Travelling to France to view properties
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How estate agents in France have adjusted for socially-distanced viewings
Since the publication of this article, the UK government has announced that from 04:00 BST on 15 August 2020, anyone travelling from France to the UK will have to self-quarantine for a 14-day period. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is advising against all but essential travel to France (including Corsica). You can keep track of developments in our timeline here.
France entered the first stages of its deconfinement on 11 May, and on 10 July it was announced that travel restrictions between the Uk and France were to be lifted, with reduced services operating for flights, ferries, the Eurostar and the Eurotunnel.
So, what does this mean for househunters? Estate agents in France had been keeping transactions going by arranging virtual viewings and by allowing for the digital signing of documents, but with the news that travel between the UK and France was to be relaxed, however, they anticipated many more viewings in person, maintaining social distancing and health measures.
Peter Elias of Allez-Francais said that there’s a pent-up demand from British buyers who wish to purchase before the end of the Brexit transition period, and that as a result agents’ diaries are rapidly being filled. “We are very busy and currently may not always be able to accommodate visits without good notice - it’s advised that buyers give 7-14 days notice where possible,” he says.
Sheelagh Gorham of Agence Newton agreed. “Since the ferries started we have been rushed off our feet,” she said. “Clients are very keen to buy and houses are often selling for full asking prices in the rush to beat the transition period deadline.”
Several steps have been taken to ensure the safety of viewers, owners and agents. “For any visits, visitors are required to wear a mask and gloves (or a sanitizing gel), whilst not touching surfaces and observing appropriate social distancing” said Peter. “Ahead of any visits, we need to register anyone attending the property with their personal information and details for traceability. Furthermore, travel to and from properties is by separate vehicle, and in general most of the vendors will either be out during the visit or remain in the garden, for their own safety.”
“Where home owners are present, they are requested to leave doors open and lights on where applicable so nobody needs to touch anything,” added Sheelagh.
The lifting of travel restrictions to France on 10 July meant that buyers could view properties in person, but also that for people who agreed property sales virtually under lockdown conditions, they could finally travel to their new home. In some cases this involves moving large amounts of furniture, and international removals company Burke Bros say that their entire workforce is back up and running to facilitate moves.
“We booked 24 moves from the UK to France within the first three days of our offices re-opening, and were able to phase our removal crews from furlough back into work, going from two teams to all teams being fully operational once our vans could travel to France,” said Managing Director Gary Burke. “We refuse to be complacent and the safety and wellbeing of our customers, their families and our employees is more important than eve - we will only execute removals where full Covid-19 compliance is in place.”
As well as operating removal services again, the company is offering virtual surveys to anyone who is hoping to move to France in the near future, whereby surveyors can supply customers with a quotation after viewing the volume of goods to be moved via a video.
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