Selling and moving house during coronavirus (Covid-19)
If you have questions about the likelihood of selling a property or moving house during the current coronavirus crisis, or want to understand what would happen if you decided to sell now, we’ve put together some FAQs which incorporate the advice of government as well as Your Move.
Can I still sell my property during the Covid-19 crisis?
Yes, but you need to remember that everyone must follow all official government guidelines to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus. This will protect yourself and all those associated with the sale - including any potential buyers. At Your Move we’ve got a specialist team in place who ensure that all our teams are adhering to the strict government guidelines and they are also constantly monitoring developments so that we can protect our customers, our colleagues and all those associated with your house sale. It’s not something that all agents can do.
Is this a good time to sell?
Activity in the housing market has been strong since the lockdown was eased in July 2020 with many buyers taking advantage of the stamp duty holiday that was introduced by the Chancellor. This could save your buyers a significant amount if they complete the purchase of their main residence before the holiday comes to an end on 31 March 2021. This change has led to high demand for residential property and it could save you money on your next purchase. If you’d like to find out how much, why not check out our Stamp Duty calculator
What are the benefits of using a high street estate agent to sell at the current time?
There are many benefits in choosing a good high street agent to help you sell your property (as we’ve already detailed in a blog we’ve written) but choosing one that is demonstrating they are responding effectively to the Covid-19 crisis is also extremely important now. By reducing the risk of transmission of the virus, an agent can play their part in ensuring that the sale is progressed in the quickest time possible.
At Your Move we’re committed to ‘getting the UK moving safely’ and have taken steps to ensure this including the introduction of safe valuation processes, 360° virtual viewings for buyers as well as advice and guidance on what should happen at physical property viewings, whether conducted by our colleagues or by you. We also work within a Covid-19 secure environment. Another advantage of being a large national brand is that we also have a specialist team in place meaning, unlike many agents, we’re able to continually monitor developments within the industry and within government so we can quickly and effectively respond to changes that may be introduced in relation to Covid-19. As an example of what we’ve done so far, we’ve got a special Coronavirus section of our website.
How will the valuation of my property take place?
The valuation, will allow the agent to assess the value of your property and perhaps take photos and measurements in readiness for marketing. The visit to your home should be as safe as possible. At Your Move, we’ve developed Safe Valuation Guidance to ensure this. This includes information about how you can prepare for the valuation appointment which you’ll receive in advance of the appointment.
Are agents obliged to operate a Track and Trace system?
To support the NHS Test and Trace in England, Test and Protect in Scotland and Test, Trace, Protect in Wales it is possible that some estate agents may volunteer to collect the appropriate details, and maintain records, of staff, customers and visitors to their premises. The branch should also display the relevant tracing QR code to allow visitors to ‘check in’ when they visit.
To help us in providing the best service possible Your Move always records customer enquiries in our internal system and, whilst your rights over the use of the data are unchanged and outlined in our Privacy Notice, we will provide this contact information to the relevant Government Agency if they request them. This is to support the UK’s aim to suppress the spread of the coronavirus. Anyone who prefers us not to share their data in this way, however, are advised to tell the Your Move branch they are using as soon as possible.
How can my property be marketed?
Once you have agreed to the marketing approach, estate agents will probably adopt very similar marketing techniques to the ones they usually use.
At Your Move we’re committed to ensuring that we do all we can to make your property be seen by as many people as possible both at local and national level and have a dedicated marketing team to ensure this. As well as comprehensive marketing packages and the introduction of 360° virtual viewings we can also boast a great website – which has already been heralded as the best overall estate agency website following a survey conducted by the comparison and switching service, Uswitch. It’s is being constantly updated and improved to help buyers when searching for property and, to complement this, we have a very active social media presence too. So, despite the current crisis continuing (and many people relying on the internet more and more), we’re still able to make your property stand out from the crowd.
What happens with viewings?
At Your Move we’ve developed Safe Property Agent Videos and guidance for viewings that take place with the agent in support (accompanied viewings) and for viewings where the seller themselves conducts the appointment (unaccompanied viewings).
As examples of the advice we offer we stress the importance of social distancing, the opening of all the internal doors prior to the viewing and allowing access to handwashing facilities and ideally separate towels/paper towels. Potential buyers are also advised to avoid touching any surfaces where possible.
If any member of either the household of the property being viewed, or the household coming to the viewing, is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or is self-isolating, then we recommend that an in-person viewing should be delayed.
A viewing of a property can still continue as confirmed by new legislation which sets out exemptions that apply to the estate agents. This states that individuals may leave home to undertake any of the following activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property:
visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes;
viewing residential properties to look for a property to buy or to rent;
preparing a residential property to move in;
visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property.
