New year, new lockdown. While 2021 may not have started the way many us were hoping, rest assured this is not like March 2020 when it comes to the property market. Jeni Browne is here to put your mind at ease and explain what can still happen and how.
With the closure of schools, the latest Government announcement certainly feels like déjà vu of March. However, rest assured, lockdown 3.0 is very different for the property market. So, if you’re hoping to complete before the 31st March stamp duty deadline, don’t panic.
Can valuations still happen in lockdown?
In short, yes. During the Spring 2020 lockdown, it was the suspension of physical valuations that brought the property market to a sudden halt. With thousands of investors and home-movers looking to complete purchases before the stamp duty deadline at the end of March 2021, the pressure is on for brokers, lenders, solicitors and local authorities to help clients meet the deadline. Consequently, physical valuations are still permitted in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
There are understandably quite a few regulations and precautions that need to be adhered to ensure they are completed safely for everyone involved. These include:
- Maintaining 2m social distancing throughout the inspection. It is suggested that inhabitants vacate rooms being inspected to allow for this and that all parties wear masks. Some surveying contractors stipulate that the property is vacated 30 minutes before the inspection to minimise transmission chances further.
- Opening all doors in the property to minimise the need for surface contact. Inhabitants should clean all door handles and surfaces before and after the inspection.
- Should any party (either household or the surveyor) display symptoms and/or need to isolate, the appointment must be rescheduled.
- Surveyors should wash their hands immediately upon entering the property, using separate or paper towels which can be washed or disposed of after use.
- The surveyor should contact the household before the inspection to confirm all necessary health and safety measures. Landlords will either need to pass on all relevant information or ask tenants to liaise directly with the surveyor to ensure clarity.
Can I still move house during lockdown?
Yes. Again, unlike the first lockdown, removal firms are still permitted to work. However, people outside of your household or support bubble cannot help with moving unless absolutely necessary. Removal companies may have changed their procedures to comply with social distancing and hygiene regulations, so check with your chosen company in advance about what needs to happen. Again, this applies to England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Can I still view properties during lockdown?
Estate agents will remain open for business, although it’s likely that physical offices will be closed. Physical property viewings can continue by appointment only, and similar guidelines to valuations apply regarding social distancing, hygiene handwashing and wearing masks. For more information on home moving during the pandemic, click here.
Will the lockdown delay my purchase?
Due to the restrictions in place, we will likely see delays, especially in booking valuations. Due to surveyors’ PPE requirements, they can’t complete as many physical valuations in a day as pre-pandemic. Additionally, it’s likely that some households may understandably be uncomfortable allowing inspectors into their home during this time, leading to delayed or rescheduled appointments.
If you’re concerned about meeting the stamp duty deadline, please know that all parties involved in getting your purchases to completion before 31st March 2021 will be doing their utmost to ensure this. If you’re yet to secure a mortgage for a property, we can help you find a lender likely to meet the deadline and put together your complete application, so outstanding documents do not hold up the process.
6th January 2021