Time to move house? We’ve been waiting …

Not many in the game will have missed the Government’s change in the regulations allowing those who wish to move house to do so, even if it was kept under wraps until 10pm on Tuesday and came into effect on Wednesday 13 May.

Many stakeholders have become very excited at the prospect of all those hundreds of thousands of transactions held in abeyance being able to progress once more to exchange and completion.

Wednesday was hailed by estate agents as “back to work” day, and noted a 45% increase in online viewings on Rightmove before 8am. It was also encouraging to see over 2000 properties added to the portal in the first six hours, confirming there is much demand to move house out there still.

The new normal?

However, all interested parties do need to take a deep breath and pause to reflect before jumping headlong into the business as usual mode often characterising post-hiatus moments.

The Government has been clear that this is not a return to the old normal conditions. The general guidance on social distancing, hand washing and sanitising still apply.

Changes in the way house buying works

The house buying process will be different.

Estate agents have a duty to ensure viewings are conducted in a safe manner – that means by appointment only (no open houses), and ideally online first so that the number of physical viewings is contained.

Sellers will need to vacate while viewings are taking place. Buyers will be encouraged to either wear protective gloves on entry, or to use hand sanitiser regularly as they go around the property, and keep touching of surfaces to a minimum.

This is all perfectly sensible and if adhered to, we will hopefully not see a spike in new infections caused by this action.

So once you have finally viewed the property you would like to buy, then it’s plain sailing, right? Not necessarily.

We at Cunningtons have of course been working hard for our clients throughout this crisis, providing advice on whether it is appropriate for transactions to proceed.

Sanitise and keep your distance!

To summarise, the latest Government advice issued on 13 May 2020 is that those who wish to proceed with their move can do so, but they must still observe the sort of regulations that we have become used to since the Covid-19 outbreak. These include social distancing and hygiene, and follow guidance on removals, and cleaning any property prior to moving in, especially any property which has been occupied up until completion.

This advice may of course change and possibly become more restrictive again should the country experience a “second wave” of infections.

However moving home is not appropriate if you or a close family member in the same household are self-isolating or have tested positive for coronavirus.

We’re all doing our best

We at Cunningtons remain hopeful that solicitors, banks, lenders and removal companies will try to be operating ‘business as usual’ in terms of the conveyancing process, to help everyone trying to move.

However many removal companies may not undertake certain removal tasks such as packing or unpacking due to the risks.

Some lenders are still experiencing delays in processing mortgage applications or releasing funds either because their staff are working remotely, or are ill, or they are reliant on a survey which may not be safe to undertake.

We would encourage all homebuyers to check with everyone involved in their conveyancing transaction before they exchange contracts. Consider the length of time you need between exchange and completion, and think about arrangements you could make if you or a member of your family need to self-isolate during the moving period or become ill.

What is YOUR new normal?

Finally, do consider your own personal circumstances before rushing headlong into buying a new property. It is a big investment, and you may be taking on a larger debt than you can currently service, so is this time of economic uncertainty the right time for that extra burden?

If you are secure in your employment, or financial position, then by all means go for it. However if there’s any doubt, speak to your mortgage broker first (and perhaps your employer!)

So our message is: if you are well, happy, and determined to move house at this time, then observe the social distancing rules, keep safe, and we can help you liaise with all stakeholders during your move to try and make things go as smoothly as possible!

Stay well everyone!

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