Thousands of homebuyers who had to put their moves on hold when the country went into lockdown at the end of March can now proceed with their plans
Anyone in England is now free to move home, as long as they follow new guidance laid down by the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick. Developers will also be able to progress with building homes, thanks to the series of measures introduced to unlock the housing market.
The process of finding a new home and moving will be very different however, with new procedures introduced to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Here’s what you need to know.
Estate agents’ offices are now open and viewings are allowed, although initially they should be done virtually wherever possible. If a property can only be viewed physically, viewings must be limited to members of the same household only.
When viewing a property, prospective buyers must take care not to touch any surfaces, wash their hands regularly and bring their own hand sanitiser. Where possible, homeowners should not be present when viewings are taking place so they can minimise contact with people who are not in their household.
Show homes can also re-open, but social distancing guidelines must be followed when viewing them. There will be appointment systems in place as no open house viewings should take place.
Developers can continue with building work, provided it is safe to do so and social distancing guidance can be followed by construction workers. They will also be able to agree more flexible working times with their local councils so that start times can be staggered, helping to relieve pressure on public transport and making it safer for builders who rely on it.
Lockdown measures mean that many physical valuations have had to be put on hold in recent weeks, which led to many lenders having to temporarily limit the range of mortgages they offer.
Surveyors can now enter properties, although they are advised not to enter any property where a member of the household is self-isolating or showing symptoms of coronavirus. Surveyors must make sure they remain socially distanced from homeowners, who should ideally stay in a different room while their home is being inspected. Homeowners can expect surveyors to detail how best to prepare for a safe inspection when the appointment is booked.
Removal companies can operate, but wherever possible home movers should clean and pack their possessions themselves. The crew must maintain a two-metre distance from whoever they are moving, and refreshments should not be served to them to help reduce the risk of transmitting the virus
What happens next
These measures should all help get the property market moving again, with many estate agents already reporting a surge in interest from buyers and sellers.
Mortgage lenders have already started to re-introduce some of the higher Loan to Value (LTV) products they removed when lockdown was first announced
It’s important to remember, however, that it will take time for all these measures to become the ‘new normal’ and for lenders to work through the backlog of mortgage applications which have had to be put on hold in recent weeks.
If you need any advice or support either choosing or applying for a mortgage, we’re here to help. Our service is completely free, so get in touch or use our mortgage finder tool to see which mortgage options are available to you.
Property market re-opens for business