As you may know, last week the government tightened some of the rules which are in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Most of these measures don’t differ hugely from the existing ones, but the changes that were introduced mean that:
- We should work from home as much as possible
- Pubs and restaurants should not remain open after 10 pm
- Staff working in hospitality or retail must wear face masks* too (see note below, about estate agents)
- Events such as weddings are now limited to a maximum of 15 people (down from 30)
There are many details within the guidance, but the government has said that the three most crucial elements continue to be:
- Wash your hands – with soap, regularly, and for at least 20 seconds
- Cover your face – especially when in an enclosed space with people you don’t usually meet with, and where socially distancing is difficult
- Social distancing – stay two meters apart as much as possible
How will these rules affect my move?
There haven’t been any updates that are specific to the property market just yet, so for now, the guidelines that are currently in place still stand.
This means that you’re totally free to move homes if you want to – as long as you’re not self-isolating or quarantining.
Here’s a quick recap of some of the most important rules to keep in mind when moving homes:
Try to do a virtual viewing first, if it’s an option. It’ll reduce the number of viewings agents do, which also minimises the spread of germs.
It could also save you time, because you’ll have a better idea of whether a house is worth seeing or not.
When viewing a property in person, make sure you wear a face mask, avoid touching surfaces, and wash your hands or use sanitiser before and after.
There shouldn’t be more than two households within the property at any one time, and viewings should only be arranged by appointment, so ‘open houses’ aren’t happening at the moment.
If you’re selling your home and are having interested buyers come around to have a look, open all the inside doors beforehand so they don’t have to touch the door handles.
It’s recommended that you’re not in the property during the viewing, and that you disinfect all surfaces after.
See our full guide on how to view property safely.
Offers through to completion
You’re free to make or accept an offer or reserve a property as normal.
But it’s possible that in some areas the conveyancing process will be slower than usual, as some solicitors and agents may be operating at limited capacity, or are very busy working through deals that have stacked up since earlier in the year.
If you are about to enter into a legally binding contract, you should discuss the possible implications of one of the parties being affected by having to self-isolate or quarantine. Ask your legal representative if they can include provisions to manage these risks in the contracts.
If someone in your household – or the other party’s – began to show any flu symptoms just as you’re about to complete, you’ll probably need to postpone things by a few weeks.
The government says we should all remain flexible in this sort of scenario, so it would be ideal if your contracts can reflect that.
Removal firms are able to carry out work, as long as all the usual procedures that ensure everyone’s safety are in place.
Do as much as you can of the packing yourself, and if at all possible, give your belongings a quick spray or wipe-down with a disinfectant before they’re handled by someone else.
When the removals’ team is around, do your best to maintain distance and wash your hands regularly. Unfortunately you won’t be able to offer them refreshments – which of course they’ll understand.
We also recommend that you book your removals company as early as possible. In many areas they are very busy and if may be a challenge for you to find one available at a short notice.
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