Reuters
Reuters

No change for real estate under new lockdown rules

By Opinion Time of article published Jan 4, 2021

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The adjusted Level 3 lockdown regulations will have a minimal effect on the real estate industry, says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group.

“Clearly President Ramaphosa and the government would like to keep as much of the economy as possible up and running at this time, and because the real estate industry has just kept operating under the first set of Level 3 protocols that were put in place back in June, it is recognized as a very low risk sector in terms of the Covid-19 second wave.

“Consequently, all our sales and rental agents will continue to be fully available to our customers for home valuations, listings and viewings. Our business partners such as attorneys and mortgage originators will also be operating as usual, and most of the Deeds offices around the country are set to re-open next week so we do not expect any untoward delays in property transfers.”

He notes that the real estate industry is reaping the benefits now of being one of the quickest to adapt to remote working when SA was placed under Level 5 lockdown in March. “Certainly, most of the agents in our group are now able to work completely remotely and make use of technology to facilitate most of their interactions with home owners, buyers and tenants, with physical meetings being pretty much limited to property viewings by appointment while following strict Coivd-19 protocols.

“And they have concluded literally thousands on transactions online this year, because they have continued to offer superior service and because our digital platforms offer prospective buyers and tenants such brilliant pre-views of our listings through excellent photography and video tours.

“In our digital real estate eco-system, buyers are also able to apply for their home finance online, and even complete most of the paperwork required to effect transfer of their new homes – although we do still recommend that they visit the attorney’s office personally if they are paying over a deposit or need to sign any legal documents.”

However, says Everitt, prospective buyers and tenants who are currently entering the market for the first time may wish to know what the industry protocols are for home viewings.

These were published by the Estate Agency Affairs Board in June and include the following:

  • Physical property viewings should only be arranged after a buyer or tenant has expressed definite interest in the property and should be kept brief;
  • Everyone involved must be advised of the safety protocols ahead of the viewing and must agree in writing to adhere to these;
  • Prospective buyers or tenants may not travel to the property in the agent’s vehicle – they can only meet on site;
  • Only two people at a time may view the property, and any current occupants need to vacate the property while they are there;
  • Everyone on site must wear a mask at all times (and under the new regulations it is now illegal not to wear one anywhere in public);
  • If there is more than one viewing scheduled on the same day, the agent must ensure that the property is ventilated and that all surfaces are sanitised in between viewings;
  • Visitors to the property who refuse to have their temperature checked or sanitise their hands must be refused entry;
  • Visitors must confirm in writing that they have not to their knowledge been in contact with anyone who has Covid-19 for at least 14 days before the viewing and do not themselves have any symptoms of the virus, including a cough, a sore throat, red eyes, shortness of breath or weakness;
  • Viewings may not be conducted if any resident of the property has contracted Covid-19 within the past 14 days or been in contact with anyone else who has tested positive for the virus;
  • Agents must as far as possible ensure that no surfaces, handles or objects are touched during the viewing, and must immediately afterwards sanitise any that are.

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