England’s second national lockdown ended on 2nd December, with the country now moving into a three-tiered grading of restrictions on the run-up to the Christmas period. But, what effect will these tougher and strengthened rules have for property investors?
In a desperate attempt to take back control on the coronavirus pandemic’s spread in time for Christmas, Boris Johnson has recently introduced plans for England to return to a strengthened version of its three-tier system. From Wednesday 2nd December, the areas where the virus is most prevalent will be hit the hardest in order to reduce the R number.
The Three Tiers
The new system has divided the county into three categories depending on the prevalence of COVID-19.
Tier One – Medium Alert
Tier Two – High Alert
Tier Three – Very High Alert
Despite the new tiers drastically reducing the amount of interaction that is allowed between households and families, there are a few positives. In order to aid the economy, the Government have decided to keep as much open for business as possible; making sure these businesses are functioning in accordance with social distancing measures. For the property market, this is excellent news.
Whether you are looking to invest by purchasing a property for sale, rental or lettings, the market is open for business. This also means that estate agents are open, and physical property viewings are allowed; however, social distancing guidelines must be followed. Moreover, other professions within the housing market can continue to operate as well, such as conveyancers, tradespeople and professional movers.
If you are looking to profit from the stamp duty holiday and make an investment within property, it is good to get up to speed with how the new restrictions are affecting your local area.
Tier one restrictions are the most lenient of all the groupings, and for the property market, it is very much business as usual. Of course, with the addition of safety measures and social distancing.
Property viewings can still take place as long as COVID-secure measures are followed to the letter. This means everyone must wear a face covering and regularly wash their hands or use hand sanitiser. Doors and windows must be opened to allow good ventilation during the visit, and there should only be two prospective buyers from the same household inside the property at one time. In order to adhere to the social distancing measures, open houses are not allowed to take place.
The seller and estate agent can choose to wait outside or not to be present while the viewing is undertaken. And, if anyone is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been told to self-isolate, then the house viewing should be delayed. Virtual viewings are still actively encouraged.
If after viewing your potential property investment you would like to make an offer or consult the advice of an estate agent, please be aware that most branches are encouraging their staff to work digitally from home. Any open estate agents will be offer meetings by appointment only.
Tier two restrictions are for areas with higher or rapidly rising levels of coronavirus. Similar to tier-one restrictions, estate agents and other businesses relating to the property market can remain open in tier two.
When viewing a potential investment in tier two, the appropriate precautions must take place. The same advice applies from above, from wearing a face mask to regularly sanitising your hands, ensuring there is ventilation from open doors and windows. And, importantly, only two prospective buyers from the same household can view the property.
Again, if you have bee contacted by track and trace and told to isolate or are showing any symptoms of COVID, then the viewing should not go ahead. For the latest Government advice, click here.
For the areas in England where coronavirus transmission is alarmingly high, tier three restrictions apply. In these locations, people cannot socialise with people outside of their household or support bubble inside or outside, with the few exceptions of open public spaces such as parks and beaches. The rule of six still applies here.
Under these restrictions, however, the property market is still up and running with the addition of plenty of COVID-secure measures. Anyone who is looking to buy, move or sell has been warned to expect some flexibility by the Government, in case anyone involved in the deal contracts or is exposed to COVID-19.
Property viewings can still go ahead with all the same measures as tier one and tier two; although virtual viewings are heavily encouraged. In-house viewings will most likely be prioritised for the most interested prospective buyers.
Suppose you are looking to bag yourself a great property investment before the end of the stamp duty holiday. In that case, the best thing to do is to check the restrictions in your local area before arranging an appointment or property viewing.