Published: 12/01/2021If you’d been waiting until the new year to put your moving plans into action, you could be forgiven for wondering whether to put them back on hold. But think again! The property market is buzzing right now and, with the right Covid-secure safety procedures in place, it’s a great time to move.
Let’s start by saying that Lockdown 3 is very different from the first lockdown of March 2020. This year, the housing market has been allowed to remain open, and not just because of its economic importance: our wellbeing is equally vital, and life doesn’t simply stop. (You need only look at children and how they’ve continued to grow, regardless of a national lockdown and global pandemic.)
With clear government guidelines in place around every aspect of buying and selling a home, most businesses connected with the housing market have adapted to keep people moving. Estate agents, photographers, energy assessors, conveyancers, lenders and removals companies have all found ways to operate safely and efficiently to help you get to where you want to go.
So this article is about the current realities of getting your move in place. From putting your home on the market and managing viewings to the legal process and moving day itself, you’ll be pleased to know that you can capture the market’s momentum and move safely and swiftly in lockdown.
VALUING YOUR HOME
If you are looking to move soon, we can meet you in your home to provide a full market appraisal around saleability, presentation and setting an asking price. If working from home and home-schooling means you’re fuller than usual, we can either fix a time when fewer people are present or find a way to minimise contact during our visit.
The same arrangements apply to organising photography, floor plans and Energy Performance Certificates. With restrictions in place around the number of households present at any one time, we’ll need to arrange these visits separately rather than simultaneously. Nonetheless, we can still get your home on the market in roughly the same timescale as usual.
If you’re not thinking about moving just yet but would like some advice on the market value of your home, we can arrange an appraisal by video to give you an idea of asking price, nearby sales and what to have in place for when you’re ready to go.
One of the more positive aspects of lockdown is how viewing restrictions have introduced further requirements to filter serious interest from casual enquiries.
We check that anyone wishing to view your home is in a position to move right now, from confirming that finances are in place to checking that chains are complete where someone is selling. You can be sure that every viewer will be a ready, willing and able purchaser.
Although in-person viewings are allowed, we have a duty to minimise the number of people from different households in your home at any one time, so open days are not allowed, and all viewings must be by appointment.
We’re keen to minimise the disruption to any arrangements you have in place around working from home or home-schooling, and we can incorporate no-go times into viewing schedules. And if you have a neighbour in your bubble, can you decamp there while we’re showing people around?
Right now, the market is on your side with high levels of enthusiasm and enquiries. It may seem remarkable, but lockdown has driven the level of activity upwards because moving home is one of the few areas of life to remain open.
You can capitalise on the moment with precision pricing, perfect presentation and gathering the information a buyer might want to see before submitting an offer, so dig out any guarantees and certificates along with recent utility bills.
Although in-person meetings might look very different, we are available by email, video and phone to speak to buyers and answer their questions around timescales, fixtures, fittings and price. In short, you can receive, negotiate, accept or refuse offers just as usual.
LEGAL & LENDING
To minimise potential delays after accepting an offer, start every process as soon as you can to make the most of the time your home is for sale.
Although solicitors have been mostly unaffected in their internal operations, it pays to instruct one as soon as you put your property on the market. They can help you start collating paperwork now in readiness for when you agree a sale.
Mortgage application times were severely affected after the first lockdown, so if you plan to take a mortgage on your next home, get your loan agreed in principle now. Lenders are catching up on the backlog from the summer and autumn boom, but it’s wise to move the process forward as soon as you can.
Before we get into the logistics of what you can and can’t do on moving day itself, we must remind you to pack the kettle, cups and teabags last! Don’t get stuck without essential refreshments, and remember you can only supply them to your household and bubble (and not your removals team).
Now is a sensible time to start exploring removals firms to identify the ones providing everything you need. Some companies have withdrawn their packing services, while others have limits on the number of people allowed from your household while their teams are loading and unloading your belongings.
If you plan to do your own packing and moving, don’t forget you can only ask your household and bubble to help: unfortunately, you can’t invite a party of friends and family to wrap your plates and carry your furniture. To break the packing process down into manageable pieces, begin as soon as you know a completion date.
SWIFT, SAFE AND SURE
Lockdown needn’t get in your way if you are looking to sell your home soon. The property industry has learned a lot since coronavirus entered our vocabulary, and we’ve become quite adept in keeping everyone safe and moving with minimal inconvenience.
If you’re looking to move in 2021, we’d love to be a part of making it happen. Simply contact our sales teams at Berkhamsted or Tring.
Berkhamsted office: 01442 863000
Tring office: 01442 820420