2020 was a confusing and troubled year for the property industry. The covid-19 pandemic affected all areas of daily life, and the restrictions on movement made viewing homes in person an impossibility. It was hoped that 2021 would bring relief to the country with the expectation that the virus would be under control. The opposite proved to be the case; thus the UK entered the new year under what has become known as Lockdown 3.0.
With a vaccination program under way – at the time of writing the vast majority of the first group have had their first jabs – there is finally light at the end of the tunnel, so how has the latest lockdown affected the property market?
UK Property Market January 2021
Rather than a slow-down, the UK property market experienced a boom of sorts in the latter half of 2020, with prices rising by 7.3% average to the highest level in six years. Part of this was down to people being forced to remain in their homes for long periods and concluding they needed more space. Market analysts have also reported city-dwellers moving to the country in greater numbers than before.
The lockdown effect, as it may be seen, has had a great effect on the way we live our lives, and outdoor space has become more valued. Whereas in the early part of the year mortgage lenders withdrew products in the light of uncertainty, later in 2020 the demand for mortgages rocketed, leading to a reintroduction of many products and greater take-up. As we shall explain below, the problem of viewing properties has been cleverly addressed by innovative agents.
Viewing Property in Lockdown
The traditional meet the agent and have a look around the house method of viewing is more difficult than in normal times. This is necessary not only because of the restrictions on meeting people outside your ‘bubble’ but also because of the hygiene issues of different viewers entering and viewing a house. We will talk about the guidelines for viewing in person below. However, agents have become inventive in their approach.
In fact, it could be that the lockdown situations have changed the face of home viewing and buying permanently, as online viewings are now commonplace. Buyers were reluctant to move on a purchase in the early days of online viewing but there are more sales going through as people begin to recognise the advantage of remote viewing of properties.
Up to the minute 3D video technology allows for an impressive rendition of the property n screen, and the viewer can see what the property is all about. The UK government has recognised, however, that actual viewing is necessary if the property market is to stay fluid, so there are guidelines in place for viewing. Let’s have a look at these and consider what you can and cannot do in relation to viewing and moving home.
Practicalities of Actual Viewings
While lockdown restrictions bar unnecessary movement outside your local area, this does not preclude travelling to view a property you may be interested in buying. Moving home right now is entirely permissible, yet the government asks that it only take place if necessary. As for viewings, the following guidelines must be adhered to during lockdown 3.0:
- No more than 2 households can be inside a property at one time. This includes agents who may be with the viewing or selling party. Persons in a support bubble count as part of the household.
- Viewings are by appointment only, the 2-metre rule must be observed, face coverings worn, and the viewers must avoid touching surfaces.
- Internal doors must remain open, and the home owners must clean the surfaces and door handles after each visit using standard cleaning products.
These guidelines are simple common sense. If you are in any doubt about any of them it may be sensible to contact your agent and they will be able to advise you on the best approach. Once again, it’s important we remind you the government asks that only essential viewings are made.
It may be prudent at present to use the online resources in the first instance. Whereas you would have collected details in paper form in the past, it is now best to use the increasingly detailed description and specifications that agents are putting online at their websites. These can include the aforementioned 3D walk-through and are designed to give you enough information to narrow down your choice of properties to a shortlist.
Once you have a few you would like to view, talk to the agents concerned to arrange physical viewings, bearing in mind the guidelines we have listed above. When it comes to the actual move there are further government guidelines that must be followed.
Brief Guide to Moving House During Lockdown 3.0
If you are looking to put your house up for sale you can do so. Agents may visit the property to take photos, videos and details whilst observing the national restriction guidelines. You can also move house – if necessary, we stress – and are asked to adhere to the following guidelines:
- Pack as much as you can personally. If you are engaging a removals company to do the packing you must make sure internal doors are all open, items have been cleaned, hand washing and face mask requirements are met, and you are asked not to offer refreshments.
- Only those in your household or bubble may help with the move.
- You may use accommodation overnight should it be needed when moving.
- It may be sensible to engage the services of a cleaning company to deep clean your new home before you move.
In general, the advice is that you may move home during the Lockdown 3.0 period but are asked to do so only if necessary, and as for viewing, use the digital resources as best you can and ensure you follow the guidelines when physically viewing a property.