Buying and selling a home during coronavirus
Are you looking to move home but want to know how coronavirus has changed the home buying and selling process? Here is the latest advice to be aware of, plus details of possible delays you could face, house price activity and how to negotiate.
Post updated: April 27th, 2021
Post updated: April 27th, 2021
Can I move house now?
Yes, you can move home in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Estate agents are now open, viewings are taking place in a socially distanced manner and conveyancers are busy processing transactions.
What, even if I live in an area in lockdown?
Yes. For more information on this, look at our latest advice on Can I move during a local lockdown?
Is it a good idea to move now?
With the experience of lockdown and more time than ever spent at home, many people have re-evaluated their housing needs and are making the choice to move.
There is also reduced stamp duty in place until the end of June with tapering until October. Stamp duty cuts, alongside an increased demand for certain homes post-lockdown, has resulted in rising house prices.
With demand outstripping supply, it’s definitely a “sellers market” as newly listed homes are being snapped up. This puts sellers in a strong position to negotiate and pick from the best buyers who are able to move quickly.
Our House Price Watch report indicates that the average rate of annual house price growth is 6.9%, the highest rate in 5 years.
What about the stamp duty holiday?
The Chancellor announced a stamp duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland lasting until June 2021. In England and Northern Ireland, until the end of June, you don’t have to pay any stamp duty if you are purchasing a property worth less than £500,000, unless it is a second home. Then, from 1st July 2021 until 30th September 2021, the rules will change so that no stamp duty will be paid on the first £250,000 of the property’s value, before returning to £125,000 on 1st October 2021.
This will save buyers as much as £15,000, if they are buying a property of £500,000 or more.
You can find full details on stamp duty rates in our guide or use the calculator below to see how much you could save.
Stamp Duty Calculator for England & NI, Scotland and Wales
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Selling a house during coronavirus
If you’re selling, when it comes to appointing your estate agent, give them a call to speak to them. Whilst estate agents are open, some require you to book an appointment in advance.
If you’re not sure where to start, you can find your nearest and best performing estate agents using our comparison tool below.
Find and Compare Local Estate AgentsThis form will take you to www.estateagent4me.co.uk for the results
Viewing a house during coronavirus
Home viewings are permitted, but following government advice that states:
- Initial viewings should be done virtually
- There should be no more than 2 households inside the property at any one time. This includes the estate agent. Anyone in a support bubble with another household, however, will count as part of that household.
- Viewings in person need to be arranged by appointment only
- When physically viewing properties, where possible, you should maintain a 2 meter distance where possible, avoid touching surfaces, wash your hands regularly, and bring your own hand sanitiser
- If people are being shown around your current home, you should open all internal doors and ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned after each viewing with standard household cleaning products
- Estate agents and potential buyers/tenants on viewings are advised to wear face masks
How do I make an offer on a house I want to buy during coronavirus?
Government guidance states you are free to make or accept an offer or reserve a property as normal. But:
- Be aware that there can be a greater risk that parties may need to delay because someone is showing symptoms of coronavirus or self-isolating. Where needed your legal adviser should advise you and help make sure that any contracts or agreements are as flexible as possible to accommodate this risk.
- Prospective purchasers may wish to visit a property again once they have agreed a sale, for example to measure up. Where this has been agreed to, the above advice on prioritising virtual visits, hygiene measures, maintaining social distancing at all times and mitigating contact where possible should be followed.
- Purchasers may also want to send in tradespeople to carry out inspections. Where possible these should be scheduled with one person visiting the property at any time. Where a tradesperson is visiting the property, the occupier should maintain social distancing, wash their hands regularly and minimise contact as far as possible, for example by staying in another room.
Should I negotiate?
Yes. You should always assume that the price a property is marketed at is up for negotiation and haggle over the asking price. But be aware that, as mentioned above, we are in a sellers market. Following lockdown, people have re-evaluated their priorities and demand for the “best in class” properties, particularly those with a garden, office space and great wifi, has shot up.
Be prepared for delays
When it comes to buying and selling homes, we aren’t quite back to normal.
The government is calling on “all parties involved to be as flexible as possible over this period and be prepared to delay moves, for example if someone becomes ill with coronavirus during the moving process or has to self-isolate.”
Many property professionals, from mortgage brokers to surveyors, are also experiencing delays due to high demand for their services at a time when staff are working from home or just beginning to return to the office.
How to avoid delays when buying and selling a home during coronavirus
- Instruct a conveyancing solicitor as soon as you list your home or as your offer is accepted. You can compare quotes now from conveyancing solicitors and speak to them about the process and costs so you’re ready to instruct them.
- Get your paperwork in order. If you’re selling a leasehold, find the lease. Locate certificates showing compliance with regulations of any works done. Don’t forget valid guarantees a home buyer will want to see. See what documents you’ll need.
- Sorting your mortgage. Many lenders and brokers are experiencing COVID related delays and mortgage choices have significantly reduced, especially for first time buyers. Avoid wasting time later down the line and start the process now.
- If you are buying, speak to your conveyancer asap to find out how long local searches will take as some local authorities are currently experiencing long delays. You should also discuss adding a COVID-clause to your contract so you are protected in the event someone in the chain falls ill and the move is delayed. Read more about this in our guide to exchanging contracts
- Book your building surveyor as soon as your offer is accepted. You can find and get quotes from local building surveyors and discuss their availability today
Can I use removals firms during coronavirus
Yes. You will want to get quotes from removals firms as early as possible in your home moving process to discuss availability.
The government also advise that you should:
- Do as much of the packing yourself, where possible
- Clean your belongings, with standard domestic cleaning products before they are handled by the removals firm
- Leave internal doors open and seek to minimise your contact with the crew, maintaining 2 metres distance where possible.
- Do not provide refreshments
You may want to speak to a cleaning firm for your home, or the house you are moving into. A deep clean of your onward home once it has been vacated might help put you at ease. To find a cleaner near you, simply type “cleaning services” in the tool below.