It wasn’t the greatest of starts to 2021, with the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing on January 4 that a new national lockdown in England would come into play from January 6, lasting until at least March 31.
However, there was some positive news as it was also announced that the property market could remain open, as it did in the November lockdown.
The property market’s status as a multiplier – with buyers and sellers requiring additional products and services – has helped it to remain open as it provides a vital boost to the economy in these most difficult of times.
The rules on moving home during Lockdown 3.0 are largely the same as they have been since the property market reopened in mid-May, but with January set to be the worst month of the pandemic so far it’s even more important than ever that people are extra vigilant and cautious.
Below, we outline what buyers and sellers need to bear in mind...
Moving home during coronavirus
According to the government guidance on moving home during the Covid-19 crisis, the housing market in England remains open during the national lockdown, with people looking to move home able to both continue with planned moves and view new properties to move into in the future.
Estate and lettings agents, removers, valuers and people in sales and lettings offices and show homes will be able to continue working, assuming that strict health and safety guidelines are adhered to.
When moving home, one of the simplest steps that can be taken is to wash your hands frequently and keep as much distance as possible from other people who are not members of your household.
The government advises that those moving home should follow the latest guidance on practical steps to reduce transmission as well as maintaining a two-metre distance apart wherever possible.
Virtual viewings in the first instance are still being encouraged, to reduce unnecessary contact and to ensure that people are serious about a property before visiting in-person.
Sellers should vacate their current property during viewings to limit the number of people in the household at any one time, while the property should also be thoroughly cleaned before and after viewings and before someone else moves in.
The government has said that it may become necessary to pause all home moves locally or nationally for a short period of time to manage the spread of coronavirus, but there are no signs that this will happen yet.
Following the rules
The rules are largely as they were at the point at which the property market reopened in mid-May, so agents have become well-versed in carrying out home moves safely in a controlled environment with the minimum of risk.
People visiting an agent’s office or viewing a property in person should wear a suitable face covering as described in the government guidance, unless they are exempt.
Open house viewings, for obvious reasons, are currently prohibited, while in-person viewings should be arranged by appointment only.
When viewing properties physically, buyers should avoid touching surfaces wherever possible, wash their hands regularly and/or use hand sanitiser.
The government advises that hotels, hostels and other such public accommodation can be used by people while moving home or people who are unable to return to their main residence.
What’s more, second homes and other private accommodation can be used by people while moving home or who are unable to return to their main residence.
Sellers, meanwhile, should prepare for viewings by opening all internal doors and windows to ensure the home is well-ventilated, while also ensuring that key touchpoints and surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned after each viewing.
It’s recommended that you leave your property while viewings are taking place to reduce unnecessary contact.
Meanwhile, it’s vital that anyone involved in any aspect of the home-moving process practices social distancing in line with public health advice at all times.
When it comes to moving between properties, you and those in your household should try to do as much of the packing as possible. If this is not feasible, you should speak to removal firms in advance to discuss your options.
For those particularly worried about the risk of infection when moving, you can speak to your estate agent or removal firm as they may be able to put extra precautionary measures in place.
Market still booming
Despite the challenges posed by Lockdown 3.0, the property market is still thriving as the overspill from a very busy 2020 continues into 2021, further boosted by the stamp duty holiday.
Conditions remain good for both buyers and sellers, thanks to the aforementioned holiday, low interest rates, a competitive mortgage market and strong house price growth. There is a good chance that sellers will get asking price or above for their homes at present, while buyers should be able to save on stamp duty and move in quickly as everyone is keen to get things over the line as soon as possible.
In spite of high-profile petitions and a new campaign from the Daily Telegraph, the government has shown no signs of budging on the stamp duty holiday deadline, but this could change closer to the time. Even once the holiday ends, the boost provided by the vaccine rollout could help to sustain the market into Q2.
Here at Knight Edmonds, we can help you to move safely during the pandemic. We can provide you with all the advice you need on buying and selling properties at this time.