Yes, you can move house during the second lockdown. You can also view homes, make offers and have a survey carried out.
From the 5th November to 2nd December 2020 England is being placed into a national lockdown in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. The government has said that the new lockdown in England will not affect home moves.
The four week period, which is being dubbed Lockdown 2, will run for 4 weeks, though an extension has not been ruled out if the measures are not effective in slowing the rate of infection.
Whilst there are many similarities between this November lockdown and the one imposed in March there are some key differences – such as the property market remaining open.
On the 1st November 2020, housing minister Robert Jenrick tweeted an update to shed light on the status of the property market during the second lockdown.
Subject to all parties adhering to social distancing measures, the following will be permitted during the lockdown:
- Buyers and renters will be allowed to move
- Removal firms can continue to operate
- Estate agents can remain open
- Construction sites can continue to be open
- Tradespeople will be able to enter homes
Below we highlight the key considerations for those planning to look for a home to buy, view properties, offer on homes, proceed to purchase and move house.
Buying a house during coronavirus
As England’s property market will remain open during Lockdown 2 the following activities are allowed:
- Visiting estate agents offices, show homes and developer’s sales offices
- Viewing residential properties when looking for a property to buy or rent
- Preparing a residential property in advance of moving in
- Professional surveys and valuations
- Moving home
We’re frequently asked how the process of finding a home and moving house will work during the pandemic and even more so now during lockdown.
The property market will largely carry on as usual albeit with strict safety measures in place.
Viewing a property during lockdown
The advice for viewing a property during lockdown is for initial viewings to be carried out virtually and that property agents should facilitate this where possible.
Buyers have been asked to only view a property in person when they are seriously considering making an offer.
A helpful video guide has been published by industry body Propertymark:
How do virtual viewings work?
Agents are using a variety of tools to share properties virtually.
Certain software allows for 3D cameras to capture the property as though you are viewing in person, as though you’re walking through the property you can walk in and out of rooms, look up and down and out of the windows as you would if you were there.
Other sales agencies are offering property videos which are a walk around, in some instances agents are conducting video calls with buyers to show them around the property – this is usually only viable if a property is unoccupied.
For Garrington clients using our property finder service, we are able to offer personalised preview videos on homes which look interesting.
These videos show all of the good and bad points of each home and include personal narrative from our property finders.
In person property viewings
It is possible to view a property in person during the second lockdown.
Selling agents have been asked to take extra precautions such as avoiding ‘back to back’ appointments to allow time for surfaces can be cleaned between appointments.
All viewings are to strictly be by appointment only and ‘open days’ are banned.
Safety precautions being taken to allow in-person property viewings to continue include:
- Estate agents wearing face masks (unless exempt)
- Potential buyers wearing face masks (unless exempt)
- Children should not attend viewings
- Viewings are limited to two households – one being the Estate Agent or Vendor
- Vendors are asked to open all internal doors in advance of a viewing to minimise contact
- Vendors are also asked to allow access to handwashing facilities and to ideally supply paper towels
- When viewing potential buyers are asked to wash their hands or sanitize in advance and avoid touching surfaces where possible
- As mentioned above, when the viewing has finished steps should be taken to ensure surfaces such as door handles are cleaned.
Offering on a property
Buyers are able to make offers, developers can take reservation fees and vendors can accept offers as normal.
There is a risk of the process of buying a home being delayed if someone involved with the transaction has symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, or is self-isolating.
Solicitors should try to ensure agreements and contracts are as flexible as is possible.
Property surveys can be carried out as normal with the surveyor following the government’s guidance on social distancing and guidance for professionals working in other people’s homes.
Vendors are asked to ensure a surveyor has easy access to all parts of the property to avoid too much contact with surfaces unnecessarily.
It is often the case that a prospective buyer will want to visit a property again, usually between exchange and completion, with an interior designer or other professional.
These appointments are allowed to go ahead so long as all parties follow the guidelines and ideally only one person should visit the property at a time.
Once contracts are exchanged both buyer and seller have entered into a legal agreement to purchase a property, the same applies to tenants who’ve signed a tenancy agreement.
The government encourages all parties to be as flexible as possible in the instance that buyer or seller or their families should become ill with COVID-19.
Moving home during lockdown
Removal firms are allowed to operate with safety measures in place but their procedures will likely be different so it’s important to contact the company and confirm your move date as early as possible.
Many removals companies are requesting that where possible a household does their own packing.
The government asks that the items that must be handled by others are cleaned and that whilst removals companies are in a home social distancing should be maintained.
It is recommended that all parties regularly wash their hands or use sanitiser during the move and that refreshments are not provided to avoid the risk of transmission.
Property buying experts
If you’re looking for a home and are seeking assurance making purchasing decisions whilst restrictions are in place, a property buying agent could be of great assistance.
Providing guidance together with market insights and using their expertise to allow their clients to make well informed decisions when looking a property and moving home during the coronavirus pandemic.
To talk to us about your plans to move please do contact us, without obligation.
The above information is intended as general information only, based on known facts at the time of publication.
Given the circumstances, policy guidance is highly likely to be subject to change and local, regional and country variations.
It should therefore not be relied for any other purpose than general information.