Thu 03 Dec 2020
As we come to the end of the second lockdown, the government has announced a few changes to the three-tier system that was in place previously in England.
This means that there could be different sets of restrictions that apply depending on where you live.
You may be planning on moving home soon, or perhaps are right in the middle of a move, and would like to know if or how you can still carry on with your plans.
Read on for the latest lowdown, but the short version is that the housing market remains open across all of the UK. This week’s update is specific to England, so if you live in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland, make sure you stay up to date with these countries’ latest guidelines.
How do local tiers affect my move?
The good news is that the housing market is open and operating irrespective of what tier you’re in.
This means you’re totally free to move homes if you want to – as long as you’re not self-isolating or quarantining.
There are some guidelines for home-moving that apply everyone across the country. Here’s a quick recap of some of the most important ones to keep in mind:
Try to do a virtual viewing first, if it’s an option. It’ll reduce the number of viewings agents do, which also minimises the spread of germs.
It could also save you time, because you’ll have a better idea of whether a house is worth seeing or not.
When viewing a property in person, make sure you wear a face mask, avoid touching surfaces, and wash your hands or use sanitiser before and after.
There shouldn’t be more than two households within the property at any one time, and viewings should only be arranged by appointment, so ‘open houses’ aren’t happening at the moment.
If you’re selling your home and are having interested buyers come around to have a look, open all the inside doors beforehand so they don’t have to touch the door handles.
It’s recommended that you’re not in the property during the viewing, and that you disinfect all surfaces after.
Offers through to completion
You’re free to make or accept an offer or reserve a property as normal.
But it’s possible that in some areas the conveyancing process will be slower than usual, as some solicitors and agents may be operating at limited capacity, or are very busy working through deals that have stacked up since earlier in the year.
If you are about to enter into a legally binding contract, you should discuss the possible implications of one of the parties being affected by having to self-isolate or quarantine. Ask your legal representative if they can include provisions to manage these risks in the contracts.
If someone in your household – or the other party’s – began to show any flu symptoms just as you’re about to complete, you’ll probably need to postpone things by a few weeks.
The government says we should all remain flexible in this sort of scenario, so it would be ideal if your contracts can reflect that.
Removal firms are able to carry out work, as long as all the usual procedures that ensure everyone’s safety are in place.
Try to do most of your packing yourself, if possible. And if you can, give your belongings a quick spray or wipe-down with a disinfectant before they’re handled by someone else.
When the removals’ team is around, do your best to maintain distance and wash your hands regularly.
We also recommend that you book your removals company as early as possible. In many areas they are very busy and if may be a challenge for you to find one available at a short notice.
There are more details within the guidance, but the government has said that the three most important rules, irrespective of what tier you’re in, continue to be:
- Wash your hands – with soap, regularly, and for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your face – especially when in an enclosed space with people you don’t usually meet with, and where socially distancing is difficult.
- Social distancing – stay two metres apart as much as possible.