The announcement by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that Phase 2 of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown is to proceed on Monday means that estate agent offices will be back open next week.
While agents have continued to work remotely, the re-opening of offices will be a welcome relief to buyers, sellers and renters looking to proceed with a purchase, sale or letting.
While virtual viewings will continue to be prominent in the coming weeks and months, you will now be able to arrange private viewings of a property. That said, safety remains paramount in recent weeks agents up and down the country have been busy implementing new guidelines based on government advice so that you can view properties as safely as possible.
The guidelines cover auctions, sales, lettings, valuations, and property management for both residential and commercial property.
The safety document advises that where possible, all viewings and auctions should be undertaken online, and where viewings take place in person, they should be pre-booked and there should be no more than two people in the viewing party and no under 16s should attend.
The protocol also recommends that all doors to small rooms such as utility and storage spaces should be removed, or internal door handles should be removed or covered to minimise contact points.
In arranging viewings of second-hand dwellings and commercial buildings, estate agents must confirm whether clients have returned from travel abroad or have had symptoms of Covid-19 over the previous 14 days. If so, the property service cannot be provided for a minimum of 14 days.
The document was jointly developed by the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV), the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) and the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) and was shared with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.
The three bodies believe the document will provide reassurance to consumers and clients of property services providers and valuers that the sector will be safe when it re-opens on Monday.
The key objective of this new protocol is to facilitate the safe reopening of the property market as this is critical to providing appropriate and essential accommodation for those impacted by the Covid-19 emergency and to address the housing issues which remain an ongoing concern for all.
The document also states that non-compliance with the new guidelines “by any party” must result in the cessation of the property service, and where the party concerned fails to further co-operate, An Garda Síochána “should be engaged.”