Can I still view, buy, sell and move house during a local lockdown?
With coronavirus rates rising, local lockdowns are on the increase - with 1 in 5 of us now living under local restrictions. What does this mean for your house sale, purchase or move? Here's what you need to know.
Rules announced in the most recent briefing by the Prime Minister included working from home if you can, more restrictions on pubs and restaurant opening times and compulsory mask wearing for all shop workers.
Alongside this we’ve seen an increase in local lockdowns with restrictions on social interactions. Many parts of England and Wales, including the North East, Greater Manchester, West Midlands and Cardiff are subject to local restrictions which stop people mixing outside of their household or support bubble.
So, if you can’t go to a pub or restaurant with someone you don’t live with, can you buy and sell a house and move house as normal?
Yes, you can move house during local lockdown
The government advice is clear on this. Even where local restrictions apply, people can move home. Estate and letting agents as well as removals firms can continue to work and people looking to move home can continue to undertake viewings.
Can I list my home for sale during a local lockdown?
Yes. When it comes to appointing your estate agent, give them a call to speak to them. Many are only opening their office doors for people that have booked an appointment.
You can market your home and estate agents can visit in order to take photos/videos of your property.
What changes apply when moving home during coronavirus?
Whether you’re in an area under local lockdown restrictions or not, you can expect the following to apply as part of the “new normal” for moving home at the moment:
1. More is being done online
The process of searching for and moving into a new home is different because property agents, conveyancers and other professionals have modified how they work to reduce the risk from COVID-19.
These changes include doing more online, such as offering virtual viewings. While these are a good initial filter of a property you want to buy, you will want to visit it in person before parting with your hard earned cash.
2. Viewings rules
With physical viewings, the government advise:
there should be no more than 2 households inside the property at any one time. This includes any agent accompanying either party. Anyone in a support bubble with either household, however, will count as part of that household.
Viewings in person need to be arranged by appointment only. When viewing in person, you should maintain a 2 meter distance where possible and avoid touching surfaces.
Homeowners should keep internal doors open and clean surfaces and door handles with standard household cleaning products afterwards.
Government advises estate agents and potential buyers/tenants on viewings to wear face masks.
3. Expect delays and be flexible
If someone in your chain has symptoms of COVID you could have to wait while they self isolate which could add delays to your home move.
Your conveyancer will be able to make sure that any contracts or agreements are as flexible as possible to accommodate this risk.
In particular, you will want to protect yourself against the likelihood of a sudden change in circumstances which could undermine your sale and/or purchase, and expose you to unexpected costs.
A “Covid Clause” within the contract offers parties the ability to exchange contracts while ensuring you are not at fault and in breach of contract, with all of the associated costs, if you are unable to complete because of a coronavirus related issue. Speak to a conveyancing solicitor for advice.
The 3 most important ways to minimise delays are:
Instructing a conveyancing solicitor as soon as you list your home or as your offer is accepted. You can compare quotes now from conveyancing solicitors and speak to them about the process and costs so you’re ready to instruct them.
Getting your paperwork in order. If it’s a leasehold, find the lease. Locate certificates showing compliance with regulations of any works done from planning permissions to FENSA certificates for window replacements. Don’t forget valid guarantees a home buyer will want to see. See what documents you’ll need.
Sorting your mortgage. Many lenders and brokers are experiencing COVID related delays and mortgage choices have significantly reduced, especially for first time buyers. Avoid wasting time later down the line and start the process now.
4. Packing and moving
The government advise you do as much of the packing yourself. If you are using a removals firm or someone outside your household is helping you, then these additional rules apply:
clean your belongings where possible before being handled
leave doors open
do not provide refreshments
use separate towels or paper towels for hand washing where possible
You may want to speak to a cleaning firm for your home, or the house you are moving into. A deep clean of your onward home once it has been vacated might help put you at ease. To find a cleaner near you, simply type “cleaning services” in the tool below.