops symptoms of coronavirus between booking the appointment and the
day it is due to take place, we will contact you to postpone the appointment giving as much notice as possible.
• We will ask all prospective buyers whether any members of their household are showing symptoms of coronavirus or are self isolating.
If they answer yes, a physical viewing will not be booked.
• We will keep viewings as short as possible. Most properties should be able to be viewed sufficiently within 15-20 minutes.
If you are conducting the viewing yourself, we will advise prospective buyers beforehand that the viewing must not be
unnecessarily prolonged.
• If a property is not large enough, or there are any other logistical issues which mean a viewing cannot be conducted whilst
adhering to social distancing measures, we will not book a viewing at the property.
• Before the viewing, we would ask that you prepare by:
– Opening all internal doors to minimise contact with door handles.
– Ensuring all surfaces at the property and any other highly touched items have been wiped down.
– Opening all windows when possible to ensure good ventilation at the property is maintained.
• If the viewing is to take place at an unoccupied property, our agent will use standard household cleaning wipes on all
door handles within the property.

Working Safely
• If our agent is due to attend, they may opt to wear a face mask/covering and gloves as a precautionary measure. If you would
like to insist that our agent wears any PPE for added reassurance, please let us know before the viewing. If you are conducting
the viewing yourself and wish to wear a face covering but don’t currently have one, these can be made at home and advice
on how to do this and use them safely can be found on the GOV.UK website (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/
how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering).
• We will restrict the number of people who attend the viewing so social distancing can be practised. A maximum of two
people from the same household will be permitted to attend your property for a viewing.
During viewings (agent accompanied)
• Our agent will either walk to the property or use their own transport. We will ask all prospective buyers not to use public
transport to travel to the property.
• When arriving at an occupied property, our agent will knock on the door and step back two metres (about three steps) so
that when you open the door, social distancing is adhered to.
• Our agent will introduce themselves as they normally would but will not shake hands upon entering or leaving the property.
• Our agent will wash their hands with soap and water (or hand sanitiser if this is not possible) immediately after entering.
Where possible, you should allow access to handwashing facilities and ideally separate towels/paper towels.
• Due to social distancing we encourage that you wait outside the property (e.g. in the garden) whilst the viewing is taking
place. If this is not possible, we would ask that you maintain social distancing by keeping to one room and moving to another
room when required. Our agent will be required to stay at least two metres from all members of your household and any
prospective buyer at all times.
• If our agent needs to sneeze or cough during the visit to your property, they will always look to cough or sneeze into a tissue,
or their sleeve, and dispose of the tissue as soon as possible and then re-wash their hands, either with soap and water or their
own sanitiser. We will ask all prospective buyers to do the same.
• Our agent will not share pens, paper, or any other objects during the appointment with anyone in attendance.
• Our agent will avoid touching surfaces where possible and will bring their own hand sanitiser and we will ask prospective
buyers to do the same.

During viewing (unaccompanied)
• We will ask all prospective buyers not to use public transport to travel to the property.
• We will ask all prospective buyers to knock on the door upon arrival and step back two metres (about three steps) so that
when you open the door, social distancing is adhered too.
• Under no circumstances should you shake hands with people viewing. We will advise all people viewing not to attempt to
shake hands upon entering or leaving the property.
• We will ask all people viewing to wash their hands with soap and water (or hand sanitiser if this is not possible) immediately
after entering. Where possible, you should allow access to handwashing facilities and ideally separate towels/paper towels.
• Only one person from your household should be present to show the prospective buyer round the property. Due to social
distancing we encourage all other household members to wait outside the property (e.g. in the garden) whilst the internal
inspection is taking place. If this is not possible, we would ask that they maintain social distancing by keeping to one room
and moving to another room when required. All members of your household including the person showing them around will
be required to stay at least two metres from any the prospective buyer at all times.
• We will ask prospective buyers to cough or sneeze into a tissue, or their sleeve, if they need to do so, and dispose of the tissue
as soon as possible and then re-wash their hands, either with soap and water or their own sanitiser.
• We will ask prospective buyers to avoid touching surfaces where possible and bring their own hand sanitiser.

