What does the latest lockdown mean for the UK property market?

With the Prime Minister announcing a new national lockdown in England to control soaring COVID-19 cases, many are left wondering about the state of the UK property market. While the housing market will remain open, and people can still buy, sell, rent or let properties, government guidelines must be followed.

In this new lockdown, people can only leave their home for limited reasons, with non-essential shops and schools to close. It is suggested that these guidelines will remain in place until mid-February, only to be lifted if the vaccine roll-out meets its target and the pressure on hospitals improve.

While the housing market can remain open, many are left wondering how they will continue to conduct their business. Mark Hayward, the chief policy advisor at industry body Propertymark, said, “We welcome the news that the housing market is to remain open throughout this new lockdown period, but it is essential that all agents continue to play their part in reducing the spread of the virus by following all relevant guidance on how to safely conduct viewings.”

What safety measures have been put in place during this lockdown?

Viewing a property or moving home has been classed as one of the limited exemptions of the new lockdown rules. Other services related to the property market such as solicitors, valuers, surveyors and removal firms can also continue to operate. However, all parties must follow government guidelines for social distancing, masks, and sanitisation when performing their services.

Regarding estate agents and letting agents, they are allowed to remain open, but members of the public have to follow a set of rules when visiting their offices. For example, you must wear a suitable face covering during the visit and may be required to make an appointment in advance.

Furthermore, if you want to list your property for sale or rent, agents can still visit your home to take measurements and photographs as long as social distancing measures are followed, internal doors are kept open, and masks are worn.

However, if you, or any member of your household, is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or are self-isolating, then no one should visit the property.

Can I Still View Properties in Lockdown?

Property developers and investors have been eager to know if they can continue their business in lockdown and look for their next project. If you are looking to buy a home, you can continue to view properties as long as social distancing measures are followed and you wear a suitable face covering. However, viewings can only happen when an appointment is made, and ‘open house’ viewings are not allowed at this time.

It is also recommended to wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitiser, avoid touching surfaces when possible and refrain from bringing children to viewings. Just like when showing a property, all internal doors, and windows, should be left open for ventilation, and surfaces like door handles should be cleaned after every viewing. If an agent is facilitating the viewing, then it is recommended that the property owners wait outside the property while the viewing takes place to minimise unnecessary contact.

However, many estate agents are currently offering virtual viewings to minimise contact and give a person an in-depth first impression of the property. After this, you may then be invited for an in-person viewing if you are seriously considering making an offer. Virtual viewings may also allow you to fit viewing more properties into a shorter amount of time across a large portion of the UK, perfect for property developers and investors looking for their next project.

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