6th January 2021
With the new national lockdown in England now announced and effective from 4th January 2021, there are some fundamental differences in the restrictions affecting the housing and property market, from the first lockdown back in March 2020.
Most notably, this time the housing market is recognised as an essential element of our everyday lives and, as such, will remain largely open for business.
An extract from the updated Government guidelines, as published on 4th January 2021, states –
Therefore, in England, all estate agents, letting agents plus property professionals such as solicitors, surveyors, mortgage valuers, and removal companies can continue to operate during this lockdown. Clearly, it is extremely important that all parties follow the required national safety guidelines and take all necessary precautions to minimise the risks, including wearing face coverings and social distancing.
We have provided the following links below to the latest Government Guidance, as well as their advice on Moving Home Safely, as referred to in the extract above.
Here’s a summary of the key points, we’re being asked by some of our customers who are maybe unsure of the current ‘do and don’ts’:
Leaving your home for property matters
People can leave their home to undertake any of the following activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property:
- visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes
- viewing residential properties to look for a property to buy or to rent
- preparing a residential property to move in
- moving home
- visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property
- Try to do a virtual viewing or tour first to reduce the risk of spreading the virus
- Viewing virtually saves you time, as you may rule out a property seeing it on a virtual tour
- 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.
- No open house viewings at present – only viewings by appointment
- Only members from the same single household may view inside a property at any one time
- It is not recommended for vendors to be in their property during viewings. Open all internal doors in advance so buyers do not need to touch handles and disinfect surfaces after all viewings
- Please note that, in additional to the Government guidance on safety measures, Homes Estate Agents are operating a quick digital temperature check on all applicants immediately before viewings take place. It is a very easy process which simply involves placing a digital thermometer on an applicant’s forehead and taking an instant reading. We also record all our team members’ temperatures at the beginning of each day, which hopefully gives our customers extra peace of mind.
Putting your home on the market
- You can put your home on the market and look for properties to buy or rent. However, if you or any member of your household is showing symptoms of coronavirus or is self-isolating, then estate agents and potential buyers should not visit your property in person.
- Everyone should follow the latest guidance for households with confirmed or possible coronavirus infection.
- Estate agents can still visit to take photos of your property. You should also start to gather the necessary documents to sell your home.
- To help prevent the spread of infection, the government recommends that you carry out initial property searches online, and only visit a property in person when you are seriously considering making an offer on it.
When it comes to managing and streamlining the legal process, Homes Estate Agents is using its dedicated and experienced Sales Progression Team to keep on top of communications with clients and solicitors.
We have learned many lessons from the lockdown periods and can advise you on how you can mitigate delays prior to exchange of contracts and how to progress to a smooth completion.
If you are midway through a property transaction, it is possible that some aspects of the conveyancing process will take a little longer because of lockdown. Just be patient and all should work out!
Useful tips for your sale, purchase or letting
- If you’re 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.
- The government says we should all remain flexible in this sort of scenario, so it would be ideal if your contracts can reflect that.
- Ask your legal representative if they can include provisions to manage these risks in the contracts.
- If anyone in your household, has tested positively for Covid 19 within 7 days or is displaying any Covid-like symptoms just as you’re about to complete your move, you’ll need to inform all parties involved and possibly postpone arrangements.
- Early booking of a removals firm is recommended as demand is high in all areas
- When moving, anyone outside your support bubble should not help with your house move.
- Advice recommends doing as much of your own packing if possible
- Ideally sanitise your belongings and items prior to anyone else handling them
- When removals staff enter your home try to maintain social distancing and wash hands regularly.
- Ensure you sanitise bathrooms after use and provide paper towels after handwashing
Tradespeople and renovation work at home
The current rules do allow tradespeople to carry out work in your home, as long as they have no coronavirus symptoms and are following all the necessary safety guidance.
It’s worthwhile making sure you’ve covered all bases to ensure you keep yourself, anyone else in your household, and the people carrying out the works, safe. For example, ahead of the work starting you should ask:
- Does anyone involved have symptoms of the virus?
- Is there anyone with underlying health conditions in the property?
- Are there any sick or elderly people living there who could be affected?
- Could anyone entering the property impact on the health of anyone living in it?
- Will anyone visiting, such as a surveyor or tradesperson, be affected by working in my home?
- Will all the people working in the home be wearing the correct PPE (personal protective equipment)?
- Tradespeople should not go to homes of anyone who is self-isolating or at risk from the virus.
- If the work you are having done is not urgent, you may want to reschedule it for a more convenient time.
- Depending on the issue you have, you may even find that an electrician, plumber or gas engineer may be able to help solve your problem remotely – maybe via Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangouts.
- Construction sites can and should continue
- Tradespeople will be able to enter homes
- All parties must follow the Covid safety guidance
- If anyone in your household is self-isolating or is showing Covid-like symptoms, then tradespeople should not be allowed to enter the home.
- To help ensure that all parties remain as safe as possible during any renovation or building work, you should:
- Keep your distance from any visitors and avoid physical contact
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitiser
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home such as door handles, work surfaces, light switches etc.