After the viewing
• We will not hold feedback discussions with the prospective buyer inside the property at the end of the viewing. This will
either be conducted outside the property, maintaining social distancing, or through a follow up call.
• Once the viewing has taken place, the homeowner should ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned with standard
household cleaning products and towels disposed of safely or washed as appropriate.
• Our agent will remove any wipes, tissues etc which they have personally used during the appointment and dispose of them
as appropriate. We will also ask any prospective buyers to do the same.
• If we have been issued keys to conduct a viewing on an unoccupied property and they are due to be returned to you, we will
make sure they are appropriately cleaned before handover.

 

 

 

Recently Sold Properties

Open House Estate Agents Cannock are a local estate agent available 24/7, we approach house selling a little differently. We provide professional photographs, video tour, 360 virtual tour and floor plan as standard.

Fees from £698 or pay £998 no sale no fee

We have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube & we use the latest technology to place your home in front of buyers.

We offer a more personal touch, you will deal with one person throughout the process, who will be available and responsive.

Call 01543 327873 or schedule a free advice meeting below

 

Virtual Viewings & Valuations

Open House Cannock Offer Virtual Viewings & Valuations During this crisis

Get Ahead With Your Home Sale

Government restrictions due to the Coronavirus pandemic are making it very difficult to sell your property and find your next dream home. However we have an answer which will put you one step ahead of everyone else when the country returns to normal.

Open House Cannock is offering virtual viewings using the latest technology. Our current vendors have been sent a comprehensive “how to video guide” to film their properties and film videos to send to us. We can then edit these using our latest software and upload to selling portals such as Rightmove & Zoopla. Some proprieties have been sold without a physical viewing! Nevertheless this will place your home in a great position when the market returns to normal.

Please see below an example of a home owner filming his own tour of his property with a smartphone. He sent the footage to us and we edited it and uploaded to the property portals such as Rightmove.

 

Going forward Open House Cannock will embrace this new technology and offer 360 degree virtual tours and video tours as part of our normal package.

Here is an example of what we can offer, please see this One Floor example of a town house below

 

 

 

Please give us a call on 01543 327873 to discuss how we can help you or to answer any questions you may have.

 

The Coronavirus Act 2020

The Coronavirus Act 2020 received Royal Assent and came into force today. Section 81 and Schedule 29 are the parts which concern the law relating to Landlord and Tenants. The provisions apply from 26 March until 30 September 2020, but this may be extended by up to 6 months by the Government. The following information has been shared with us by our referencing and legal partner Let Alliance.

The Governments promise to renters stated that:

  • Emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation while this national emergency is taking place, and
  • No new possession proceedings through applications to the court to start during the crisis

The government is clear – no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts.

Q1 – What changes does the Act make in relation to private landlord and tenant law?
  1. All notices under Section 8 and Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 served from (and included) today must provide a notice of not less than 3 months. This replaces the previous requirement of 2 weeks and 2 months respectively.
Q2 – What remains unchanged by the Act?
  1. Despite the Government’s promise that there would be a complete ban on evictions, the legislation, in its current form, does not ban landlords from serving a notice seeking possession nor does it prevent landlords from issuing possession proceedings within the Relevant Period.
  2. Despite the Lord Chief Justice saying that landlord and tenants should be expected to work together to establish affordable payment plans. There remains no Pre-Action Protocol for private landlord and tenant proceedings.
  3. Any rent payable during the Relevant Period remains treated as rent legally due.
  4. The grounds for recovering possession under Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 are unchanged. For instance, despite the notice period requirement being increased to 3 months, the requisite criteria for satisfaction of Ground 8 remains 2 months’ rent arrears at the time of serving notice and at the hearing.
Q3 – What about notices already served and orders obtained?
  1. Notices served prior to 26 March 2020 are unaffected by the Act. Therefore, once they have expired, proceedings may be issued.
  2. Possession orders remain enforceable and are unaffected by the Act. Therefore application for warrant of possession may be made, but many Courts are cancelling Bailiff appointments already listed and refusing to carry out evictions.
Q4 – What does that mean for us moving forward?
  1. We suggest that you operate business as usual in that if you would normally issue proceedings on an expired notice already served, then you should do so.
  2. Similarly, if you can issue a warrant request, continue to do so. This will ensure that your application is ‘in the queue’ and whilst it may not be actioned just yet, once the restrictions are lifted, we consider all applications will be dealt with in date order and will therefore be enforceable in due course.
  3. Whilst a Pre Action Protocol was suggested it is not yet law or even drafted to be considered. The current Social Housing PAP has been suggested but whilst it’s not really suited to the private sector it can be used as an indication of good practice.
  4. The suggestion that attempts should be made to negotiate settlement and not issue proceedings in order to avoid a Court fee, in our view, isn’t commercially viable as those attempts should have been exhausted before issue anyway. In addition, by not issuing when you are able to, you will be further down the list of applications when the Courts are back open for business and there will be a flood of backlogged cases to get through which is likely to result in considerable delays for the foreseeable future.
Q5 – What about Company letting agreements?

