Coronavirus disrupted the property market for a while, but now people can buy and sell houses again in England and Wales. And the market is busy. Estate agents are open, viewings are taking place and house sales are being completed.

Demand is greater than supply, possibly as a result of the lockdown, with some people looking for more living space and a garden as they expect to spend more time at home. Added to this, until April 2021, there is no stamp duty payable on homes up to a value of £500,000. For many, now is a good time to move.

Meeting in person when buying or selling

In terms of physically viewing properties, everyone buying or selling their home in England and Wales should follow the social distancing rules in place in their local area. Speak to your estate agent. And, for the latest government advice and social distancing guidelines, visit GOV.UK.

If you are allowed to go ahead with the viewing of a property, remember: Hands, face, space!

In most cases, meetings with legal advisers and estate agents can take place over the phone or online. But there may be times when you will need to meet in person. For example, you will need to have legal documents witnessed. Always ask your legal adviser for guidance about this. It may be possible to have documents witnessed maintaining a safe social distance from others outside or on a video call.

Everyone should do what they can to help stop the spread of the virus and follow the latest social distancing guidelines.

Things to keep in mind when moving home

  • Do as much as you can online.
  • Have first viewings online (virtual viewing).
  • Leave your property when others come to view it. Ensure a representative of your agent is present, and instruct them to follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Clean your property before viewings.
  • Open windows.
  • Deep clean your property before moving out.

Bear in mind that things may take some time yet to return to normal. Everyone should be flexible. Be prepared for delays.

For example, someone involved in your house chain could get Covid-19 symptoms and need to self-isolate. This could slow down the process if their move date has to be changed as a result.

In extreme circumstances, the Government could also decide to completely ban home moves for a time to slow the spread of the virus.

Be flexible

If a legal adviser is handling your move, they should make sure dates in contracts are as flexible as possible – to allow for disruption caused by the pandemic.

There are things you can do in advance to help your move go more smoothly. So, if your purchase is on hold, preparing now may speed up your move in the future.

More help

Help is also available from the Home Owners Aliance, legal advisers, and GOV.UK.

For tips on buying and selling your home, check the Government’s guides: How to buy a home and How to sell a home.

Good to know

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The information here is independent and just the facts. We're not trying to sell you anything.

We just tell you about things that are good to know to help you make better choices about legal issues and lawyers.

About Legal Choices

Last updated on 7 October 2020 to reflect current government guidance

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