The UK government website has posted their advice to citizens — both those who own homes or are buying homes and those who rent — on how to handle moving during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government suggests being flexible and adapting normal processes as needed during this time. They acknowledge that getting homes for sale onto the market, conducting viewings and sticking to timelines will all be difficult. They have also provided advice to estate agents, conveyancers, surveyors and removal firms. Most of this advice follows a very common-sense approach, and ultimately they encourage citizens to delay moves whenever possible for the time being.

Their advice has been broken into these three areas of focus:

  1. Buying and selling homes during this stay-at-home period
  2. Advice to the public
  3. Advice to industry

Here in the U.S., the situation is so fluid at the moment that we are having to update our coverage daily based on state regulations. I checked in with a few of our experts that are on the relocation front lines to hear more about what they are seeing.

The following is from Kelly House, Plus's Manager of Real Estate Services. He shares some additional insights into real estate transactions across the country:

"The U.S. market is segmented into 50 different states and regulations as it pertains to 'stay-at-home' orders. Each state must determine if they are issuing a stay-at-home order and subsequently which services remain viable during this time. For the majority of states that have issued stay-at-home orders, the broader residential real estate transaction has remained viable, meaning agents, title, appraisers and inspectors are allowed to perform their core functions to keep the market moving but with increased safety precautions." Kelly suggests reading, "Do real estate agents provide an essential service?" published recently by HousingWire.com.

Kelly continued with, "The real estate team at Plus guides our relocating employees across the U.S. and Canada. Given that each state is experiencing different impacts related to the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequently each state has different guidelines related to how real estate transactions should be handled under a stay-at-home order, our team is tracking our supplier network for brokerages, title, inspectors and appraisers daily within those markets. This allows us to properly guide our relocating employees and clients so they can make an informed decision on how to proceed with their relocation. The vast majority of states have classified real estate transactions and services associated with those transactions as essential business services during a stay-at-home order. Although each supplier is proceeding with extreme caution to protect the health and safety of their clients and employees, technology has quickly been adapted to limit the number of physical interactions within the real estate transaction. Some of those examples are agents hosting virtual tours of homes for clients, online notary services and electronic signing for closings. Overall, the real estate industry has remained fluid during this time and shown the ability to adapt to both the client’s needs and government regulations to keep the industry viable.

"To date, we have not experienced many transactions being cancelled due to COVID-19. Closings within all 50 states have remained on schedule and operational with additional precautions in place to limit person-to-person interaction. We have seen mixed responses from our relocating employees during this time, as some seek options to list and complete their relocation within the shortest duration possible while others have elected to pause for 15-30 days and re-engage with the real estate process once further information is available. At Plus, it is our responsibility to have the necessary information to help guide our relocating employees so they can make an informed decision on how to best approach their relocation and family needs during this time."

Talent and talent mobility programs are working in a new environment, one in which there are 265 million people in 32 states in the U.S. alone who are being urged to stay-at-home. Currently, more than 100 countries have travel restrictions in place. Many countries around the world have had to implement very tough measures, even strict lockdowns. The FTSE, Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nikkei have all seen huge falls since the outbreak began in late December.

While many of us are settling into "work from home" and have resolved that it could be a while before things get back closer to normal, others are imagining the variety of ways that talent mobility will look in a post-coronavirus world. Stay tuned to our Trending Topics page as we forge ahead and consider a wide variety of issues impacting global mobility programs across the world.