A North East firm of estate agents and chartered surveyors says people must stay at home and limit journeys to those considered absolutely necessary, which includes property viewings, appraisals and other aspects of day-to-day business operations, to save lives.

The advice from County Durham Vickers & Barrass comes as the government’s position remains clear that unless it’s essential, people should not leave their homes.

Staff at the firm, which has offices in Tow Law, Crook and Darlington, are working from home without the need to travel into their offices and cooperating closely with partner companies and their clients to offer advice and support while observing official guidance.

This is particularly pleasing for the firm in the current period where the government’s advice to homebuyers and tenants is, where possible, delay moving while these current measures are in place to fight the pandemic.

Edd Forster, property sales and lettings manager at Vickers and Barrass, said: “These are unprecedented times; unlike anything we have previously experienced. We have put measures in place to allow us to remotely operate our business from home without the need to travel. So, we would ask that all our clients do the same to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

“Our phone lines are fully functional. People can also visit our website vickersandbarrass.co.uk – where they will find our sales and letting’s properties to browse through as well as our contact page with other options to reach us electronically. We have even mastered video calling – with the aid of modern technology, we are able to offer alternatives in some instances until the restrictions are lifted.

“People still require properties to buy, vendors still require a quality estate agency service and landlords still need to know that their property and tenants are being looked after. This will not change. We are working to support the local property chain, offering advice, expertise and assistance to help clients wherever possible, even though completing their move may be delayed.”

Advice from Vickers & Barrass includes:

  • If your home is not yet on the market contact the estate agent by phone or via the contact page on the website for the best advice about the local property market and advertising.
  • All parties should work together to agree a delay or another way to resolve this matter if contracts have been exchanged and the property is currently occupied.
  • Talk to your finance advisor or mortgage lender to extend for up to three months your offer so that you can move at a later date.
  • Your estate agent will also assist in expediting the offer, which could be longer during the current crisis.
  • The best way to progress to final contract or expedite contractual provisions to take account of the risks presented by the virus.

Despite the tough conditions, Edd Forster wants to see more properties become available to meet demand when the coronavirus crisis is over.

He said: “A chronic lack of available housing stock continues to hamper the local market both in sales and rentals. We would like to see more supply to meet the demand for both the residential letting and house buying sectors, which have been very active across the County over the last 12 months.

“This will put the market in a strong position to ‘relaunch’ as soon as the movement restrictions are lifted. Or if the properties are available now, we can move quickly to market them to secure demand.”

The government’s comprehensive advice on home moving during the coronavirus outbreak is available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak