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Everything you need to know about the property market during lockdown

Another year, but also another lockdown.

However, unlike the first coronavirus restrictions that were introduced last spring, this time the property market is open and able to do business – alongside all the guidance on keeping you safe. So, can you still move during the lockdown and will you be able to view properties?

We’ve got all the answers right here…

Can estate agents still do property viewings during lockdown?

Yes, we can.

However, where possible, agents should be offering buyers and renters a virtual viewing – which is what we’re doing here at Parkers. And for those viewings we do host in person, we’re ensuring everyone is safe by adhering to strict guidance on social distancing, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and hand hygiene.

What are the Covid-19 rules around property viewings?

If you’re keen to view a property, either to buy or to rent, your agent should offer you a virtual viewing initially.

If that isn’t possible, you can attend a viewing in person. At Parkers, 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)

We’re also conducting our market appraisals via video call to reduce social contact even further.

Should I be worried that lockdown will affect the sale of my home?

With the property market open and solicitors, lenders and estate agents all working, there’s no direct reason why the latest lockdown should impact the sale of your home.

However, sales do sometimes fall through, of course. And the pandemic has caused some delays to conveyancing processes like local searches in some cases. But solicitors are working from home and progressing transactions, supported by lenders and estate agents and many, many sales are going through in good time and without any issues.

• 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

I’m buying, but can I actually move during lockdown?

You can move home during lockdown but you should maintain social distancing and hygiene rules.

If you’re scheduled to move during the lockdown period, you can also book a removals company and their staff can enter your property – as long as they, and you, follow guidance on social distancing and hygiene. You can also have a survey on your new property as long as those undertaking the work follow the Covid-19 guidance to help limit the spread of the virus.

Can I rent a new property during lockdown?

New tenancies can commence during the latest lockdown, but all parties involved must make sure they’re abiding by social distancing regulations during viewings and when moving.

You should be offered a virtual viewing, if possible, and if you attend a property in person, social distancing and hygiene rules must be in place and followed by your letting agent or landlord. Our top priority at Parkers is helping to ensure you’re safe and you can find out more about the steps we’re taking during rental property viewings here.

Can I start a new tenancy during lockdown as a landlord?

You can let out your property to a new tenant during lockdown, but social distancing and hygiene practices must be in place during viewings.

You, or your letting agent, should also offer potential tenants a virtual viewing 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 coronavirus guidance is followed

• Use a cleaner between tenancies and undertake check-in / check-out inventories while taking steps to maintain social distancing

• Undertake viewings of rental properties while sticking to rules on hygiene and social distancing and offer virtual viewings where possible

Will the stamp duty holiday be extended?

England’s stamp duty ‘holiday’ is due to end on March 31, 2021.

Since July 2020, buyers in England have paid no stamp duty on the first £500,000 of a property’s purchase price, although landlords and buyers of second homes must still pay the 3% additional home surcharge. From April 1, however, the stamp duty threshold is set to return to its pre-July figures of £125,000 and £300,000 for first-time buyers.

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.

How has coronavirus affected the property market?

There’s certainly been a strong response from the property market since it reopened in May 2020 following the spring lockdown.

Strong buyer demand, paired with the stamp duty ‘holiday’, has sparked a buoyant market throughout last summer and autumn and into this winter.

• 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 is going to be a busy time for property transactions – despite the latest lockdown.

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