The Act extends the required notice period of a Notice to Quit to three months in respect of Rent Act 1977 by amendment of Section 5 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

Whilst there is no direct mention, or applicability to the position relating to company let agreements the Act does provides similar protections in respect of Business Tenancies under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. Our view is therefore that it is the clear intention of Parliament that all tenants should be given 3 months’ notice of the landlord’s intention to recover possession of premises. It is the function of the Court to interpret the legislation and in our view it would be the most logical interpretation that the period of notice required for Company letting agreements is also to be extended to 3 months’ notice.

If less than 3 months’ notice were given for a company let agreement, we consider there is a risk that the Court would deem the Notice to Quit invalid and the action for possession would fail. Meaning it would be likely that a new Notice to Quit would need to be served, providing 3 months’ notice and delaying the recovery of possession considerably.

Q6 – A possibility of further amendment and changes to associated legislation?

It seems the Courts aren’t actively listing cases and may have been advised not to make possession orders just yet but there is currently no changes in law which alter the position of the Court when faced with an application for possession which satisfies the requirements for possession on mandatory grounds. If an accelerated application is issued for instance, and dealt with by the Court on the papers, there is nothing at present to suggest that the Court is precluded from making a mandatory order for possession.

In light of criticism it has received, the Government may introduce further amendments to the Act, or introduce subsequent changes to legislation which seeks to further deliver on the promises made and therefore the practical implication as it currently stands may change.

As you will appreciate, guidance on likely or predicted changes is difficult and we wish to remind you that we are still in fast moving and unprecedented times but we shall provide further updates as and when appropriate.

Source Open House Hinckley https://www.openhousehinckley.co.uk/post/the-coronavirus-act-2020

Top Tips: How to Increase Value Of Your Home and Sell Quicker

 

Preparing your home for viewers, or “staging” as it’s called, is important. It will not only ensure your property is sold faster but can potentially add thousands of pounds to its value.

De-clutter – but don’t depersonalise
 Get rid of all the excess stuff that has accumulated in every nook and cranny. Put it in storage or give it to a friend
 People need to be able to envisage what the property would look like if they were living there. People often find this difficult, so make it easy for them to see all the fantastic living space you’re offering them
 Don’t make it look like a generic hotel; leave some personality. Apart from anything else it gives unimaginative buyers suggestions as to what they might do
 People are often buying into a lifestyle as much as a property. Show them the attractive side of your lifestyle
 Consider removing any bulky furniture that makes the room feel small and replacing it with smaller furniture

A fresh lick of paint
 Giving your walls a fresh lick of paint, neutral paint will make your home seem lighter and bigger
 It will enable the viewers to more easily imagine how they would adapt the rooms to their needs
 It will be easier for the buyers to move in and use the rooms immediately than if the walls were still bright purple or lime green
 Create a good first impression – give the front door a new coat of brightly coloured paint

