Expert’s pandemic property advice for house hunters

by Scott Douglas

Thursday, January 14th, 2021

Tips from Simpson & Marwick on finding the ideal home, despite the virus

Property PR photography Stock image of house hunting.

RICHARD LOUDON, one of the best-known residential property lawyers in Scotland, is Chairman of Simpson & Marwick having spent 41 years with the firm.

Simpson & Marwick is a highly-respected name in residential property, estate agency and conveyancing and has operated in Edinburgh since 1886.

Here Richard uses his decades of experience to deliver a series of tips, advice and answers for those who face the prospect of house hunting during lockdown and the other effects of the pandemic:

How has the pandemic changed the housing market?

Initially, in March last year, the market effectively closed down.  When we were released from lockdown the market was extraordinary with record sales in July and August and a noticeable increase in prices.  Perhaps surprisingly the market seems to be continuing in January with significant demand for viewings at the slightly limited number of properties that have gone to the market.

Are people still able to view properties? How has the renting/buying market managed to keep everything sanitised and safe?

People are still allowed to view properties. It is one of the exceptions to the current rules. Only one person can view at present.  Ideally, we prefer owners/viewing agents to vacate the property and leave windows and doors open, while also wearing face coverings. The visiting party absolutely has to wear a face covering and not touch anything in the property.  Viewings aren’t allowed to happen until a virtual viewing has already taken place.

property PR photo of Richard Loudon, Chairman of Simpson & Marwick

Has the pandemic caused the housing market to move faster, or has it slowed it? Why?

At first the market slowed completely and then was frantic for a few months.  November and December were much more active than is normal and remains surprisingly active at the moment.

With more people working from home, has it affected what people want in a home?

Absolutely.  There seems to be much more of a premium on outside space now and having a study or area where you can work from home is a real bonus.  I certainly anticipate that there will be many more Planning Applications for garden home offices in 2021 – I saw three in December alone!

What are the challenges for something buying/renting in Scotland during the pandemic?

The challenges are really the same as for everything we do in life.  Having to watch a virtual viewing before going to see a property, wearing appropriate PPE when at the property and then dealing with the agent and your own solicitor, who are working remotely, is just a little bit more challenging.  Other than that, it is pretty much business as usual.

 How would you summarise the Scottish market for buyers right now?

The market appears to be only slightly different from a normal January.  Perhaps there are a few less properties coming to the market but there do seem to be a lot of buyers out there at the moment.  The only two things many people can do at the moment is play golf and look at properties!

How difficult is it to move house during lockdown?

Actually, moving home doesn’t appear to be too challenging.  The removal firms appear to be taking all necessary precautions and are pretty much working as normal.

What are your top tips for buying, selling, rent and viewing homes during the pandemic?

It is clearly essential to look at the online video before trying to arrange a physical viewing appointment.  If you want somebody else to look at a property with you, you probably need to arrange two appointments, one after the other, as you are not going to be allowed into the property with another party.  Of course, you will have to wear the appropriate PPE and other than that use your common sense and just be careful.  It is critical to keep at least two metres away from anybody else who is the property at the same time and if you have got any questions don’t stand and chat but arrange to speak over the telephone, Teams or Zoom later.

Simpson & Marwick has offices in both Edinburgh and in North Berwick, East Lothian. Further information on the firm can be found at https://simpsonmarwick.com.

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    Scott Douglas, of public relations agency Holyrood PR in Scotland

    Scott Douglas

    Scott Douglas is the co-founder of the multi award-winning Holyrood PR, renowned public relations agency in Edinburgh, Scotland.
    As well as providing expert PR services in Scotland and the UK, the former journalist heads a team which offers a host of other professional media services.
    Those include crisis management PR, photography for business PR, affordable business video, social media campaigns and strategic content planning and delivery for businesses of all sizes.

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