One thing that lockdown brings home very hard at Bridges and Orchard by Bridges is how much we all love our jobs, love our clients and love our colleagues. Sinead O’Connor once famously sang ‘Its been seven hours and fifteen days, since you took your love away’ and we very much feel like that but sadly unlike Sinead, we can’t do whatever we want, we can’t see whomever we choose and we certainly can’t eat our dinner in a fancy restaurant.

Estate agency has and always will be about people, depriving an estate agent of the ability to meet and talk to people you are effectively stopping them from working and this has very much been the keystone to the market since the outbreak of COVID–19. Whilst we all appreciate the advanced modern technology that we have at our disposal which allows people from anywhere in the world to connect for a video chat and a virtual cup of tea, there is certainly no replacement for the real thing. However, as estate agents we have to adapt!

In the lead up to the current social distancing instructions we instructed our team of agents, as quickly as possible, to get to as many of our properties as possible and produce what we like to call our mobile walkthrough videos. They certainly aren’t going to win any Oscars and Spielberg wouldn’t put his name to the production, but what they do give anyone looking for a home is a walkthrough of the property as you would see on a REAL viewing appointment, in fact, some of our guys were so good at it you almost feel like you are there! So, whilst viewing appointments aren’t deemed as essential by the government, you can certainly view most of our properties on your phone, tablet or PC from the comfort of your own home. At the time of writing we have in fact secured numerous lets and a handful of sales from these very videos. So, if you are looking to buy or rent, contact our team today who will happily provide you with the mobile walkthroughs of your chosen property once we have you registered.

Being the adaptable lot that we are we have also been able to provide a number of ‘virtual’ home valuations through modern technology, whether it be Facetime, WhatsApp or Skype, as long as we know your address and you can walk us through the property we can give you a valuation. Don’t let fear grip you, you don’t have to be a Lloyd Grossman or a Keith Lemon presenting an episode of Through the Keyhole, you simply have to walk us through your home as you would if we were there. Once we have conducted this tour and gone away to carry out our research we will come right back to you and let you know what your home is worth in the current market AND of course how the market is and going to perform in our view over the coming months. Just this week and having been provided a mobile walkthrough of a vacant property, we immediately agreed the price and terms with the seller and proceeded to call through our list of HOT buyers. Having discussed at length and having sent and briefed on the video we agreed a sale at 99.2% of the asking price. You may very well be reading headlines such as ‘Property Market Lockdown’ but don’t believe everything you read, all the time we are working we will be marketing, selling and renting properties across our area.

On Friday the 27th March we received the government official guide to moving house during the social distancing period and if you have read it, it may very well surprise you. If you have no property to sell and are buying a vacant property, go ahead and complete the move but practice safe social distancing. If you have a key worker in your chain and the move is essential, go ahead and complete but practice safe social distancing, if your move is ‘unavoidable’ during the period go ahead and complete, but practice social distancing, you can very much see where I am going here, the property market is far from ‘on lockdown’. For moves that give neither a vacant two link chain or contain a key worker, exchange of contracts are taking place with completion happening simultaneously with the exchange (to avoid a gap where any party may have to self-isolate) or with a long stop completion date on notice. What does that mean, well the simple way to explain it is you exchange contracts today and in the example of a property that we dealt with today set a completion date ‘on or before he 29th June’ meaning that if the government relax the distancing and allows more movement the completion can happen with the agreement of all parties before 29th June with some notice.  So, although its far from business as usual for us at Bridges and Orchard, its doing business unusually.

So, what does the rest of this distancing period look like for Bridges and Orchard, well we have mobilised our entire workforce to work from home which we did on the very first advice from the government. Although at first very alien, our agents are now used to this huge culture change and are working effectively with our systems and processes to allow our consultations and conversations to remain seamless as if they were at their desk in the office. We also took the steps to retain our mobile workforce who show properties day in, day out by using the governments furlough scheme meaning that when we are ready to physically enter they will be there ready and waiting to jump back into their desks and carry out the excellent work they provide for our company. What we thought was a huge testament to the culture and environment we provide at Bridges and Orchard was that everyone involved in this process told us that they would sorely miss the team whilst they were at home under this scheme, we look forward to having them back!

As many of you will know, for 29 years now we have been at the heart of the very community that we operate in and the decision was taken very early from the directors of the company that our support and sponsorship of local events would go unhindered as well as that of our long standing partnership with Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice. We were quick to reassure these partners that although we know that COVID-19 has no friends socially or in business, we will be there to support them through these times. At a time where the whole country is finally recognising the fantastic work the NHS do we are also reaching out to any NHS worker who is currently involved in moving or contemplating a move to offer free no obligation advice at a time to suit them, we know time is precious and we are there to service our wonderful NHS workers whenever they need to reach out. They are doing a fantastic job and must be commended for their bravery and tireless work at this time. We are moved by their commitment to banishing COVID-19 at this time.

So finally, we are open for business (apart from our doors!) and are able to service any part of your move with our fantastic staff, so if you are thinking of moving or know someone who is, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01252 361550 or email [email protected]