Fix and clean
 Make any minor repairs necessary – holes in walls, broken door knobs, cracked tiles, torn or threadbare carpets. Many buyers want to move in without making changes, so allow for this
 Clean everything until it sparkles. Get rid of limescale, clean and repair tile grout, wax wooden floors, get rid of all odours, hang up fresh towels. This will make the place more appealing and allow viewers to imagine living there
 Tidy up the garden: cut bushes back, clean the patio and furniture of lichen and dirt, and cut the grass. While this doesn’t add much value to your home it makes it more likely to sell as people visualize themselves using the garden

Update the kitchen

The kitchen is the most valuable room in a house. It is worth the most per square foot and can make the difference when buyers are unsure
 Consider refacing your kitchen cabinetry. This is much cheaper than installing new cabinetry and often as effective
 Upgrading kitchen counter tops is expensive, but can add serious value
 De-clutter the surfaces and just leave a bowl of fruit out. Take out any bulky appliances
 Consider upgrading the plumbing fixtures and white goods, but keep in mind that while that could make your property sell faster, you will be unlikely to recoup their full value

Light and airy
 Wall mirrors make a room look much bigger and lighter. Consider putting some up, especially in smaller rooms or hallways
 Clean windows inside and out and replace any broken light bulbs. Making the place feel light and airy makes rooms feel bigger and the property more attractive
 Ensure that you have lamps on in any dark corners
 Putting a soft light bulb in the bathroom can create a warm glow

Light a fire
 If it’s a cold evening, or even chilly day, light your fire. Consider burning some pinecones for the delicious smell. This will make your home feel warm and inviting. If you don’t have a fire then ensure the fireplace is clean

Make it look pretty
 Make sure the windows are properly dressed with blinds or curtains as naked windows make a place feel impersonal and run down. Buy some cheap ones if necessary.
 Plants and flowers bring colour, life and light to a room and they also smell delicious. So does that fruit bowl on your kitchen counter.

Get the right smells
 Bad smells are the single biggest turn off for prospective buyers. Don’t just cover them up, fix the source of the smell. Clear drains, wash bins, open windows, air the kitchen from old cooking smells, get rid of furniture that is embedded with cigarette smoke, and wash any grimy bed sheets
 If you are a smoker, place bowls of vinegar around the house and leave out for three days. Though the vinegar will smell when you open the windows it will disappear quickly taking a most of the stale cigarette smell out with it.
 Conversely, good smells can make a property feel like an alluring home. While it might be impractical to bake fresh bread, cakes or brownies for every viewer that visits your home, you could perhaps brew some fresh coffee

Obvious conversions
 If there are any obvious conversions – adapting the garage into extra rooms or going up into the loft – and you have some spare cash, why not take advantage of this cash cow rather than letting the new owners make easy money out of improvements. You should usually recoup your money
 If you don’t have enough spare cash to make the conversion, consider getting planning permission anyway.

What Your Solicitor Needs to be doing for you!

WHAT CONVEYANCING SOLICITORS SHOULD DO FOR A SELLER

In a nutshell, they ensure they successfully transfer legal ownership of residential property (freehold or leasehold, registered or unregistered) from you to your buyer.

The skill and efficiency of your conveyancing solicitor can mean the difference between a smooth or stressful process. Conveyancing quality can range wildly by those who offer their services in the market place.

Please remember – It is your conveyancer’s job to get you to an exchange of contracts as efficiently and ideally as promptly as possible.

Whoever you select as your conveyancer, to ensure you know that you are receiving actual quality, you should expect the following, as a minimum:

  • If your deeds are registered at the Land Registry your conveyancer can instantly obtain a copy and dispatch contract papers to your buyers the very same day you instruct them.
  • You can be given your copy of the contract to sign. As a result you are signed up and potentially ready to exchange as soon as your buyers’ solicitor is ready to do so.
  • Early on, your conveyancer obtains a record of the balance owing on your mortgage (if any) and they prepare a statement of the net proceeds owing to you. This avoids any nasty surprises later on, in case you overlooked a deduction (e.g. estate agent’s bill, a second mortgage, early mortgage repayment penalty).
  • Your Buyers will review the contract papers, and if they wish to raise any questions, your conveyancer should attempt to deal with them, but if they require your input then should ideally email or telephone them through to you and request your answers – to keep up the pace of your house move. Post is a slow approach.
  • Once the buyer is happy with the contract papers and replies to their questions, (and your related purchase is ready if applicable), a specific move date is set, and the buyer’s finances are in place, it should be possible to proceed to exchange contracts.

