Moving home during lockdown? Here are all the things you can still do

Moving home during lockdown? Here are all the things you can still do

Another Covid-19 lockdown wasn’t the start to 2021 we were all hoping for.

But with the property market remaining open for business, unlike the spring 2020 lockdown, you can still find your dream home despite the restrictions.

Here, we’ll answer some of your questions on buying, selling and moving home during the latest lockdown and outline what we’re doing to ensure you can still view properties safely…

How will viewing properties to rent and buy work during lockdown?

With the property market remaining open during the latest lockdown, viewings of properties to rent and buy can still take place.

Health and safety, of course, is still our main priority here at Whitegates and, where possible, we’ll be offering buyers and renters virtual viewings initially.

On viewings that take place in person, we’ll be following the strict guidance on social distancing and hygiene.

How can I stay safe when viewing properties?

Initial viewings of rental properties, or those to buy, should be done virtually where possible, while here at Whitegates, we’re also able to carry out our market appraisals through video calls to limit social contact.

As well as that, we’re also:

• Limiting in-person property viewings to two members of the same household

• Undertaking cleaning of surfaces before and after viewings

• Maintaining social distancing where possible during viewings

• Providing hand sanitiser or hand washing facilities during viewings

• Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

I’m selling my home – will it still go through during lockdown?

There’s no reason to be concerned that the lockdown will curtail your property sale.

Of course, sales do sometimes fall through, but with the property market open and all key people involved in the sales process still working, there’s no direct reason why sales won’t complete. Conveyancers and solicitors are largely working remotely and have been since the spring of 2020 and the first coronavirus lockdown.

And while some aspects of the conveyancing process, including local searches, are experiencing delays in some cases due to the pandemic, sales are still going through.

• More than 115,000 sales were recorded in November 2020 – 19.3% more than in November 2019, according to HMRC

• The 12 months of 2020 saw 9% more sales agreed than 2019, according to Zoopla

• More than 104,000 mortgages were approved in November 2020 – the highest number since August 2007, reported the Bank of England

• Zoopla reported 40% more demand for property in 2020 than the previous year – despite the spring lockdown

Can I move in lockdown if I’m buying a home?

Moving home is still permitted under the lockdown rules.

That means estate agents, solicitors, conveyancers and lenders can still operate, doing so safely, to help ensure property purchases are kept on track. If you’re almost ready to move, you can book a removals service, with companies still able to enter homes during the lockdown while sticking to rules on hygiene and social distancing.

Lenders can also carry out valuations and buyers can book surveys.

Can I move into a rental property during lockdown?

You can rent a new property during lockdown and property viewings are still allowed but should be done virtually where possible.

To view a rental property in person, and when you move in, you should stick to guidelines on social distancing and hygiene and agents will be helping to ensure you’re able to do this. Our top priority at Whitegates is ensuring you’re safe and you can find out more about the steps we’re taking during rental property viewings here.

As a landlord, can I let my property to new tenants in lockdown?

Lettings are still permitted during the lockdown period, but initial viewings should be done virtually.

Viewings should also be done when rental properties are vacant if at all possible. Landlords and their letting agents can also:

• Carry out essential maintenance through tradespeople as long as it is safe to do so and Covid-19 guidance is followed

• Invite cleaning professionals to work between tenancies and undertake check-in / check-out inventories while taking steps to limit social contact

• Host viewings of rental properties while sticking to rules on hygiene and social distancing, but these should be done virtually where possible and ideally when the property is vacant

Will the stamp duty holiday end in March as planned?

The stamp duty ‘holiday’ was introduced back in July 2020 and is due to end on March 31, 2021.

Under the new rules, buyers pay no stamp duty on the first £500,000 of a property’s purchase price, although buyers of second homes or investment properties still have to pay a 3% additional home surcharge. After March 31, however, the stamp duty exemption figure is due to revert back to £125,000 and £300,000 for first-time buyers.

The latest lockdown has resulted in calls for the ‘holiday’ to be extended beyond April or removed in phases to avoid a ‘cliff edge’ scenario and put additional pressure on buyers to complete purchases during lockdown.

How has the property market been performing during the pandemic?

The changes to stamp duty, coupled with intense pent-up demand from house-hunters, saw the property market bounce back strongly after the first lockdown restrictions were lifted in May 2020.

The market during summer, autumn and now in the winter of 2021 remains buoyant.

• UK property prices grew by 7.5% in 2020, according to Nationwide

• 40,000 sales were agreed between May 13, when the market reopened after the first lockdown, and June 13

• Rightmove recorded its busiest day since September on January 4, 2021 – with six million visits in one day

• Visits to Rightmove in December 2020 were 57% higher than in December 2019, while Boxing Day saw a 54% year-on-year rise in visitors

Rightmove has predicted price growth of 4% in 2021, with the market continuing to perform well despite the ongoing pandemic. And buyers are still extremely active despite the winter months and the lockdown, as many look to find their ideal home and beat the stamp duty deadline in March.