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The housing market remains open for business but you still need to take precautions. Here’s how to move home safely as England enters stage two on the roadmap out of lockdown.
The government has updated its guidance on moving home as lockdown restrictions ease further in England.
The housing market remains open and people are able to both continue with planned moves and view properties.
But precautions still need to be taken and the government has warned it may become necessary to pause all home moves locally or nationally at some point to manage the spread of Covid-19.
Remember that you will be required to follow social distancing measures at all stages of the moving process.
If you have any symptoms of Covid-19 or test positive for the virus, you should immediately self-isolate at home for at least 10 days.
Here’s how to move safely under the latest guidelines.
Preparing to move home
You can put your home on the market and look for properties to buy or rent, but the process is likely to be different compared with pre-Covid-19 times.
Estate agents may require you to make an appointment ahead of time, rather than just walking into their offices. When visiting an estate agent’s office, you should also wear a suitable face covering.
Estate agents can visit your property to take photographs or videos, but when looking for a property yourself it is recommended that you carry out initial searches online.
As well as finding properties for sale and rent on blackstones, you can search new-build homes from leading developers.
Initial viewings should be done virtually wherever possible, and you should only visit in person if you are seriously considering making an offer on the property.
Viewing occupied homes should be done by appointment, and ‘open house’ viewings cannot take place.
If you are interested in a new-build home, you should contact the developer to make an appointment to view the show home or a particular plot you are interested in.
When viewing a property in-person, you should wear a face covering, avoid touching surfaces wherever possible, and wash your hands or use hand sanitiser regularly.
If you need to stay somewhere overnight in order to view properties, you can do so in self-contained accommodation, but you must only stay within your own household or support bubble.
If people are viewing your property, you should open all internal doors, ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned after each viewing, and allow access to handwashing facilities, ideally with separate towels or paper towels.
It is recommended that you wait outside the property while viewings are taking place.
Making offers or reservations
You can make or accept an offer, or reserve a property as normal, but you should be aware that there is a greater risk that home moves may need to be delayed if someone involved has Covid-19 symptoms, so contracts and agreements should be as flexible as possible.
You can visit a property again after having an offer accepted but you should follow the same measures as with an initial viewing.
Tradespeople can also visit the property to carry out inspections but only one person should visit the property at a time and social distancing and hand hygiene measures should be followed.
Property searches and surveys
Your legal representative should be able to carry out searches on your property online, while surveyors can also undertake surveys on it.
Where possible, inspections should take place by appointment only, with only one person visiting the property at a time, and social distancing measures should be followed.
If your home is being surveyed, make sure the surveyor has access to all parts of the property they need to inspect, so that you can minimise contact with them, such as by staying in another room.
Finalising your move
Once you have exchanged contracts or signed a tenancy agreement, you have entered into a legal agreement to purchase or rent a property.
Even so, you should be prepared to delay the move if necessary, such as if someone involved in the transaction develops Covid-19 symptoms.
Your legal advisor should help to ensure that any contract you enter into has sufficient flexibility to allow the purchase to be delayed if one of the parties develops Covid-19 or has to self-isolate.
Moving your belongings
Removal firms are able to carry on working and you should contact them as early as possible in advance of your moving date.
If removal firms are unavailable, another household can help you move but you must follow social distancing and hand hygiene measures where possible.
It is recommended that you and others in your household try to do as much of the packing yourself as you can, and that you clean your belongings where possible.
While removers are in your house, you should keep internal doors open and try to minimise contact with them, maintaining a distance of at least two metres where possible.
You should not provide refreshments but should give access to handwashing facilities with separate towels or paper towels.
All parties should wash their hands regularly or use hand sanitiser and avoid touching surfaces where possible.