The housing market restarts, but what are the safety rules for home viewings?

As the housing market resumes across England, we take stock of what the new safety rules are, as well as the right of both buyers and sellers

Housing market
(Image credit: Getty)

The housing market is out of lockdown and home viewings are now permitted. It won't be quite business as usual however, with a number of rules and procedures put in place to maximise the safety of everyone involved – buyers, sellers and estate agents. 

So, before you begin preparing to put in an offer and apply for a mortgage on a house you like, find out what you'll need to do to be able to view it, and how viewings will work. 

Can I view any property I like?

Theoretically, yes, but only if you are serious about putting in an offer on it. Estate agents are likely to offer virtual viewings in the first instance, only allowing physical viewings to people who are serious potential buyers. So, only push for a physical viewing if you really want that particular house.

Who is allowed to go to a viewing?

Estate agents will seek to minimise the number of people who attend viewings to a maximum of two people from the same household, so if you're a family, you will have to leave the kids at home. This will likely apply to renters, so if you are renting with multiple other people, you will need to decide amongst themselves who will do the physical viewing.

Do I have to go to a viewing with an estate agent?

Yes – all viewings will have to be accompanied by an estate agent to ensure that hygiene and social distancing rules are adhered to. However, the estate agent will not be able to drive to the property – you'll have to meet them there. Ideally, the estate agent should wear a mask and gloves, and may urge you to do the same, but this is not compulsory. 

What will happen during the vewing?

In order to minimise the risk of infection, current home owners/occupiers are being asked to leave the property during viewings, so if you want to talk to them, it'll have to be virtually. 

During the viewing, you will be asked not to touch anything, which is one of the biggest changes in how viewings are being conducted. For this reason, sellers are asked to open doors and switch on lights before the viewing. 

After the viewings, it is the owner's/occupier's responsibility to wipe down anything that may have been touched and to change towels. 

What if I'm in a Covid-19 vulnerable group?

If you are in a vulnerable group, then the easing of lockdown restrictions does not yet apply to you and you should take all reasonable measures to try and elay your house hunt and/or move.