Homes is open for business throughout 2nd lockdown

When the Government announced a second lockdown from the 5th November to be reviewed on the 2nd December 2020, initially there was uncertainty about whether estate agents could continue to do business.

We thought a brief point of reference would be helpful to Homes clients – vendors & buyers, landlords & tenants – to explain how the housing market is allowed to operate during this period.

Yes, it’s official ... you can still move home!
The following summary is advice provided by the Government.

Robert Jenrick, Housing Secretary announced: “People house hunting can still go to view properties, show homes and sales suites can remain open and all surveys and mortgage valuations can continue.”

In England, all estate agents, letting agents, property professionals such as surveyors, mortgage valuers, and removal companies can continue to operate during this lockdown, whilst following the required national safety guidelines, including face coverings and social distancing.

Estate agents are open for business for Sales & Lettings

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 house;
  • visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or
  • sale of that property

You can go in person to a property viewing

  • Try to do a virtual viewing or tour first to reduce the risk of spreading germs
  • 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 up to two households viewing inside a property at one time
  • It’s 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, we are operating a quick digital temperature check on all applicants immediately before viewings take place. It’s 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.

You can put 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 together 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.
  • If you’re planning to buy a new-build property, you should contact the developer. You should be able to make an appointment to view the show home or visit the particular plot you are interested in purchasing.

Conveyancing could take longer but keep calm

When it comes to managing and streamlining the legal process, Homes 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 first lockdown 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!

Please get in touch so we can explain the most effective plan for your sale and purchase.

  • 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 someone in your household – or any of the other parties – begins to show any Covid-like symptoms just as you’re about to complete, you’ll need to postpone things by a few weeks.

Rules for removals

  • 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 unless absolutely necessary.
  • 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 hand regularly.
  • Ensure you sanitise bathrooms after use and provide paper towels after handwashing

Tradespeople and renovation work at home can continue

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, light switches and your kettle