Can I move home now?

curly woman with boxes

Am I allowed to move house?

In England at least, the property market has been released from some elements of the lockdown. You can't visit your granny or other relatives, but you can get back to viewing and moving houses - go figure! For now, at least, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland remain in lockdown.

But even in England, strict guidelines are in place covering all aspects of the housing market.

How will it work?

Viewings will initially be virtual, online viewings. These are much more common, and the quality is improving almost weekly.

When either prospective buyers or tenants wish to inspect a property for real, government guidance, only one household can be shown around at a time. So that means no return for open houses anytime soon.

Viewers should minimise contact with doors and surfaces, and agents or owners should be wiping things down after each visit. Washing facilities can be offered, but if I were you, I'd bring my own hand sanitiser and gloves.

Owners and/or residents should ideally leave the property during viewings and agents should maintain social distancing, i.e. 2 meters or more. Agents won't, for the time being, be able to drive you to and from viewings either.

But if anyone involved - including the current occupants - are symptomatic, self-isolating, or shielding, then viewings should not take place, say the government guidelines.

Can I move in with someone?

It may not be as romantic as this couple in Verona, Italy, but you may have put on hold plans to move in with a partner. If the partner is currently elsewhere, it means two households are getting together. But the government says this is now permitted, as long as no-one in either home is showing symptoms.

Am I going to be shifting my own boxes?

Nope, as I recently said, removals firms can operate albeit with some restrictions. Clean your belongings before asking the packers to handle them, keep doors open and offer washing facilities but no refreshments to them.

You can also now send in surveyors, builders and so on, before making an offer. As with the estate agents and removal teams, they will have to practise social distancing as well.

What about mortgages?

Mortgage lenders were by-and-large, honouring any offers made for three months. It would be a good idea, however, to check your offer is still valid.

If you haven't got a Decision in Principle yet, get moving! Get your finances in order and then chat to an all-market broker to see what is available to you.

As it's likely to get busy with people trying to make up lost time, make sure you've got your solicitor or conveyancer ready and waiting too.

And will we see a house price dip or crash?

How long is a piece of string? Many think prices will fall sharply (but bounce quickly). This is possible, and while uncertainty surrounds people's jobs and the economy, many (first-time) buyers will sit on the sidelines. 

But unless sellers need to sell, they are likely to sit things out too. As with the Mexican stand-off we witness during three years of Brexit uncertainty, the market may stagnate, but I don't see a big crash (like 2008) coming.

The old saying goes "the only wrong time to buy property is tomorrow". I'd qualify that by saying the only wrong time to buy your home is tomorrow. And only buy it if it is priced reasonably and you can afford the repayments associated with it.

Most people are looking to buy to get their foot on the ladder, make a home for their family or move because of work. If more of us looked at housing as a fundamental necessity instead of a speculative investment, there'd be less volatility in the market!

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