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Changes to tier system ‘won’t affect moving process’


Only barriers to home sale process remain self-isolation or quarantine

Amendments to the three-tier system have left anxious homeowners wondering if they will have to postpone their house moves until the Government signals an end to the restrictions imposed to combat the spread of COVID-19.

However, the good news is that the housing market in England will continue to operate as normal, irrespective of what level tier you are living in or moving to – as long as you are not in quarantine or self-isolating.

That also means businesses crucial to the industry can continue to operate, providing they observe the strict health and safety rules too.

Regardless of where you are in the chain, the bottom line is to heed the Government’s initial advice to wash your hands regularly, with soap, for at least 20 seconds; to cover your face, particularly when in an enclosed space with people you don’t normally meet and where social distancing is difficult; and stay at least one metre apart.

Industry experts have also issued their own guidelines to try to ensure an already-fraught period does not become even more stressful.

They advise virtual viewings if available which will not only reduce the number of visits agents have to make – thereby minimising the spread of germs – but also to give you, the potential buyer, a better idea of whether the house is worth seeing.

If you do decide to take the next step, wear a facemask, avoid touching surfaces and wash your hands with sanitiser before and after the visit. As viewings are by appointment only, there shouldn’t be more than two households in the property at any time, thereby ruling out ‘open houses’.

Homeowners have also been advised to open all internal doors before the visit, and then disinfect all surfaces afterwards.

Offers can be made and accepted as normal, but it is probable the conveyancing procedure will be slower than usual because of either a build-up in cases caused by the relaxation of Stamp Duty until the end of March, or solicitors and agents are operating at limited capacity.

The Government has asked for flexibility on both sides, particularly if one of the parties involved shows COVID-like symptoms or has to self-isolate, and it may be best to ask your legal representatives to make provisions for postponements in contracts.

As for the moving process itself, removal firms are able to carry out the work, again paying heed to the basic health and safety guidelines. Therefore, try to do the bulk of packing yourself, giving possessions a spray or wipe with disinfectant before they are handled by other people.

And when the removals team are about, try to maintain distance and wash your hands regularly.

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