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Lockdown and the property market rules – all you need to know

Can I move home during lockdown? Your property market questions answered.

The announcement of a new coronavirus lockdown in England, which could last at least until the middle of February, has once again forced us to stay in our homes. But unlike the lockdown in the spring of 2020, this latest raft of restrictions doesn’t mean you can’t move home.

The property market is open for business and this is great news if you’re looking to buy, sell or rent. But what can you actually do during the lockdown when it comes to property? We’re answering some of your questions here…

Am I able to view properties to buy or rent in lockdown?

As the property market is remaining open during the latest lockdown, viewings of properties to rent or buy can still take place.

However, at CJ Hole, we’re offering you virtual viewings where possible as we look to reduce social contact and keep you safe. For viewings in person, we’ll be ensuring strict social distancing and hygiene rules are followed.

What measures are in place to keep us safe during viewings?

Firstly, agents should be offering a virtual viewing as a first option if you’re looking to rent or buy a property. If virtual viewings aren’t possible, in-person viewings are allowed and, in order to ensure everyone is safe, we are:

• Limiting property viewings to two members of the same household

• Undertaking cleaning of surfaces before and after viewings

• Maintaining social distancing where possible during viewings

• Providing hand sanitiser or hand washing facilities during viewings

• Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

At CJ Hole, we’re also conducting our market appraisals via video call where possible to reduce social contact even further.

I’m selling my home, but will the lockdown affect the sale?

Property sales, unfortunately, do sometimes fall through – even in normal times. The latest lockdown, however, shouldn’t have too much of a direct effect on those of you selling properties. Solicitors and conveyancers are working from home, as they have been for much, if not all, of the pandemic, while staff at mortgage lenders and the local authority are in place to continue working on transactions.

The pandemic has caused some delays to aspects of the sales process, like local searches, but most sales are completing, hitch-free, all of the time.

• More than 115,000 sales were recorded in November 2020 – 19.3% more than in November 2019, according to HMRC

• The 12 months of 2020 saw 9% more sales agreed than 2019, according to Zoopla

• More than 104,000 mortgages were approved in November 2020 – the highest number since August 2007, reported the Bank of England

• Zoopla reported 40% more demand for property in 2020 than the previous year – despite the spring lockdown

Can I move during lockdown if I’m buying a new property?

Moving home is permitted during the lockdown, while estate agents, conveyancers and mortgage lenders are helping to push through property purchases while also staying safe. If you’re set to move during the lockdown period, you can also book a removals company and their staff can still enter properties – as long as they follow guidance on social distancing and hygiene.

Valuations for lenders can also still be carried out alongside your own survey, as long as those undertaking the work follow the same guidance.

Can I start a new tenancy during lockdown?

Property viewings are allowed, so if you’re looking to find a new rental property during lockdown, you can do so. You should be offered a virtual viewing first, if possible, and if you attend a viewing in person, social distancing and hygiene rules must be in place and followed by the landlord or letting agent.

Our top priority at CJ Hole is helping to ensure your safety and you can find out more about the steps we’re taking during rental property viewings here.

I’m a landlord, but can I still rent out my property to new tenants in lockdown?

New tenancies are permitted during lockdown, but, as always, you or your letting agent should adhere to rules on social distancing and hygiene when it comes to viewings. Virtual viewings should also be offered to prospective tenants initially and where possible.

Ideally, your rental property should be vacant if a viewing is being carried out in person.

Landlords and their letting agents can also:

• Welcome trades into a rental property as long as it is safe to do so and Covid-19 safety guidance is followed

• Bring in a cleaner between tenancies and undertake check-in / check-out inventories while taking steps to limit social interaction

• Hold viewings of rental properties while sticking to rules on hygiene and social distancing, offering virtual viewings where possible

Will there be an extension to the stamp duty holiday?

July 2020 saw the announcement of a stamp duty ‘holiday’ in England.

The changes mean that, currently, buyers pay no stamp duty on the first £500,000 of a property’s purchase price, although second home buyers and landlords must still pay a 3% surcharge.

The £500,000 stamp duty threshold is due to revert back to the previous figure of £125,000 from April 1, however, alongside the first-time buyer exemption figure of £300,000. There have been calls for an extension to the stamp duty ‘holiday’ beyond March 31 due to the new lockdown as buyers race to beat the deadline.

Is the property market performing well during the lockdown?

With the property sector remaining open and the stamp duty deadline moving ever closer, the market is continuing its strong bounce-back from restrictions last spring. The first lockdown saw the property market shut down, alongside almost everything else in the UK.

But once it reopened in May, the stamp duty ‘holiday’ and strong demand from buyers saw the market remain buoyant throughout the rest of 2020 and into 2021.

• UK property prices grew by 7.5% in 2020, according to Nationwide

• 40,000 sales were agreed between May 13, when the market reopened after the first lockdown, and June 13

• Rightmove recorded its busiest day since September on January 4, 2021 – with six million visits in one day

• Visits to Rightmove in December 2020 were 57% higher than in December 2019, while Boxing Day saw a 54% year-on-year rise in visitors

The market is still very active and Rightmove’s prediction of 4% price growth suggests the start of 2021 will remain busy for property transactions as buyers aim to complete purchases before the stamp duty deadline.

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