What new COVID restrictions mean for your property purchase or remortgage

What new COVID restrictions mean for your property purchase or remortgage
What new COVID restrictions mean for your property purchase or remortgage

The information provided below is correct as at 28/10/2020.

The government has announced a three-tier system of restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, leaving many home-movers and homeowners wondering how the new rules will affect their plans.

Although house moves can go ahead even for those living in areas in the highest risk tier, there are likely to be delays due to the increased restrictions.

If you’re buying as part of a chain, remember that while you might be in a lower tier, other members of the chain may not, which can also have an impact on your move.

Here, we explain how the new tier system works and how to plan your move while following the guidelines.

What is the COVID-19 tier system?

Under the new tier system, each region in England has been placed in one of three different tiers. Those in tier 3 are considered the highest risk areas, with those in tier 2 deemed high risk and those in tier 1 medium risk.

You can keep up to date with Government guidance on moving home in England here.

Tier 3 – very high risk
• No mixing of households allowed inside or outside in private gardens or hospitality venues
• Rule of six applies when meeting in public outdoor spaces
• Moving in and out of the area you’re in should be avoided
• Bars and pubs which serve alcohol but don’t serve meals must close


What being in a tier 3 area means for your move or mortgage application

You can still move home if you live in a tier 3 area and your mortgage application can continue but will be subject to delays due to the enhanced restrictions.

According to government guidance, estate agents and removals firms can continue to work. Property viewings are allowed, but should be conducted virtually where possible. Home-movers and anyone helping with the move must follow national guidance on staying COVID-secure including remaining socially distant and wearing a face mask.

Surveyors are allowed to access your property but should wear a face covering and have minimal contact with you during the visit.

Tier 2 – high risk
• Households cannot mix indoors
• Rule of six applies to different households meeting outside
• Pubs and restaurants must close at 10pm


What being in a tier 2 area means for your move or mortgage application

Government guidance states that estate agents and removal firms can continue to work in tier 2 areas, so your move can still go ahead, providing you follow national guidance on moving safely which can be found here.

For example, you must stay two metres apart from the estate agent or prospective buyer or seller, and wear a mask when visiting a property.

Surveyors are allowed to access your property but should wear a face covering and have minimal contact with you during the visit.

Tier 1 – medium risk
• Rule of six applies when meeting indoors and outdoors
• Pubs and restaurants must close at 10pm

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What being in a tier 1 area means for your move or mortgage application

If you live in a tier 1 area, property viewings are still allowed, as long as there are no more than six people in the property and social distancing measures are adhered to. Viewings should not involve more than two households being inside the property at any one time, including the estate agent.

Valuations and surveys can go ahead, but surveyors should wear a face covering and have minimal contact with you during the visit.

Rules in Northern Ireland

Additional measures were introduced on 16th October 2020 and will be in place for 4 weeks

• Households cannot mix indoors
• Up to six people from no more than two households can mix outdoors in a private garden
• Workers, builders and tradespeople can continue to go into people’s homes to work

What the rules mean for your move or mortgage application

If you live in Northern Ireland and are moving home, you can still proceed with your plans, as house moves are exempt from the meeting indoors rules. That means prospective buyers can still view properties in person and arrange for a valuation or survey to take place.

You can find out more about the current restrictions in Northern Ireland here.

Rules in Wales

A fire-break lockdown of 17 days was introduced on 23rd October 2020 and will end on Monday 9th November 2020.

The rules for this are:
• People must stay at home except for very limited purposes
• Households cannot mix indoors or outdoors
• All non-essential businesses will be closed

What the rules mean for your move or mortgage application

If you can’t delay the moving date until after the lockdown ends you can still move home during this period, as long as you follow strict COVID-secure guidelines.

Property viewings are not permitted during this time and high street estate agents will be closed. Virtual viewings can continue.

Surveyors can enter homes as long as it is managed in a safe way and guidelines are followed. Desktop and street level surveys can continue.

You can find out more about the current restrictions in Wales here.

Rules in Scotland

Additional measures were introduced on 9th October 2020 until 26th October 2020
A new 5-tier system of restrictions will come into force on 2nd November

• Although hotel bars can remain open for residents, all other licensed premises are now closed. Takeaways are still permitted.
• Cafes can stay open until 6pm, but cannot serve alcohol
• People are advised not to leave their local area and should avoid public transport

What the rules mean for your move or mortgage application

Professionals such as estate agents and surveyors who need to enter people’s homes for a move to proceed can continue to do so. However, prospective buyers are strongly advised to conduct virtual viewings rather than visiting properties in person. The Scottish government has advised that the moving process is likely to take longer as removal companies must adapt their processes to protect the health of their staff and home movers.
You can find out more about the current restrictions and the new 5-tier system in Scotland here.

Can I still remortgage?

The mortgage market remains open for both new and existing customers, so you can still go ahead and submit your remortgage application. Many of the people involved in the mortgage process, including your mortgage lender and conveyancers are working from home but the entire industry is subject to delays as a result of the ongoing restrictions.

Your lender will still require a valuation, and while in many cases these valuations can be automated, some will require a physical valuation from a surveyor. In this situation your application could be affected in the same ways described above.






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