You would be forgiven if the latest set of lockdown rules brought in by the UK government brings you more confusion. The raft of changes seems to be never ending, and keeping on top of the latest changes feels like a never ending task. But there is good news for house hunters… you can still move house in lockdown.
If you’re in quarantine, or are self-isolating, then you should stay put, for now at least. From our side, it’s important to keep your conveyancer up to date. Alert them to any problems that could arise on moving day as soon as possible.
The last thing we want anyone to do is go ahead with a move when you should be isolated from others. If we know you are going to be isolating, we can arrange your completion for an alternative date, and we would hope that other buyers and sellers would be understanding. Even the governments’ advice encourages “all parties to be flexible and be prepared to delay moves.” We think that is sound advice.
Finding a New Home
The search for a new home has evolved. Conveyancers, Estate Agents and other professionals have all adapted their services to keep themselves and their clients’ safe, and to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
You might find that an Estate Agent will offer a ‘virtual viewing’. A virtual viewing could be a time saver if you’re wanting to check out a few properties. You’ll be able to shortlist those that you want to see in person.
When it comes to viewing in person, the Estate Agent may be able to arrange for the property to be vacant when you go to see it. If not, you should limit the number of people at the property at the same time. There shouldn’t be more than two households in the property at once. You should ensure that you arrange your visit with the Estate Agent rather than just turning up. Open house viewings won’t be able to go ahead at the moment.
You should also wear a face covering and ensure that you wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before and after your visit too. It is best to try avoid touching anything too. If you are selling, it’s a good idea to leave doors open for potential buyers to limit touch points.
The legal process remains largely unchanged. We’re seeing a much higher than normal demand at the moment, so some parts of the process may take a little longer than normal. Some councils are reporting long delays when we order our local authority searches, but we will deal with everything the best we can to help you move house in lockdown.
We have to be sure that we cover everything we need to in the legal process. It is understandable that buying or selling your home is a stressful process, but we can’t shortcut the process.
Our main change is that we’re preferring not to have visitors in our offices. We’re sorry we can’t invite you in for a chat and a cuppa.
Stamp Duty Holiday Deadline
The Stamp Duty Holiday deadline of 31st March 2021 is giving us a cause for concern. We know it seems a distant date, but for those involved in the conveyancing process, it’s a deadline that is looming fast.
A typical property sale or purchase can take around 8 to 12 weeks. Unfortunately delays in the process out of our control (obtaining searches for instance) can soon put a spanner in the works. We’re reasonably confident that any purchases that we’re instructed on up until the 18th December 2020 will be completed in time for the deadline, save for any delays that are not in our control. After that, we feel it is unlikely. We just don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up.
We will obviously do our absolute best, but after all, we’re only human… not magicians unfortunately.
When it comes to moving day, it’s advisable to have as much as you can packed and ready for the removal firm. Removal firms can continue to work. As long as everyone continues to keep a safe distance and the right protections are in place you will be able to move house in lockdown successfully.
While the removal team is moving your belongings around, it is best to give them plenty of space. Make sure everything is labelled so they can easily pop it in the right place when you get to your new home.
If for whatever reason you can’t move into your new home on the same day you move out of your old house, you can use a hotel, under any tier. You should check in advance if your preferred hotel will be open as not all hoteliers will be staying open for instances such as this.
The full guidance from the government is updated here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.
You should ensure that you wash your hands, cover your face and give each other space.
Stay safe, and be kind.