As the UK continues its third National Lockdown, schools are still closed and many of us continue to work from home. There is no definitive end date to this lockdown yet and with talks of further restrictions being implemented in the near future, what does this all mean if you want to move home? Here we discuss what rules and restrictions that continue to apply for your next home move.

Can I move home now?

In short, yes. The Government have allowed the housing market to remain open. Unlike the first lockdown last year that only allowed ‘critical’ moves, restrictions for this lockdown do allow those wishing to move to still do so – this applies for both renters and buyers. There have been calls from the Labour leader Keir Starmer to close the housing market, whether Boris Johnson concedes from the growing pressure, is yet to be confirmed.

Are lettings / estate agents still open?

Yes, you can still go into an estate agent, however most are working to an appointment system.

Are viewings allowed?

The current rules state you can view properties in person and also host viewings, but ‘virtual viewings’ are still recommended in the first instance where possible.

Are there any rules I need to follow if I am viewing a property in person?

Yes. Government have been clear on this aspect and all social distancing guidelines must be adhered to during a viewing. It is recommended that sellers and buyers sanitise hands frequently during a viewing, avoid touching any surfaces – especially young children – and to keep ‘as much distance as possible’ from other people who are not members of your household bubble. If you are hosting the viewings, it is advised you vacate the property during the viewings, to have as much fresh air and ventilation flowing (ie: opening windows and doors) throughout the property as possible and all parties to wear face masks.

Current rules for England, Scotland, Wales and N Ireland can be found on respective Government sites.

Can I attend an open house viewing?

No. ‘Open houses’ that allow multiple people to view a property at the same time, are not allowed. Properties are to be viewed virtually, or by an appointment only basis to ensure provisions are made for social distancing measures.

I am classed as ‘clinically vulnerable’ – can I still move?

Government have advised those who are clinically vulnerable or shielding to consider their need to move ‘carefully’ before going ahead. If the move can’t be delayed or avoided, it is recommended to seek medical advice from your GP before you commit to move. If moving to an empty property, a new retirement home or a new build, then this is a safer option as the accommodation would be empty and therefore carry a lower risk of contamination. There is more helpful information for the clinically vulnerable on the Government website.

What happens if someone in my house develops Covid-19 symptoms?

If you or anyone in your household bubble develop Covid-19 symptoms, you need to self-isolate and follow current Government guidelines immediately. Those with symptoms or a positive test must not host or attend any viewings and follow all isolation rules.

Can I hire a removal company?

Yes, although current guidelines request that you try to pack as many of your belongings yourself as possible when moving home, to avoid unnecessary cross contamination. If you can’t pack yourself, discuss your needs with your local removal firm who will have guidelines in place for your safety.

If you can’t hire a removal company, you can ask the help of one other household, but you must adhere to social distancing at all times and follow hygiene / hand-washing rules.

Can surveyors and tradespeople visit my house for the purpose of selling / buying?

Yes, but only one trade may attend at one time – its advised to not mix trades or tradespeople on site.

Are there currently delays within the housing market?

It is widely reported in the press that renters, buyers and sellers are all facing delays at present. A delay can’t be avoided if a member of the chain develops Covid-19 symptoms and must self-isolate, this then has a knock-on effect to everyone involved in that chain. Agents are not able to book appointments when they want to, kids being home-schooled is limiting when viewings can take place, and with many of the ‘behind the scenes’ parties working from home, conveyancing is taking longer, and mortgage agreements are being delayed simply due to the sheer volume of applications.

With all the above factors playing a key role in the time it completes a sale, get prepared to be a little more patient during this time as delays are likely to be inevitable.  You can help keep things on track by being super organised and having all your mortgage / finances in place – this will help avoid any delays from your side to keep the wheels in motion.

I need to move before the stamp duty rules change again on March 31st – will I have time?

Many buyers are wanting to take advantage of the stamp duty relief that lasts till March 31st, but with time now ticking fast towards the deadline, selling and completing via the traditional way may not be possible in order to meet the forthcoming deadline. In order to guarantee completion, Spring’s home buying service is proving invaluable to our customers who must complete before March 31st, or who’s sale has broken down due to no fault of their own.  We can complete on your home sale in as little as 7 days, keeping your sale on track and you in control.

Selling to Spring provides a ‘contact-less’ sale thanks to Spring Secure - which means no viewings, which dramatically reduces any contamination risk during lockdown. Your property sale is guaranteed, and we complete on a timescale that suits your onward move. To help you plan and make your next move safely, Spring gives you 14 days post completion to gain access to your property thus greatly reducing the stress and pressure of moving on a set date.

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