Here are some of the key points from the Governments' advice issued this morning at 10am:
Preparing to Move:
You can put your home on the market and start to look for properties you want to move into. If any member of the household being viewed is showing symptoms or is self-isolating then estate agents should not physically visit the property.
- You can begin to market your home and estate agents are able to visit in order to take photos/videos of the property.
- To help prevent the spread of infection, we encourage people to do the majority of their property searching online; for example only physically viewing those properties which you believe you are most likely to want to move into.
- As usual, you can also start to bring together the documentation necessary to sell your property (more information on these documents is available in the government’s guidance on how to sell homes).
- If you wish to buy a new build property you should make contact with the developer in the usual way. You should be able to view the show home or visit the particular plot you are interested in purchasing, although there will be appointment systems in place.
People should use virtual viewings before visiting properties in person where possible, in order to minimise public health risks. If any member of either the household being viewed, or the household undertaking a viewing is showing symptoms of coronavirus or is self-isolating, then a physical viewing should be delayed. All viewings should take place by appointment and only involve members of a single household.
- We encourage people to do their property searching online wherever possible. Initial viewings should be done virtually wherever this is possible and physical viewings should only be conducted where buyers are seriously considering making an offer on a property.
- To support this, agents may ask home occupiers to conduct virtual viewings. This will help reduce the number of properties people need to visit before finding their future home.
- Viewings should be conducted by appointment only and no open house viewings should take place.
- If your property is being viewed, you should open all the internal doors prior to the viewing, and allow access to handwashing facilities and ideally separate towels/paper towels.
- As most people choose to do, we encourage that you vacate your property whilst viewings are taking place in order to minimise your contact with those not in your household.
- When viewing a property, all parties should wash their hands and avoid touching surfaces where possible. Agents will ask you to restrict the number of people who accompany you on a viewing so that social distancing can be practised, and only those in your immediate household should be there.
- We expect agents to accompany clients on a viewing but follow social distancing rules wherever possible. Where viewings are unaccompanied, agents should make sure viewers and homeowners understand how they should conduct themselves.
- Once the viewing has taken place, the homeowner should ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned with standard household cleaning products and towels disposed of safely or washed as appropriate.
You are free to make or accept an offer or reserve a property as normal.
- There is a greater risk that parties may need to delay their move because someone is showing symptoms of coronavirus or self-isolating. Where needed your legal adviser should advise you and help make sure that any contracts or agreements are as flexible as possible to accommodate this risk.
- Prospective purchasers may wish to visit a property again once they have agreed a sale, for example to measure up. Where this has been agreed to, the above advice on prioritising virtual visits, hygiene measures, maintaining social distancing at all times and mitigating contact where possible should be followed.
- Purchasers may also want to send in tradespeople to carry out inspections. Where possible these should be scheduled with one person visiting the property at any time. No tradespeople should enter a property where a member of the household is showing symptoms of coronavirus or self-isolating. Where a tradesperson is visiting the property, the occupier should maintain social distancing, wash their hands regularly and minimise contact as far as possible, for example by staying in another room. These visits should be carried out in line with government safer working guidance.
Removal firms are able to operate, although they may need to adjust usual procedures in order to ensure moves happen as safely as possible.
- We encourage you to contact removal firms as early as possible in advance of your move.
- You and your household should also try and do as much of the packing yourself as possible. However, where this is not possible, you should speak to your removal firms in advance.
- We ask that, where possible, you clean your belongings, with standard domestic cleaning products before they are handled by others, including removal firms.
- Whilst the removers are in your home, you should ensure any internal doors are open and seek to minimise your contact with the crew, maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres where possible.
- All parties should wash their hands and avoid touching surfaces where possible to reduce the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.
- You should not provide refreshments but you should ensure they have access to hand-washing facilities, using separate towels or paper towels if possible, which should be washed or disposed of safely afterwards.