With the housing market reopening for business, the Government have issued clear advice on the house moving process and we summarise these, and their implications for you, below. If you would like to read the guidelines for yourself, please find them here:
In short, people are free to sell, buy or let a property and to move home but there are strict safety recommendations in place to protect all parties at every step of the process. Your house can be marketed and you can start to look for a new property to move into, but there are rules around keeping as much of the process virtual as possible and sticking very carefully to social distancing and hygiene advice. Here, we summarise the guidance and are procedures. Those that place an obligation upon you as a vendor are shown in red.
Vulnerable, those shielding and people self-isolating or having tested positive for coronavirus
It is recognised that people who are shielding or are vulnerable may need to move home and that others may develop symptoms or need to self-isolate. Where this occurs then no visits to a property should be undertaken by anyone. Encouragement is given for contracts to be flexible to allow move dates to be changed to reflect any change in circumstances.
Preparing to buy, sell or move home
You can put or keep your home on the market and we are able to visit to take photos and details of the property. EPCs can be prepared.
If you are searching for a property then encouragement is given to searching online and only visiting those which you are most likely to want to move into.
Viewings should not be carried out if any member of the household being viewed, or the household undertaking a viewing is showing symptoms of coronavirus or is self-isolating. As your agents, we will ensure that those wanting to view comply. If you have a change of circumstances affecting the ability of people to view then we ask that you inform us.
All viewings must be by appointment and only involve members of a single household. No open house viewings are allowed.
If your property is being viewed, then the following guidance should be followed:
- You should open all the internal doors prior to the viewing
- You should allow access to handwashing facilities and ideally separate towels/paper towels
- You should vacate your property whilst viewings are taking place to minimise your contact with those not in your household
- If you are carrying out the viewing, social distancing rules must be followed wherever possible
- Once the viewing has taken place, you should ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned with standard household cleaning products and towels disposed of safely or washed as appropriate
Whilst we will ask all viewers to sanitise their hands prior to entering a property, if this is not feasible, then they will be asked to wash their hands on entry and to avoid touching surfaces where possible. The number of people viewing will be restricted so that social distancing can be practised and only those in the immediate household should be there.
You are free to make or accept an offer as normal.
As stated above, contracts or agreements should be as flexible as possible to accommodate the risk of a party being unable to move due to coronavirus restrictions.
After the acceptance of an offer, prospective purchasers and tradespeople may visit the property again subject to social distancing and hand washing.
Surveyors and EPC assessors can now undertake surveys and surveyors should follow government guidance.
If your home is being surveyed, you should ensure the surveyor has access to all the parts of the property they need to inspect and make efforts to minimise contact with the surveyor.
Moving your belongings
Removal firms can operate, although they will be expected to adapt their procedures so moves can happen as safely as possible.
Vendors are encouraged to contact removal firms as early as possible in advance of your move and we can help if required. The government guidance states that:
- You and your household should also try and do as much of the packing yourself as possible
- Where possible you should clean your belongings before they are handled by others
- Whilst the removers are in your home, you should ensure that internal doors are open and respect social distancing
- You should not provide refreshments but you should ensure that the removers have access to hand washing facilities, using separate towels or paper towels if possible, which should be washed or disposed of safely afterwards
Removers should wash their hands frequently, should seek to minimise contact and implement a buddy system to ensure that the same people work together when moving bulky items and furniture.
The guidance places restrictions and obligations upon us as your agent as follows:
- We must inform customers about our procedures so they are safe through the sales process
- We must ask whether any party is showing symptoms or has been asked to self-isolate before going ahead with any viewing
- We should operate using an appointment system
- We should not carry out any open house viewings
- We should encourage clients to view properties virtually
- We can accompany viewings subject to maintaining social distancing, if social distancing is not possible then staff should wear a face covering
- Where we do not accompany a visit, we should ensure that buyers and sellers understand how the viewing should be conducted
- We should not drive clients to appointments
- We should ensure that we and those viewing a property either wash their hands on entry or use hand sanitiser
- We should do what we can to promote flexibility when arranging move dates
- We should ensure that any keys are appropriately cleaned before handover
We recognise the importance of this guidance and we wish to ensure that it is complied with. We see no reason why the implementation of these measures should prevent the successful sale of a property and a move and our primary objective is to ensure that this occurs to your satisfaction.
For further information or to discuss these measures further, contact: