English housing market is still open during lockdown
England is entering a new four-week national lockdown, and there are several things you should know about.
Firstly, the government has said you can still move home during this period, which is set to last until 2nd December, as long as you follow the guidelines.
In this article we’ll explain how this second lockdown will impact the housing market, as well as how the latest restrictions may affect your home move.
I live in England, can I move home?
Yes, you can still move home. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said that estate and letting agents, and removals firms, can continue to operate during lockdown.
In a message issued to the housing industry, he also announced that home-hunters are still allowed to go on property viewings, show homes and sales suites can remain open, and mortgage valuations and surveys can take place.
However, all parties involved in the home moving process must follow the national guidance on moving home safely, which includes advice on social distancing and wearing a face covering.
People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.
Can I book a removals firm?
Yes, removals firms are still able to do their jobs, but again, providing that all parties follow the safety guidelines.
It’s advised, however, that you do as much of the packing as you can yourself, and if at all possible, give your belongings a quick spray or wipe-down with a disinfectant before they’re handled by someone else.
When the removals’ team is around, do your best to maintain distance and wash your hands regularly. Unfortunately you won’t be able to offer them refreshments – which of course they’ll understand.
It’s also recommended that you book your removals company as early as possible. In many areas they’re very busy and it may be a challenge for you to find one available at a short notice.
I’m in the middle of buying a home, should I expect any delays during lockdown?
It’s possible that in some areas the conveyancing process will be slower than usual right now.
This is because some solicitors and agents may be operating at limited capacity, or are very busy working through deals that have stacked up since earlier in the year.
If you’re about to enter into a legally binding contract, you should discuss the possible implications of one of the parties being affected by having to self-isolate or quarantine. Ask your legal representative if they can include provisions to manage these risks in the contracts.
If someone in your household – or the other party’s – began to show any flu symptoms just as you’re about to complete, you’ll need to postpone things by a few weeks.
The government says we should all remain flexible in this sort of scenario, so it would be ideal if your contracts can reflect that.
Can I go on a property viewing?
Yes, if you’re looking to move home, you can continue going to viewings.
If you can, try to do a virtual viewing first though. It’ll reduce the number of viewings agents do, which also minimises the spread of germs.
It could also save you time, because you’ll have a better idea of whether a house is worth seeing or not.
When viewing a property in person, make sure you wear a face mask, avoid touching surfaces, and wash your hands or use sanitiser before and after.
There shouldn’t be more than two households within the property at any one time, and viewings should only be arranged by appointment, so ‘open houses’ aren’t happening at the moment.
If you’re selling your home and are having interested buyers come around to have a look, open all the inside doors beforehand so they don’t have to touch the door handles.
It’s recommended that you’re not in the property during the viewing, and that you disinfect all surfaces after.
See our full guide on how to view property safely.
Will estate agent branches be open?
Yes, the latest set of rules – which were rubberstamped by Parliament yesterday – state that people are allowed to leave their homes to visit estate agent branches during lockdown.
Specifically, the guidance says that people can leave their home to undertake any of the following activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property:
- visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes;
- viewing residential properties to look for a property to buy or to rent;
- preparing a residential property to move in;
- visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or
- sale of that property
Can I put my home on the market?
Yes, you can put your home on the market and look for properties to buy or rent. However, if you or any member of your household is showing symptoms of coronavirus or is self-isolating, then estate agents and potential buyers should not visit your property in person.
Everyone should follow the latest guidance for households with confirmed or possible coronavirus infection.
Estate agents can still visit to take photos of your property. As usual, you should also start to gather together the necessary documents to sell your home.
To help prevent the spread of infection, the government recommends that you carry out initial property searches online, and only visit a property in person when you are seriously considering making an offer on it.
If you’re planning to buy a new-build property, you should contact the developer. You should be able to make an appointment to view the show home or visit the particular plot you are interested in purchasing.
Can tradespeople come out to my home to carry out work?
The current rules do allow tradespeople to carry out work in your home, as long as they have no coronavirus symptoms and are following all the necessary safety guidance.
However, it’s worthwhile making sure you’ve covered all bases to ensure you keep yourself, anyone else in your household, and the people carrying out the works, safe.
For example, ahead of the work starting you should ask:
- Does anyone involved have symptoms of the virus?
- Is there anyone with underlying health conditions in the property?
- Are there any sick or elderly people living there who could be affected?
- Could anyone entering the property impact on the health of anyone living in it?
- Will anyone visiting, such as a surveyor or tradesperson, be affected by working in my home?
- Will all the people working in the home be wearing the correct PPE (personal protective equipment)?
In addition, traders should not go to homes of anyone who is self isolating or at risk from the virus.
However, if the work you are having done is not urgent, you may want to reschedule it for a more convenient time.
Depending on the issue you have, you may even find that an electrician, plumber or gas engineer may be able to help solve your problem remotely – maybe via Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangouts.
I’m in the middle of a renovation, can it continue?
Yes, renovation work can still continue during this lockdown period. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced on social media that:
- Construction sites can and should continue
- Tradespeople will be able to enter homes
- All parties must follow the Covid safety guidance
It goes without saying that if anyone in your household is self-isolating or is showing symptoms of the virus, that all works should be rescheduled until it’s safe to resume.
The same goes for any tradespeople due to be working in your home.
To help ensure that all parties remain as safe as possible during the renovation, you should:
- Keep your distance from any visitors and avoid physical contact
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitiser
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home such as door handles, light switches and your kettle
I live in Wales, can I move home?
On Friday 23rd October, Wales entered a two-week firebreak period to help curtail the spread of coronavirus.
This means that since 6pm on 23rd October, until Monday morning (9th November), much of the Welsh housing market has been temporarily paused as Wales seeks to help ease pressure on the NHS.
As such, viewings and visiting high street offices are not currently allowed. Here’s our full update on the Welsh firebreak.
For more information on the latest official guidance for home-movers in Wales, click here.
I live in Scotland, can I move home?
Under the new tiered system, home moving is still allowed as long as it can happen safely. If an area moves into tier 4, the Scottish Government advises that people “may wish to consider if they can postpone a move and related activities”.
To read the latest official for Scottish home-movers, click here.
How can I view property safely?
For more information on how to view property safely, and how you can follow the Covid safety guidance, click here.
Protecting yourself and those in the property you’re viewing
Whether it’s on your way to a viewing, or once you get there, remember these three key pieces of advice from the government:
To read the government’s latest announcement on the new lockdown, click here.