PROPERTY VIEWINGS AND MOVES IN LIGHT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)
People who are in the process of selling their house and moving to a new home as the UK continues to tackle the transmission of Coronavirus, are left asking ‘What now?’’
First things first, it is essential to stay abreast of current Government and official advice. It is vital that everyone observes the measures that are in place to limit the spread of the virus.
Under current guidance, people who wish to move home can do so as long as all safety measures are carried out. Estate agents can visit your home in order to take photos and videos, prospective buyers are able to view your property and removals companies are able to facilitate home moves.
However, the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved is the most important issue, and although there is now more freedom to move home, public health and Government guidance should always come first. In all instances it is important to adhere to social distancing measures and any physical appointments should be postponed immediately if anyone is self-isolating or showing symptoms of coronavirus.
Adapting existing arrangements
All parties are encouraged to adapt and be flexible, altering their usual practices, agreeing alternative dates to move if necessary.
The guidance states that anyone with symptoms, self-isolating, or shielding from the virus should follow medical advice which will mean not moving for the time being, if at all possible.
Clinically vulnerable and shielded individuals must carefully consider their personal situation and may wish to seek medical advice before decided whether to move. It is important to take a patient approach if you are in a chain with someone who is vulnerable, allowing them time to safely conduct a move.
Much of the anxiety around house moves comes from the contractual terms and Government has tried to ease this pressure through:
- Laying down sector specific guidelines;
- Asking banks and building societies to extend the period prior to the expiry of a mortgage offer;
- Working with conveyancers to develop a standard legal process for delaying moving completion dates.
You can put your home on the market and start to look for properties you want to move to. Agents can list new properties and are able to visit your property to take photos and videos while fully adhering to public health guidance. If any member of the household is showing symptoms or self-isolating then estate agents should not physically visit the property.
Government guidance for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland allows for physically distanced viewings that carefully adhere to public health guidance. It is vital that safety comes first, with the guidance reflecting that with several measures that need to be followed to conduct viewings safely:
- Viewings must only take place with serious buyers who are genuinely interested in the property.
- Initial viewings should be done online as virtual viewings.
- When conducting physical viewings, they should be done by appointment only and open houses are not permitted.
- If your home is being viewed, open all windows and doors prior to the viewing taking place and if possible, leave the property for the duration of the viewing.
- Everyone involved must wash their hands prior to the viewing and handwashing facilities should be made available with separate paper towels if possible.
- We will look to restrict the number of people present at the viewing in order to follow social distancing guidelines.
- Once the viewing has finished, the homeowner should ensure surfaces such as door handles are cleaned.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Before the viewing, your estate agent will confirm with you in writing that you have appropriate protective equipment. If you do not confirm prior to the viewing, your estate agent may cancel the appointment. We are working to best practice guidance which outlines the equipment all parties involved should use during viewings, including gloves and face coverings.
This guidance is designed to protect everyone involved with property viewings. It is important that you work with your estate agent and use the appropriate PPE to ensure everyone’s safety.
You can find the full Government guidance on property viewings here.
Offers continue to be made and accepted on properties, many of which were already on the market and conveyancers are carrying out desk-based valuations and searches using local authority online systems wherever possible.
Prospective buyers who have agreed a sale may wish to visit a property again now restrictions have been lifted. They are now able to do so as long as they follow the same advice for viewings, for example, virtual viewings in the first instance, viewings by appointment only, maintaining social distancing, and following all hygiene guidance.
Purchasers can also now arrange for a tradesperson to carry out inspections. This should again be carried out by appoint and only one person at a time where possible. No tradespeople should enter a property where a member of the household is showing signs of coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating.