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It is hoped that changes to the rules on moving residences during the United Kingdom’s coronavirus lockdown could help to reinvigorate the troubled property market. Viewing properties and visiting local estate agents are now considered a valid reason to leave your home as part of the relaxation of the coronavirus lockdown rules in England. The change to the regulations is hoped to reinvigorate the market for properties struggling under the Covid-19 restrictions – which left around £82 billion worth of transactions on hold.
Viewing properties and visiting estate agents are now considered to be a legitimate justification to leave your home as part of the relaxation of the coronavirus lockdown rules in England. The reform to the legislation is expected to reinvigorate the demand for property suffering under the Covid-19 constraints – which put about £82 billion worth of transactions on hold.
The detailed guidance provided in the 50-page document of Monday 11 May also provides information on which businesses may return to work, improvements to the socially distanced guidelines and a tentative timetable for returning schools and nurseries.
What Are The Rules On Moving House During A Lockdown?
Under the previous rules to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, moving house where it was reasonably necessary was already considered a valid justification for people to be outside their homes.
Under the new guidelines, the definition of a “reasonable excuse” has been extended to include various activities relating to the purchase, rental or sale of a residential property.
This means that the following are no longer prohibited, as long as the Government’s guidelines on social distance are complied with:
- Visiting estate or leasing agents, developing sales offices or displaying homes.
- View residential property to search for property to purchase or rent.
- Preparing a residential property to move to.
- Visit a residential property to undertake any activity necessary for the rental or sale of that property.
How Do House Viewings Work In Lockdown?
Homebuyers have been able to do “virtual viewing” online in recent weeks, and most may have been holding back from putting in offers until they could physically view the property.
While agents and house hunters are still encouraged to view properties virtually, if buyers are seriously considered making an offer, they can now view homes in person.
These should be carried out by appointment only, according to the advice of the Government – no open-house viewing should take place.
It is recommended during the viewings:
- The vendor should open all internal doors and allow access to hand-washing facilities.
- Sellers are also encouraged to leave their property during viewing.
- Both parties involved in the screening should wash their hands and avoid touching the surfaces.
- Estate agents should follow social distance guidelines wherever possible.
What If You Have Symptoms?
The Government’s advice states: “Moving home is not appropriate while posing a direct risk of coronavirus transmission.
“People who have cv19 or are self-isolating with a family member should not leave their home to either move home or view property.”
If you have agreed to move house while having to self-isolate (or if you have tested positive for coronavirus), it is highly recommended that you delay your travel until the isolation time is over.
Sellers are told that parties may need to delay their movements for these reasons and that both parties are encouraged to keep the agreements as flexible as possible in order to handle these risks.
If it is essential that you move during either self-isolation or positive testing for Covid-19, the Government will advise you to contact Public Health England or your local public health teams.
Can House Surveys Take Place In Lockdown?
If you buy a house during the lockdown, your surveyor can now do a survey of the property.
Similar to viewings, these should only take place by appointment, and should not take place if a household member has coronavirus symptoms or is in self-isolation.
In actual reality, when it comes to moving, removal firms are permitted to operate, again subject to social distance steps.
Movers are advised to contact removal companies as soon as possible and to do as much of the packing as possible to reduce the possibility of spreading Covid-19.
What Has Been The Reaction to the Housing Market Reopening?
Property professionals welcomed the moves, saying they could help release some of the “pent-up demand” on a market that has stalled in recent weeks.
According to Zoopla ‘s property website, around 373,000 property transactions across the United Kingdom, with a total value of £ 82 billion, have been put on hold due to lockdown measures.
Some lenders also recently withdrew low-deposit mortgages from the market in the midst of home valuation difficulties during the lockdown, although some new deals have been launched since then.
In a joint statement, David Cox, Chief Executive Officer of ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) Propertymark and Mark Hayward, Chief Executive Officer of NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents) Propertymark, said: “It is great news for consumers and the industry that the housing market is being opened up and people can let, rent, buy and sell properties again.
“The new regulations provide clarification for agents and will help them to cope with the rising demand of consumers.”
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the Government’s plan “will make it possible for people to move home safely, covering every aspect of sales and allowing the process from viewing to removal.”
“Our step-by-step plan is based on the latest recommendations to ensure the health and security of everyone concerned.
“This vital industry can move forward safely now, and those waiting patiently to move forward can do so now.”
Other Ways To View Properties?
The lockdown has opened up a huge tin of worms for the real estate industry both in the UK and overseas. To combat not being able to physically view properties because of travel restrictions (or working from home restrictions) in the future, then virtual viewing, 360 images or live streamed viewing may be the future of the real estate industry.
Virtual Reality House Viewings
If you own a VR headset like Oracle or VIVE, then you could be one of the first to enjoy a fully immersive virtual reality viewing on a property. A virtual tour will provide the headset user with a walkthrough tour that will allow prospective buyers to enjoy a full property viewing without being present.
To boost sales and progress the real estate market – estate agents should be looking into this immersive technology as it could be a huge selling point, especially for investors who have limited time to view properties anyway.
360 Images For Estate Agents
It’s now a well-known fact that properties that are advertised online with 360° photos sell far faster than ones that don’t. The UK property market is well known for avoiding using 360° photography in their property listings; however, as times change, 360° virtual tours could be a business saver.
Live Stream Property Viewings
Sweden’s real estate sector reacted to lockdowns by switching to live streaming property viewings to groups that were interested in purchasing them – this has enabled them to keep the property market going to avoid price crashes and a decline in sales.
Some of the best live streaming plugins include:
- bz Player Pro
- Livestream social for WordPress
- WP Stream
- WP Video Enhanced