Can I view, buy, sell and move house in lockdown 2021?
The UK is now in lockdown, January 2021. What does this mean for your house sale, purchase or move?
A lockdown has been introduced in England until the mid-February half-term. We are all being asked to stay home, work from home where we can and all schools are closed with online learning for most.
Scotland enters a lockdown now until end January, while Northern Ireland and Wales are already in lockdown.
Can I still move house in lockdown?
Yes, you can still move home.
But, people outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.
Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work. If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings.
All parties must follow the national guidance on moving home safely, which includes social distancing, letting fresh air in, and wearing a face covering.
Can I visit other areas to move home during COVID now?
Yes. The sales and rental markets remain open. All associated activities can continue as before.
You are allowed to stay overnight away from your home if you need accommodation while moving house.
Obviously though, the government is asking us to use our judgement and only move if absolutely necessary.
If you need to travel into a different area, that activity can continue, if it can’t be delayed to a later date.
Can I view a property during the coronavirus pandemic?
Yes. But see below for guidance on how these should be conducted.
Can a friend/relative help me move?
Government advice is that people outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.
Can I list my home for sale at the moment?
Yes. When it comes to appointing your estate agent, give them a call to speak to them. You can visit an estate agent but 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 about COVID restrictions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?
Yes, in all countries you are permitted to move house if you can’t delay your move to when restrictions are lifted.
In England, you should follow the national guidance on moving home safely, which includes advice on social distancing and wearing a face covering.
In Wales, if you can’t delay the moving date, then follow their guidance for moving during the pandemic.
What changes apply when moving home during Coronavirus?
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.
If you are selling, then online estate agents offer an affordable and, as the name suggests, online service. Take a look at our online estate agent comparison table which compares all the main providers, from PurpleBricks to YOPA so you can choose the right package and price for your house sale.
2. Viewings rules
With physical viewings, the government advise that:
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.
Estate agents and potential buyers/tenants should wear face masks during viewings.
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 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 mortgage 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.
Can a trades person still come into my house?
Yes – tradespeople like electricians, plumbers, repairers of domestic appliances can enter your home. They will need to follow social distancing guidance.
Can I visit my second home during lockdown?
Government guidance says you cannot leave your home or the place where you are living for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse for doing so. This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed. This includes staying in a second home or caravan, if that is not your primary residence.