Return to homebuying in England after lockdown – update
13 May 2020
By Andi Michael
Last night a government statement lifted lockdown on the moving home process in England, meaning that those buying and selling can continue, or begin, their home moves. The government have outlined social distancing rules for each stage of the process.
Please note: if you or someone in your household are self isolating or have been displaying symptoms, you should not arrange any events that would include interactions or visits from others. You can start the process digitally, but must delay any in-person interactions.
Viewing a property
With many people on the waiting list to view properties, estate agents are eager to get back to work. There are some options for virtual viewings, but for most making a big purchase, you’re going to want to visit in person. Most agents will encourage a virtual viewing first, with only those really interested in moving to the next stage booking in for physical viewings.
Here’s what you need to know:
- No more than 2 people can visit a property at a time
- The owners will not be in the home (where possible)
- All cupboards and doors will be left open to ensure you do not need to touch anything
- You will need to wear protective clothing inside the property (gloves, masks, shoe coverings)
- Viewings will likely be limited to 15 minutes
- Agents may have antibacterial wipes/sprays with them to clean surfaces in case anyone does touch anything
- There will be no more open house viewings with multiple people
- Agents will not drive clients to viewings
Selling your home
You will be able to list your home with an estate agent, and are encouraged to limit interaction and keep social distancing rules at all times. This would mean calling to give the estate agent as much information as possible before they need to visit.
Organising a visit would include:
- The estate agent wearing gloves, a mask and other protective clothing
- Keeping others out of the property as much as possible.
- The above rules regarding viewings.
Talk to your estate agent about how they are safely conducting visits and viewings during this time. Be sure to clean down your property both before and after viewings, and limit any unnecessary interaction.
Compare estate agents and ask questions
Getting a mortgage
Mortgages are still available, and as surveyors will now be able to offer valuations, the range of products should increase once more. It’s worth being aware that there still may be a limited number of offers because of the economy at the moment, and considering that if you are furloughed at a lower rate of pay, this will impact your mortgage offer.
Speak to a mortgage advisor for more options
Getting a conveyancer
Conveyancing solicitors are still working remotely in many cases and may continue to do so going forward. You are still able to instruct a conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer to deal with your property sale or purchase. The Land Registry have warned there may be some delays with searches, but overall much of the conveyancing process can be done online. It’s only when it comes to signing documents that you’ll need a witness present. Ensure you keep to social distancing guidelines and wear protective clothing.
Get a conveyancing solicitor for your home move
Getting a survey
Surveyors are able to visit properties again, both for surveys and valuations. Similar to the estate agency guidelines, surveyors have been advised by RICS to take all precautions when visiting homes. Ideally the owner would wait outside of the property when the surveyor was inside, or in a different room where there is no outside space. Surveyors will wear gloves, a mask and other protective garments where necessary.
Talk to the surveyor about what they’ll need access to on their visit so you can limit them touching anything in the property.
Get a survey for your home move
Removals firms are usually the last point in the moving process and for many stuck mid-move, it was the transfer of their items that caused the issue. In most cases, removals firms won’t be able to remain socially distant from each other whilst transferring your items from one property to another.
However, there are ways to help keep everyone safe:
Find a removals firm
- Do your packing yourself, which will limit the number of things removals firms have to touch, and the time spent in your property.
- Be very clear in advance about what items you have, and if any require disassembly and reassembly.
- Being fully packed and prepared, with the items easily accessible will limit time in the property and help the team be efficient.
- Stay out of the way of the removals team when they start work, keeping socially distant from them. If you have any children or pets, make sure they are out of the way too.
- The team members will be wearing protective gear, including masks, gloves and potentially other coverings.
Previously, you were able to move into a property if it had been vacant. In order to protect yourself, you may wish to organise a staggered move into your new property, rather than moving in on the same day the previous owners are moving out. You may also want to arrange for a cleaning company to thoroughly clean the property before your arrival.
If you are unwell or believe yourself to have symptoms of coronavirus it is incredibly important not to put anyone at risk. We know that moving home can be a stressful process, even without all of these extra measures, but if you are unwell it’s incredibly important that you do not interact with more people, even when keeping social distancing guidelines.
Talk to your providers at each stage of the journey, as they will all be working out processes that work to protect their staff and their customers. Things make take a little longer, but we are sure that being able to move forward with moves in England will be a relief for many of those stuck in limbo, waiting to move into their new home.
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