With the UK now in lockdown, will this have any effect on your house purchase, sale, or move?
The government has introduced a lockdown in England until at least mid-February in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus. This lockdown asks that we all stay at home, work from home if we can effectively do so, and schools will be closed with online learning for many. In addition, Scotland is now also in lockdown until the end of January, whilst Wales and Northern Ireland are already in lockdown.
In the latest update, the government stated that the housing market in England will still remain open during the lockdown and people will still be able to continue with their planned house moves and view new properties. However, there are a lot of guidelines that need to be followed when carrying out your home move or property viewings to ensure that you are doing so in a COVID-safe way.
Government guidelines recommend that you opt for virtual property viewings where possible to minimise health risks. You should also carry out property searches online and then only visit a property in person once you are in serious consideration of placing an offer for the property. This will help reduce physical contact and it can also help reduce the chance of spreading the virus.
For those that are conducting or undertaking viewings, we summarise the government guidelines below:
- All property viewings need to be booked by appointment only. Open property viewings should not take place in order to reduce spreading the infection.
- Face coverings should be worn by members of the public, as well as estate agents and letting agents. If you are exempt from this requirement, you should confirm this with the agent before viewing the property in person.
- Properties that are being viewed should have all of the internal doors open to reduce physical contact with surfaces. Handwashing facilities and separate towels or paper towels should also be accessible.
- If there is a viewing taking place in your property, the guidelines recommend vacating for the duration to minimise unnecessary contact.
- After the property viewing has finished, the occupant should ensure that the surfaces are cleaned with standard household cleaning products and towels are washed or safely disposed of. Surfaces such as door handles and railings will need to be cleaned.
As mentioned before, the housing market in England remains open which means that you can still market your home and look for new properties to rent or buy. The guidelines state that if you or any member of your household has symptoms of the coronavirus or is self-isolating, the estate agents and potential buyers should not visit your property in person.
When it comes to moving homes, those that are outside of your household or support bubble should not help with the moving unless it is absolutely necessary. The guidelines also state that you should try to complete as much of the packing yourself as you can. If you are using a removal firm, you may wish to ask them for advice for packing items beforehand, particularly for the more fragile belongings. Everyone involved should avoid touching surfaces where possible and wash their hands regularly and/or use hand sanitiser.
Removal firms are still able to continue to operate but their operating hours and procedures may differ to ensure a safer removal service.
- The government recommends that where possible, you should clean your belongings with standard domestic cleaning products before letting others handle and move your items, including removal firms.
- When removers are in your property, you should open all internal doors and maintain social distancing of at least 2 metres where possible.
- You should not provide refreshments and you should ensure that removers have access to facilities for hand-washing and using separate towels, or paper towels if possible. Towels should be washed or safely disposed of afterwards.
For more information about buying, selling or moving home during the lockdown, please visit the government website here.
About Stuart Mosley
Stuart Mosley (CeFA, CeMap, CLTM) founded SJ Financial Solutions in June 2005 having spent 12 years with big corporates such as Halifax and Santander. He felt the personal touch and straight speaking was missing from financial and mortgage advice services and set up SJ Financial Solutions to change this.
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