Moving Home

How the housing market is currently operating

June 26, 2020
Information published was correct at the time of writing


The good news is that in the middle of May, the Government relaxed the rules on moving home so the housing market is active once again.

However, strict guidance is in place so that everyone can stay safe. So, some of the things you were used to when buying or selling a home have changed.

What is now allowed?

You can now move home. You can also visit estate agents, carry out viewings or visit a show home.

Surveyors can carry out physical surveys at a property again, as can valuers. Removal firms are also allowed to operate normally.

What are the rules around home viewings?

If you’ve been house hunting before, then viewing a property is where the biggest difference will be felt.

If it’s your house that is being viewed, there are some basic things you’re going to need to do to minimise the risk of the virus being spread.

  • Open all the internal doors prior to a viewing
  • Allow access to handwashing facilities and ideally separate towels/paper towels
  • Ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned with standard household cleaning products and towels disposed of safely or washed as appropriate
  • Vacate your property, if possible, whilst viewings are taking place in order to minimise your contact with those not in your household

Above all, if any member of your household is displaying coronavirus-like symptoms or self-isolating, you shouldn’t let anyone come and view your property. You should also think very carefully before allowing viewings if you are vulnerable or shielding.

Your estate agent will be asking you to keep the viewing brief, and open viewings on hold.

If you’re planning on house hunting, then expect to be told to take a virtual tour first. If you do then decide to go for an in-person viewing, the Government is asking for the bare minimum number of people to take part – they certainly don’t want the whole family turning up to look around, if at all possible.

When viewing the house, you will be asked to:

  • Obey social distancing guidelines at all times
  • Avoid touching surfaces
  • Wash your hands regularly and bring hand sanitiser with you
  • Keep the viewing as brief as possible

What are the changes to the buying / selling process?

This is where you will find the least changes. Offers can be made and accepted as normal, surveys and valuations booked, and contracts exchanged and completed.

You should expect things to be a lot slower, though. With the housing market completely shut down for two months, there is quite a backlog of surveys, valuations and so on, that are being worked through.

Face to face meetings with your solicitor are also out of the question at the moment, so expect all your ID checks to be carried out online – make sure you can access a scanner, or ask your solicitor and mortgage adviser what other formats of identification documents are acceptable.

The Government is also asking for everyone to be flexible in these difficult times. If you or the person you are buying from or selling to has to self-isolate, then you won’t be able to complete the move. In fact, solicitors are being asked to add clauses that allow for such delays which is very unusual.

How is the moving process affected?

Removal firms are back up and running but the stresses of moving day may increase, depending on your point of view. Expect to be asked to do the following:

  • Do as much of the packing yourself as possible
  • Clean your belongings with normal domestic cleaning products before anyone from the removal team touches them
  • Open all internal doors and keep them open to avoid surfaces being touched
  • Maintain social distancing as much as possible
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Not to offer refreshments to the removal team
  • Make sure your removal team has access to hand washing facilities and separate towels/paper towels

All these changes might sound a bit daunting but if everyone follows these basic guidelines then everyone can stay safe and the housing market can keep operating.

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