With coronavirus cases on the rise again, the government has implemented Tier 3 restrictions in several English regions. There are restrictions in place in Scotland, and Wales have a 'firebreak lockdown' from this Friday until 9th November. What does all of this mean for house sales and home moves? Can you still buy or sell a property, are viewings allowed, and can you proceed with a house move?
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The good news is that as far as the rules go, the property market remains open for business. Even areas that currently fall under Tier 3 restrictions – Liverpool, Greater Manchester, and Lancashire – do not have bans on property viewings or house moves. However, in practice, if you are located in one of these areas, you may find that house sellers and estate agents are reluctant or unwilling to conduct viewings because people shouldn't be meeting anyone outside their support bubble.
It is likely that some sellers will suspend viewings altogether, while others may offer virtual tours instead. In fact, the Scottish government is already advising that house sellers and buyers adopt a virtual-first approach: only go and see the property in person if you're very serious about buying it. Do bear in mind that all the usual Covid rules apply to property viewings: social distancing, the wearing of face coverings, and hand and surface sanitising.
If you live in Wales, you currently can't go to a house viewing at all, although essential house moves that cannot be postponed and were agreed prior to the lockdown announcement can go ahead. If the spring lockdown is anything to go by, house removal companies will still operate, although some may choose to suspend taking on new jobs. If you are in Wales and moving, we strongly advise you get in touch with your removals company to confirm they will go ahead with the move.
Our advice if you're not sure whether you should attend a property viewing? We think the 'virtual first' approach is the best one: ask the seller and/or estate agent for more photos and a video tour. Even if not professionally done, a video recording of the space will give you a much better idea of what the home is like and whether you'd want to put in an offer. Arrange a physical viewing only if you're very keen on the property,