England has recently lifted the government-mandated lockdown on the housing market, allowing it to reopen under strict instructions to observe social distancing in each stage of the property viewing process. This means that people can now return to buying, selling, and moving homes, which is truly something to look forward to amidst the pandemic.
However, there are some changes that homebuyers and movers must know before engaging in any processes. Most of the changes were instituted to minimise contact between buyers, sellers, and other involved parties to stem the spread of the virus.
Here are six things to know about returning to home buying in England after the lockdown:
Viewing a Property While Social Distancing
Prior to the lockdown, there was no need to worry about being able to properly view a property before deciding to purchase it. However, new protocols encourage virtual viewing of the property beforehand. This will allow those who are truly interested in progressing to the next stage to schedule an appointment to view the property in person.
When physically viewing the property, a few things must be kept in mind:
No more than two people may visit a property at a time in order to enforce social distancing.
As much as possible, the owner should not be at home to minimise any contact with the buyer.
All furniture with handles, such as cupboards, cabinets, and doors, must be left open so that buyers do not need to physically handle them.
All buyers must wear protective clothing while inside the property, such as the appropriate face mask, gloves, and shoe coverings to keep the property as clean as possible.
Viewings are now limited to fifteen minutes.
Agents will not be allowed to drive clients to viewings. They must also carry antibacterial wipes or sprays to clean surfaces that a buyer touches.
Selling Your Home and Organising a Visit Under New Protocols
Selling your home is now possible after the reopening of the housing market, but there are changes to keep in mind. You can list your home with your estate agent, but you will have to limit interaction as much as possible. If meeting in person is necessary, then be sure to practice social distancing at all times. You’ll have to remotely transmit as much information as needed to your estate agent before they pay a visit to your house.
Similarly to viewing a property, organising a visit includes many regulations that enforce social distancing. For example, the estate agent must be wearing protective gear like a mask and gloves, and the property should be empty of people as much as possible. The rules in viewing a property also apply when organising a visit, which should be kept in mind when discussing with the estate agent on how to safely conduct visits and viewings to your home.
To protect the buyers, if you or anyone in your household is self-isolating or has been displaying COVID-19 symptoms, physical visits should not be arranged until well after the sick person’s recovery. Virtual visits can be arranged, but any in-person interaction must be postponed until everyone is well and healthy.
Before organising a visit, make sure your property has been properly cleaned down before and after each viewing. Limit unnecessary actions and make sure all individuals in the viewing maintain a safe distance from each other.
Shopping Around for Mortgage
Now that the lockdown has been lifted, shopping for a mortgage is now possible. However, the options may not be as plentiful and varying as they were prior to the lockdown due to the state of the economy. If you aren’t in a hurry, you may want to consider getting a mortgage once things settle down. Not everyone can wait, though, so if you need to look for a mortgage now, be sure to shop around and consider all your options so that you can compare rates and choose the best one for you and your current financial situation.
If you were negatively impacted by the lockdown, such as getting laid off or having your pay slashed, this is likely to affect the mortgage offer and rates that you’ll receive. You’ll probably receive more expensive loans, so be sure to keep this in mind.
If you need help in closing a deal and transferring the legal title of your property to its new owner, consider reaching out to a conveyance solicitor. Many of them are currently working remotely and will be able to assist you even without meeting in person.
During this period, you can still work with a conveyancing solicitor to manage your property sale or purchase. However, be warned that there may be a delay with searches, as The Land Registry has been backlogged with processing registration applications. This shouldn’t have too significant of an impact on the conveyancing process, though, as this can be done online.
The only time you’ll have to meet in person is when you’ll be signing documents that necessitate the presence of a witness. During these instances, make sure to continue observing social distancing guidelines and wear protective clothing.
Getting a Survey
Properties can not be visited by surveyors for surveys and valuations once more. Just like the previous processes mentioned, all surveyors must abide by social distancing guidelines and take all possible precautions when visiting homes.
Similar to the home visit guidelines, the owner of the property must not be in the house when a surveyor is inside. If there is no outside space to wait in, then the owner must be in a different room.
To minimise the risk of infection, discuss with the surveyor about what they’ll need to see or access during their visit. This will allow you to prep your house accordingly so that the surveyor won’t have to touch anything, be it a door handle or garden gate.
Availing of a Removal Firm
Removal firms are also accessible now that the lockdown period has been lifted. As they’re the last step in the moving process, they’re concerned with transferring items between properties. However, this may cause some concerns, as it can be difficult to limit contact and maintain social distancing.
Thankfully, there are ways to minimise contact and keep everyone safe:
Pack all possible items yourself, as this will minimise the items that the removal firm will handle.
Inform the firm in advance about the items you have and which ones require disassembly and assembly.
Wear protective clothing when the removals team arrives.
Keep a wide berth of the removals team when they begin to work to abide by social distancing protocols.
Whether you’re buying a new property or moving into one, these new developments in the property moving process are important to keep in mind. You’ll be able to prepare adequately for your big move while adhering to the new protocols. You may also want to hire a cleaning company to thoroughly clean and decontaminate the property you are selling or moving into. While things may take a little longer during this period, you’ll be able to safely move through the home buying process in England.
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