How many households can attend a viewing?
At Your Move we’re following government guidelines which state that, at the current time all viewings should involve no more than 2 households at any one time plus the agent accompanying the viewing. Anyone in a support bubble with either household, however, will count as part of that household.
Should the prospective buyers be from separate households, and wish to view the property at the same time, the government suggests that one household leaves the property to allow the other to enter – which we encourage. We will also be able to advise you in advance of what arrangements need to be made.
How should I prepare for a viewing as the seller?
At Your Move we’re following government advice that states that if people are being shown around your home, you should open all internal doors and ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned after each viewing with standard household cleaning products.
We’ve also produced a handy video and guidance notes to help sellers prepare for a viewing.
As the government advises, Your Move believes that “back to back” viewings of properties are avoided, so that there is sufficient time between each viewing for the necessary ‘post viewing’ cleaning to take place.
All viewings should be by appointment only and no open house viewings should take place.
What happens once an offer is made on my property?
If Your Move receives an offer for a property this will be communicated remotely either using online/virtual meetings or the phone. This allows for discussions to take place in the same way without the need for face to face communication. Once accepted, the usual conveyancing process will begin, with our support.
My buyer wants to view the property again, what should I do?
It is possible that your buyer may want to visit the property again before completion of the sale i.e. to measure up or remind themselves about key features of the property. In this case, Your Move recommends that the same advice should be followed as if it was a first viewing, working with our branch colleagues.
If the buyer also wants a tradesperson to visit the property, this should be arranged through Your Move, if using, so that suitable safety measures are taken. This includes, where possible, only one person visiting the property at a time. The occupier should then 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.
What about property searches, surveys and EPC assessments?
Usually the conveyancing solicitor acting for the buyer will carry out environmental searches etc. (which are required when buying) on your property online which should pose no risk to the transmission of the coronavirus. At Your Move we recommend that surveys of the property, however, which may be required by the buyer and/or their mortgage lender, as well as EPC assessments, should be conducted by appointment only and, like tradespeople, should only involve one person at a time visiting the property where possible. This follows government advice.
At Your Move we can offer advice about visits of this kind and will suggest, as the owner of the property, you should ensure social distance guidelines are followed and that the surveyor or assessor has access to all the parts of the property they need to inspect and, if possible, stay in another room.
Could my house sale be delayed because of the current crisis?
It is possible that some delays may arise because someone involved in the sale or purchase of your property may be affected by the coronavirus. At Your Move we constantly monitor the progress of a sale and will be able to liaise with solicitors to ensure that contracts or any agreements are as flexible as possible. For example this might mean including terms within the contract that would allow for some movement on the completion date or moving date.
What if the buyer or I contract coronavirus when I am due to be moving?
As instructed by the government, Your Move recommend that buyers and sellers should not expect to make a move if any member of their household has symptoms or has contracted coronavirus until they are well and the period of self-isolation has ended. We can help to ensure that terms within the contract are included to allow for some flexibility on timings if this was to occur.
What happens on moving day?
It will be important to make necessary arrangements with any removal firms well in advance of any house move and take action to reduce the risk. This is particularly relevant to vulnerable households who should also seek advice from their GP if they have concerns about the house move.
At Your Move, we’d recommend that you should also do as much of the packing yourself or, if not possible, speak to your removal firm in advance for advice. If you are particularly worried about the risk of infection, speak to us or the removers as between us we may be able to help put extra precautionary measures in place.
For information the government has also drawn up guidelines about the use of removal firms and it’s also worth knowing that at Your Move we always ensure that any keys are cleaned before handover.
What happens if there is a local lockdown in my area. What happens to my sale?
If you are yet to choose an agent to help you, it is advisable to contact them by phone initially to gain an understanding of whether any house sale can begin and, if so, what measures they have in place to restrict the spread of the coronavirus. At Your Move we can provide you with evidence of the risk assessments we have made and how they are complying with government guidelines.
We usually find that existing sales can progress assuming that all parties can continue to work online but house moves could be affected. Again it is important to work with your legal representatives and Your Move to understand what is, and what is not, allowed and work with us in coming to a satisfactory, and safe, conclusion for all concerned.
Should I be worried about the safety aspects of selling during the second lockdown?
At Your Move we are doing all we can to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and have taken steps to ensure this, at all times following official government guidelines. We have introduced safe valuation processes, 360° virtual viewings for buyers as well as advice and guidance on what should happen at physical property viewings, whether conducted by our colleagues or by you. We also work within a Covid-19 secure environment.