The government changed lockdown measures to allow moving house and viewing properties in England as long as social distancing measures are followed. There is specific guidance and practices that need to be followed to ensure selling or buying a property can be done safely.
The official government guidance advises those looking at buying a property should initially start their property search online and undertake a virtual viewing to begin with if it’s possible. Then, only book a physical viewing if you’re serious about putting in an offer on a property.
Social distancing measures to follow when viewing a property
While viewing a property, social distancing measures need to be adhered to at all times. Wash your hands regularly and bring your own hand sanitiser to use. Avoid touching any surfaces as well.
After entering a property, all parties present should immediately wash their hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser if that’s not available. Stay two metres apart from anyone outside of your household wherever possible.
To physically view a property, appointment systems will be in place to ensure appointments don’t overlap. Additionally, the number of people viewing a property should be kept to a minimum. The government specifically states that only “those from your household that absolutely have to be there” should attend a viewing with you.
The benefits of viewing new build properties
With social distancing measures in place, new builds are especially easy to view because they’re empty properties. This means you don’t have to worry about sellers being in the property while you view it or if they have wiped down all the surfaces and door handles.
Property developers are required to clean surfaces between each viewing, along with other measures to ensure you can view developments and properties as safely as possible. Additionally, if the property you are interested in has already been built out, there are no waiting periods, so you can get through the homebuying process much quicker.
Where possible, virtual viewings should be considered initially. Physical viewings should only be undergone if the buyer is seriously considering putting an offer in on the property. When it comes to buying a property new, you can usually view a show home or the particular plot you’re interested in buying, but open houses are not currently allowed.
Mortgage market and valuations back in action
The mortgage market has started back up again, having gone through a brief pause during the lockdown. Physical mortgage valuations on properties being purchased are also able to be carried out under social distancing measures.
Many banks and lenders had put physical mortgage valuations on hold during the lockdown and relied on remote valuations. However, for some loan applications, lenders weren’t able to value properties appropriately remotely, so some had been waiting for lockdown measures to be eased in order to proceed with getting a mortgage for buying a property.
With physical property valuations restarting, the mortgage application process is starting up again. And as the housing market is back moving, the government guidance is ensuring safety is a top priority while helping build confidence back in the sector, making it a great time to start looking at buying a property again.
Moving home with social distancing measures
Keep in mind that anyone who is self-isolating or has tested positive for coronavirus should not leave their home, so they can’t move or view any properties during that time. Throughout the buying process, it’s important that all parties are flexible as there could be delays due to someone becoming ill with coronavirus or having to self-isolate during the moving process. New completion dates may need to be agreed if this happens.
Homebuyers may wish for tradespeople to carry out inspections, and there are no restrictions on what types of surveys can be carried out. These should be scheduled with only one person visiting the property at a time and social distancing measures should always be followed.
Removal firms are also able to operate. The government asks people moving to do as much of the packing as you can yourself. Additionally, clean your belongings before they are handled by others wherever possible. Minimise contact with the removers, ensure all internal doors are open and maintain at least two metres.