Pre-lockdown, through lockdown and lockdown easing … how the landscape has changed
The last 4 months have seen wholesale changes across all sectors of the UK economy and whilst we continue to see the cautious easing of lockdown we are forever changed.
We are noticing that business is different and what people need is different.
Lockdown vs easing … our experience
Working in both the legal and property sectors we have observed that whilst most firms are back to work operational models and resourcing will continue to be different to pre lockdown conditions reshaping how we all do business.
Before lockdown … buoyant
Before lockdown the market was strong:
- We were busy with instructions to market managing a calendar of well attended open houses, amongst other property marketing methods, which saw 50% of properties, at open house, sell quickly and at above market value.
- Our HMRC compliant, easy-to-read, well evidenced, property valuations were in high demand.
- Our property maintenance services; house and garden clearance, property maintenance, inspections and document search, again were in high demand helping executors, deputies and beneficiaries to keep property safe and protected.
- Our simple and easy to arrange vacant property insurance was used by executors managing multiple property portfolios as well as beneficiaries wanting to keep their unoccupied property covered.
During lockdown … needing to adapt
It was clear that our clients and partners were facing enormous challenges; working remotely and unable to access offices and physical assets, reduction in team sizes and therefore available resource, all the while maintaining existing or increasing workloads.
We understood that we needed to quickly adapt to help to manage risk and concern under new restrictions and where possible, and if required, to fill gaps in client’s service provision.
- Property valuations – we continued providing valuation services via desktop valuations which provided clients with accurate and well evidenced desktop reports, upgradable to a full report upon the easing of lockdown (at a reduced price in response to current conditions)
- Open house marketing events – by employing an appointment-based system and a set of guidelines to ensure social distancing and cleaning between appointments we were able to continue to carry these out.
- Emergency property maintenance – we were able to manage property maintenance on behalf of clients keeping property safe and providing peace of mind throughout full lockdown.
- Continuity of service – we took a more hands-on approach to property inspections and search work, work that required a physical presence in place of agents and solicitors.
- Access to keys was a challenge, given the closure of Estate Agent’s offices. We put in place a remote easy access solution across the UK that means no access limitations and no delays.
- Flexible approach to vacant property insurance – Insuring unoccupied property with policies that do not require regular inspections to remain valid
In addition to the above, and in speaking to clients and partners, we moved into new areas of work:
- Lettings management – managing rental property portfolios on behalf of solicitors
- Finance – working with our partners to provide financial products more adapted to lockdown conditions
We are all pleased to see that we have moved through the deepest periods of lockdown into a phase of cautious easing of guidelines.
It has been interesting however to see that this has not meant that businesses have returned to the ways of working well established pre-March 2020. Many offices remain closed, teams remain reduced and access to physical assets is still a challenge, often time consuming.
We have found that many of the challenges we faced in lockdown still remain, that clients need us to be able to continue to be closely involved and provide solutions to challenges in their own resourcing:
- Managing open house viewings and sales events
- Attending to manage to property maintenance
- Inspecting property
- Conducting searches; document and asset searches
- Managing access to keys
- Ensuring property is protected by insurance (often arranged with short notice)
- Online training of staff – in our sister business Moving Made Easy we have working with many of the UK’s major housebuilders to help train their staff and manage their own resource challenges
The adaptations made to our business at the beginning of lockdown have therefore stood us in good stead to continue to help clients and keep their workflow ticking along mitigating risk, releasing the time of busy executors and providing a range of efficient services and a complete solution for any probate property matter.
Here to help
Do get in touch to find out how we can help with any probate or Court of Protection property matter. Whether you need assistance with property maintenance, valuation and sale or insurance we have the right services for you, to release your fee earning time and save the estate money.
- Dean Harris – Dean heads up our Business Development Team working with solicitors, legal partners and individuals across the UK providing Probate and Court of Protection property related services.
Dean is all about delivering a professional service, quickly and easily and his extensive corporate background means he understands how to assist clients seamlessly. He is happy to roll his sleeves up and get involved in the varied requirements of Probate and Court of Protection.
- Heidi Jenkins – Heidi heads up our work in the North and the Midlands working with legal practices providing solutions that release the professional time of partners and provide cost savings for the estate without compromising delivery.
Heidi is experienced in the workings of legal departments and in the varied needs of probate and court of protection cases. Heidi will find a solution to any challenge and will deliver that solution in a warm, friendly and efficient way.
This article was submitted to be published by Executor Solutions as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Wills and Probate. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Wills and Probate.