There’s no doubt about it, COVID-19, the coronavirus that is quickly bringing the world to its knees, is here to stay – at least for the foreseeable future.
Update: 26th March 2020
Much of the article below was written before the Government announced there would be a 3 week lockdown period for the UK.
Since then, the Government has issued official advice for buyers and sellers which you can read here.
Essentially, you are strongly encouraged not to complete a move unless absolutely necessary. You may continue to list your property on the market but should not invite estate agents or potential buyers into you home for viewings or valuations.
We have added updates from online agents following this announcement where available.
Like all businesses, estate agents face an uncertain future. For the good of the economy and the world we live in, businesses are having to find ways to carry on despite the crisis.
That means all estate agents must now properly assess the risk to their staff, customers, and wider public, then put in measures to limit the risk as much as possible.
With a business model that restricts face-to-face contact, online agents will perhaps find this easier to do than their high street counterparts. However, we are already seeing estate agents across the country change their normal procedures to help protect people from coronavirus.
Here is what each of the online estate agents have said they are doing to help combat the spread of COVID-19:
As of 22nd March, the largest of all the online estate agents, Purplebricks have been somewhat quiet when it comes to announcing what they are doing in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
They do not appear to have issued any advice specifically about COVID-19.
However, their social media feeds have recently mentioned the fact they can do virtual valuations as well as face to face ones.
On 24th March, Purplebricks published an update about how they are dealing with coronavirus. You can read about it here.
The key point is that they are using “video technology such as WhatsApp, FaceTime, Zoom, Duo and Hangouts to conduct all viewings and valuations until Government guidelines change.”
This announcement is still quite well hidden on their website. You need to go to their FAQ page to find it.
As of 22nd March, Housesimple have put a number of measures in place to help deal with COVID-19 which you can read about here.
The page mostly outlines their general advice about contacting them if you feel sick or need to self-isolate and what they are doing to protect their staff.
They are also offering virtual valuations if you’d prefer to avoid face-to-face-contact.
Their advice was updated on 25th March to take into account the Government’s move to a lockdown status.
Housesimple are essentially advising that most aspects of a house move are now paused. However, they are still able to conduct virtual viewings using video technology such as Whatsapp, Zoom, and Skype.
This page is being regularly updated with the latest advice.
Yopa seem to have made a conscious decision to avoid mentioning ‘coronavirus’ as much as possible and, as a result, their original advice page was simply entitled ‘How is Yopa keeping customers safe?’. However, that has now been removed and replaced with this update.
They do, however, directly mention both coronavirus and COVID-19 within the article so it was clearly written for that purpose. The article mostly gives fairly generic information about how their business model helps to limit face to face contact.
That said, they have recently mentioned on social media that they are able to offer both remote valuations and remote viewings to help combat the spread of the virus.
Yopa are now taking a more proactive route with revealing how COVID-19 is affecting them and their customers. There is a clear banner on the top of the site which links to their update.
Essentially it’s similar to the updates from Purplebricks and Housesimple in saying that house moves are on pause but viewings and valuations can be done without face-to-face contact.
The Doorsteps website is currently displaying a banner advert about COVID-19. Unfortunately, it appears to be offering free life insurance advice rather than detailing what they are doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
There does not appear to be any other information on coronavirus on the Doorsteps website, however they did make a post on social media which you can see here.
This is essentially pushing their hosted viewings and VR tours or their auction package. However, for Doorsteps customers who already have their property on the market, they are able to withdraw it from sale. Doorsteps usually allow customers who do this to relist their property for free within 28 days, however, this has now been extended to 2 months.
Doorsteps appear to have moved away from offering the free life insurance advice. Instead, their offer is now a free video tour until 3rd of April. This is almost certainly in response to the coronavirus crisis.
There is still little mention of the impact of coronavirus on their main site, but they are discussing it on social media feeds. This includes an offer to sell houses for free for NHS staff once the lockdown is over.
We cannot find any mention of any extra coronavirus measures that 99Home have put in place. While they already conduct online valuations, they do usually visit properties to verify property descriptions.
Neither the website or social media feeds have made any mention of COVID-19.
easyProperty frame themselves as being able to sell your home from your sofa which obviously sounds coronavirus-friendly. That said, in reality, that’s no different to any other online estate agent really.
The only mention of COVID-19 is one post on their social media feeds about following current government advice, with a link to the official Gov info page.
We cannot find any mention of coronavirus measures on the eSale website or social media feeds.
eSale now show a message on their homepage advising they have now stopped all viewings due to the recent government advice. They are pushing their online valuation tool as a way to get a head start for ‘when things are back to normal’.
Hats off to I Am The Agent for clearly communicating what they are doing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in a blog post which you can read here.
That said, they don’t appear to be taking any special measures, more just re-enforcing the benefits of the online experience they already offer. They do also highlight how they are helping their team deal with the crisis.
We cannot find any mention of coronavirus measures on the Griffin Residential website or social media feeds.
Again, there’s no direct mention of what SellMyHome.co.uk are doing about coronavirus on their website or social media feeds. However, there is a passing mention of using their ‘Virtual Walkthrough’ service to allow people to view your property from home.
We cannot find any mention of coronavirus measures on the Springbok Properties website or social media feeds.
We cannot find any mention of coronavirus measures on the Visum website.
We cannot find any mention of coronavirus measures on the Settled website.
While emoov are not avoiding talking about COVID-19, we have been unable to find any direct mention about what they are doing to help combat it.
The closest we have found is a blog post which talks about the potential impact of coronavirus on the property market and wide economy. There is no mention of any special measures they have put in place to protect people.
Estate Agents Can And Should Do More
We call on all agents, online or otherwise, to act responsibly and immediately put measures in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
What’s more, we call on them to clearly publish what they are doing about it. This is a worrying and uncertain time, the least we can expect is that the businesses we deal with are communicating clearly.
We will endeavour to keep the list above updated. However, since this is a fast-moving situation, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of our information. If you think something is wrong or missing, please contact us to let us know.
We have also issued our own advice for homeowners who are trying to sell their property (or are considering doing so) at the moment. The advice includes tips you can follow for safely showing people around your home. You can read the advice here.