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Can I view, buy, sell and move house with Coronavirus restrictions in 2021?

As the UK moves into the next phase of unlocking, what Coronavirus restrictions remain in place for your house sale, purchase or move?

Post updated: May 17th, 2022

5 minute read

move house during lockdown

As the UK begins to the next phase of unlocking but with restrictions still in place, we look at what this means for moving house.

Can I still move house?

Yes, you can still buy, sell and move home. The sales and rental markets remain open.

Estate and letting agents, new build developers, conveyancing firms, surveyors, removals firms and tradespeople can continue to work.

People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless necessary.

If you are looking to move, you can view properties (by appointment only).

You can stay overnight to carry out viewings or to move house but restrictions remain depending on where you stay.

All parties must follow the national guidance on moving home safely, which includes social distancing, wearing a face covering, washing hands regularly and letting fresh air in.

Can I view a property during the coronavirus restrictions?

Yes. But see below for guidance on how viewings should be conducted.

Can I visit other areas to view a property or move house

Yes.

In fact, if you need to leave home and travel into a different area in order to carry out an activity involved in buying, selling, moving or renting, that activity can continue.

So for example, you can visit a home you are buying for a second viewing, for you or a surveyor to investigate a particular issue further and to collect the keys to your new home.

Can I stay overnight?

Yes. you can stay overnight to carry out house purchase and house moving activity:

The government guidance specifically states:

  • Hotels, hostels and other such public accommodation can be used by people while moving home in groups of up to 6 or two households.
  • Second homes and other private accommodation can be used by people while moving home or who are unable to return to their main residence. You must still ensure you stay only within your household and/or support bubble.

Can a friend/relative help me move?

Removals firms are able to work but if you are unable to get a removal firm to assist you, another household can help you move your belongings. In this case, social distancing and hygiene measures should be followed where possible.

Can I list my home for sale at the moment?

Yes. When it comes to appointing your estate agent, give them a call to speak to them.

Estate agency offices can remain open to the public but you may be asked to book an appointment and to wear a face covering when visiting their office.

You can market your home and estate agents can visit in order to take photos/videos of your property.

Find and Compare Local Estate Agents

This form will take you to ea4me.hoa.org.uk for the results

What about COVID restrictions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

Yes, in all countries you are permitted to move house if you can’t delay your move to when restrictions are lifted.

In England, you should follow the national guidance on moving home safely, which includes advice on social distancing and wearing a face covering.

Scotland’s guidance is similar, as is Northern Ireland’s advice.

What changes apply when moving home with coronavirus restrictions?

You can expect the following to apply as part of the “new normal” for moving home at the moment:

1. More is being done online

The process of searching for and moving into a new home is different because property agents, conveyancers and other professionals have modified how they work to reduce the risk from COVID-19.

These changes include doing more online, such as offering virtual viewings. While these are a good initial filter of a property you want to buy, you will want to visit it in person before parting with your hard earned cash.

If you are selling, then online estate agents offer an affordable and, as the name suggests, online service. Take a look at our online estate agent comparison table which compares all the main providers, from PurpleBricks to YOPA so you can choose the right package and price for your house sale.

2. Viewings rules

With physical viewings, the government advise that:

  • there should be no more than 6 people from any number of households inside the property at any one time (children of all ages count towards the limit of 6). This includes any agent accompanying either party.
  • Viewings in person need to be arranged by appointment only and no open house viewings, with multiple unlinked households in attendance at the same time, should take place.
  • When viewing in person, potential buyers/ tenants and estate agents should wear face masks, keep a social distance, wash their hands and avoid touching surfaces.
  • Homeowners should keep internal doors open and clean surfaces and door handles with standard household cleaning products afterwards and allow access to handwashing facilities with disposable towels.
  • Homeowners are encouraged to vacate the property whilst viewings are taking place to minimise contact.

3. Expect delays and be flexible

If someone in your chain has symptoms of COVID you could have to wait while they self isolate which could add delays to your home move.

Your conveyancer will be able to make sure that any contracts or agreements are as flexible as possible to accommodate this risk.

In particular, you will want to protect yourself against the likelihood of a sudden change in circumstances which could undermine your sale and/or purchase, and expose you to unexpected costs.

A “Covid Clause” within the contract offers parties the ability to exchange contracts while ensuring you are not at fault and in breach of contract, with all of the associated costs, if you are unable to complete because of a coronavirus related issue. Speak to a conveyancing solicitor for advice.

The 3 most important ways to minimise delays are:

  1. Instructing 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.
  2. Getting your paperwork in order. If it’s leasehold, find the lease. Locate certificates showing compliance with regulations of any works done from planning permissions to FENSA certificates for window replacements. Don’t forget valid guarantees a home buyer will want to see. See what documents you’ll need.
  3. 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 mortgage process now.

4. Packing and moving

The government advise you do as much of the packing yourself. If you are using a removals firm or someone outside your household is helping you, then these additional rules apply:

  • clean your belongings where possible before being handled
  • leave doors open
  • do not provide refreshments
  • use separate towels or paper towels for hand washing where possible

If you need help with your move, find a local removals firm and get removals quotes now.

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.

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Can a tradesperson still come into my house?

Yes – tradespeople like electricians, plumbers, repairers of domestic appliances can enter your home. They will need to follow social distancing guidance. You can find local rated tradespeople with our partner Checkatrade.

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How have Coronavirus restrictions impacted on your house move plans? Tell us in the comments below

 

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