If you have been waiting to move, then the good news is that it is once again possible to buy and sell a home: you can now visit estate agents, view homes in person where needed, and use a removal firm to help you on your way.
In fact, to encourage people back into the housing market, the government has announced a holiday on stamp duty on the first £500,000 of all property sales in England and Northern Ireland, which will run until next March.
Of course, moving home is hard work at the best of times. But right now, there are a few extra things to have in mind to ensure your move is completed safely and securely.
Here’s a run down of what to expect and the government’s guidance currently in place for the UK.
Home searches and viewings
Once you’ve made the decision to move, you can put your home on the market and arrange for estate agents to visit and take photos or videos of your home.
Meanwhile, you can start your own property hunt. Here are some things to consider:
- Try and do most of your property searching online, including initial viewings, taking advantage of the online video tours offered by many estate agents.
- Only physically view properties – or plots of land and show homes, if you’re buying a new-build – that are at the top of your shortlist and are serious contenders that you could see yourself buying. The rules allow for an agent to accompany you on your viewing.
- If you do go and look around a home, then avoid touching surfaces, wash your hands regularly, and bring your own hand sanitiser. Only go with people from your household who really need to be there. If that includes small children, then try to keep them from touching any surfaces.
- If you’re having viewings at your own home, open all internal doors ahead of time and ensure the viewer will have access to hand washing facilities and, ideally, separate towels or paper towels. Try and ensure you are out of the house while the viewing takes place. Then, afterwards, clean surfaces, such as door handles.
Making offers and getting surveys
If you find the home of your dreams, you can make an offer as normal.
If your offer is agreed, then you - or a tradesperson - can arrange another visit to measure up. But bear in mind that you should follow the same guidelines as for viewings.
The same goes for having a survey, which should be arranged by appointment only. If your home is being surveyed, try to minimise contact with the surveyor, for example by staying in another room while they are inspecting your home.
You might just need a bit more patience than normal when buying or selling, as there could be delays. The government is encouraging as much flexibility as possible, and suggests you talk to your legal adviser to ensure any contract you enter into has flexibility to allow the purchase to be delayed if need be. The Law Society has echoed this, suggesting that conveyancers, buyers and sellers will need to remain as flexible as possible.
Moving your belongings
On the day of your move, you can use a removal firm if you need to. It’s worth contacting them as early as possible before your moving day.
Then, when the day draws near, try and do as much of the packing yourself as possible. Also, allow extra time to clean your belongings before the removal firm handles them.
When the removers are in your home, keep internal doors open and minimise your contact with them. For hygiene reasons, you’ll have to politely abstain from the traditional offer of a cup of tea or coffee, but do ensure they have somewhere they can wash their hands.
Once you’re in your new property and everything is clean and unpacked, then you can relax and enjoy your new life in your new home.