What will England’s new-look property market be like for buyers and sellers?

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England’s new-look housing market will involve house hunters taking hand sanitiser with them to see homes, a ban on “open house” viewings for now, sellers allowing access to handwashing facilities, and property chains being paused if someone has Covid-19.

Here is a look at how the process of moving home is being adapted to reduce the risk of the spread of coronavirus:

– Can all house moves that were on hold in England now go ahead?

People who have coronavirus or are self-isolating with family should not leave their home to move home, nor should they go on property viewings, the Government’s guidance says.

Even if this does not apply directly to the buyer or the seller, their property transaction could still be held up because someone else in the property chain or their family member is self-isolating or has tested positive for coronavirus.

The guidance also says all moves may have to be paused for a short period of time to manage the spread of coronavirus. The Government will let people know if this becomes necessary at any point.

– What if I am committed by contract to moving home and I have coronavirus or am self-isolating?

The Government says you should delay your move until everyone in your household has ended their self-isolation period.

All parties should try to make amicable arrangements to move at a later date.

If moving house is essential due to an urgent health and safety risk, people should contact Public Health England for advice.

– I want to put my house on the market – can an estate agent visit my home?

Yes, the Government says estate agents are able to visit to take photos and videos of the property.

Property sales
Estate agents in England can now reopen and carry out viewings as long as social distancing guidance is followed (PA)

Initial viewings should be done virtually wherever possible.

For a physical viewing, you can only take members of the same household – and the number of people accompanying you should be kept to a minimum.

House hunters are advised by the Government to avoid touching surfaces during viewings, wash their hands regularly, and bring their own hand sanitiser.

Small children accompanying their parents on viewings should also be discouraged from touching surfaces and they should wash their hands regularly.

Estate agents can still accompany clients on viewings, but they should follow social distancing rules.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

The Government says no “open house” viewings should take place.

It also recommends that sellers are not at home during viewings and that they should allow access to handwashing facilities and ideally separate towels or paper towels.

It also says sellers should leave all internal doors open and ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned after each viewing with standard household cleaning products.

– What about sending over a property professional to physically inspect a property I’m looking to buy?

Where a tradesperson is visiting the property, the current occupier should maintain social distancing and if possible just one person should visit at a time.

Surveyors can also carry out inspections, subject to Government guidance.

– How about the moving process itself?

Anyone involved in any aspect of the home moving process should practise social distancing in line with public health advice.

The Government advises that when moving, you and your household should try to do as much of the packing yourself as you can.

If you have particular concerns about the risk of infection, your estate agent or removals firm may put extra measures in place.

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