NOTE: Exchange of Contracts is simply a telephone call between the buyers’ and sellers’ conveyancing solicitors to confirm that each party will not back out (as either party can until exchange), and will move (i.e. complete) at a fixed date shortly in the future. This then allows house clearance, carpet ordering (etc) and property removals to be booked without fear of cancellation and lost deposit.

Once Contracts have been exchanged the deal is legally binding. You and the buyer are fully committed to the transaction and cannot withdraw without facing substantial damages and penalties. Exchange of Contracts can be a lengthy and often frustrating process depending on the number of parties in the chain. Your conveyance should aim to shield you from this though the process can only move forward as quickly as the slowest person in the chain.

  • Your moving date, or more commonly ‘completion date’, is normally a week or two after Exchange of Contracts. Your conveyancer will prepare by requesting a final mortgage repayment amount calculated to the specific move date. They will also telephone/email you a day or two before completion just to check you are ready.
  • On the date of completion they receive the remaining sale price from the buyer’s solicitor. On receipt they will authorise the release of keys through the Estate Agents (where there is one). The Buyer collects the keys from the Agents. Any spare keys can be put through your letterbox.
  • They pay your Estate Agents, re-pay your mortgage provider and deduct their legal fees before sending you the net proceeds (or carrying them over to any related purchase).

Source : Trethowans

Download your local agents Brochure with selling tips

So which local, Cannock estate agents give the best value? Which Cannock estate agent has an office and also the perfect online solution to market your home? Well, Openhouse Cannock estate agents have everything that in comparison to all others is exceptional value.

Of course, we would say that, to help you decide if what we are saying makes sense, we have created our Openhouse Cannock information brochure which includes tips on how to get a property ready for sale and also a detailed guide to the legal process for buyers and sellers.

We have printed copies in the office, come in and ask for one while you are in and around Stafford town centre, or download it from the bottom of every page on our website, including the bottom of this blog page. Go on scroll down and click, or if you would like a copy of the glossy brochure itself, please do not hesitate to pop into our office at 113 Wolverhampton Road Stafford.

Helping you make the right decision, for you.

See you soon, on the website, in our office or at your home.
The Openhouse Cannock & Stafford team


Download Our Brochure – CLICK HERE

Did Brexit uncertainty effect the value of your home in Cannock 2018?

open house cannock high street

2018 will always be remembered as the year where we were divided as a country. No matter which side, Leave or Remain your allegiance is with, we can all agree that the uncertainty about the future is a constant worry in all aspects of our life, whether it be personal or business.
Amidst all this doom and gloom and the serious amount of fear mongering, what effect did this have on the local Cannock property market?
Well, it seems not much. House selling prices rose in Cannock by 3% in 2018. This is an increase of 7% on 2016 when the average house price in Cannock was £167,000.

The Facts 2018
315 Detached properties were sold in Cannock, average price £252,000
474 Semi-Detached properties were sold in Cannock, average price £155,000
151 Terraced houses were sold in Cannock, average price £143,000
71 Flats were sold in Cannock, average price £99,000

Overall most sales in Cannock over 2018 were semi detached houses with an average selling price of £155,000 followed by detached houses average selling price of £252,000.
Cannock with an overall average selling price of £179,000, was similar in terms of sold prices to nearby Hednesford (£186,000) and Norton Canes (£182,000) but was cheaper than Heath Hayes area (£190,000)
In summary Brexit didn’t have a great impact on the local Cannock property market, a steady increase in house prices has been experienced with no solid information available to say this will change.
The future based on recent behaviours seems good for the local market, if you are thinking of selling or letting your property, I would be happy to help with any advice you need. Selling or letting your property really isn’t that daunting especially when you have someone to help you.
Call me Steve Lythgoe on 01543 327873