15 May 2020 by Melanie Carroll

Housing market restart – on the move again

The Secretary of State for Housing has announced a ‘restart’ of the housing market and has provided detailed guidance not only to support the industry, but boost the economy as whole.
What does this mean for those wanting to move home… can it be done?

In a word… yes! The revised guidance provides advice and assistance to the key stakeholders and for the significant steps in the process as follows:-

  • Estate Agents and new build sales – Agents can now re-open their offices, although it is strongly recommended that visits are ‘by appointment only’.  They can also carry out viewings subject to guidelines around social distancing, the wearing of face masks and cleaning.  It is expected that ‘virtual viewings’ launched during the lockdown will continue for some time to come.  ‘Open house’ initiatives are to be avoided, as are speculative viewings.
  • Surveyors – Surveyors are now able to visit properties to carry out surveys, as well as using online resources, subject to adherence to the guidelines surrounding social distancing and cleaning.
  • Property lawyers – Lawyers have been able to work remotely during lockdown and are being encouraged to continue in this way if possible.  However, meetings can take place subject to social distancing and hygiene requirements if necessary.  In particular, lawyers must advise clients as to the practical issues surrounding moving during the pandemic and ensure that clients are protected in the documents produced.
  • Removers – Removers can operate once again subject to the safeguards mentioned above. There are special provisions relating to setting up a ‘buddy’ system for the removal of bulky items, along with refreshments and hand washing facilities.
It’s not ‘business as usual’, but it’s business nonetheless!

Head of Residential Real Estate, Melanie Carroll, said:-

This is a welcome announcement which recognises the pivotal role the property sector plays in the economy as a whole.  The safeguards in place regarding social distancing will allow moves to proceed without lives being put at risk.  Whilst life continues to be uncertain and unpredictable, it is clear that there is pent up demand and I remain optimistic that there will be a ‘bounce back’.”

There are also proposed planning changes to boost construction and assist with new developments as follows:-

  • Relaxation of the rules relating to the publicising of planning applications, with a greater focus on the use of social media
  • Provide greater flexibility to smaller developers to defer community infrastructure levy payments
  • Permit extended construction site working hours

Head of New Build Real Estate, Amie Mackay, commented:-

Any measures to mobilise the construction industry and modernise the planning process are welcome, but they must be tempered with a note of caution to ensure that the public are protected.  For instance, extended working hours could have a disruptive impact on residents confined to their homes for the foreseeable.  I’m keen to see what comes next…”

There are also similar provisions in place for the letting market. However, tenanted properties could be an issue.  Head of Real Estate Disputes, Yezdan Izzet, said:-

“It will be interesting to see over the coming weeks whether tenanted properties will remain affected.  I suspect so… The moratorium on tenant evictions will remain in place until at least 30th June 2020 and agents have commented that they will not be showing any tenanted properties until then.”

Whether you are looking to buy or sell an existing property, or new build, our real estate experts are here to help you stay alert, stay safe and get moved!

Please contact Melanie Carroll on +4420 7288 4798 or one of our other Residential Real Estate experts for advice and assistance.


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