Can I move house during lockdown? Rules on viewings and sales in England and how house prices have been impacted

The government are hoping to reinvigorate a struggling property market with the easing of social distancing rules

It is now possible to view property in the UK (Shutterstock)

Viewing property and visiting estate agents are among the activities considered a valid reason to leave your home under new lockdown rules in England.

The changes came into effect on May 13 as part of a wider push to restart the UK’s economy.

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What restrictions have the government lifted?

So long as social distancing rules are adhered to buyers and sellers in England can now visit estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes.

It is also possible view residential properties to look for a property to buy or rent.

House owners can also move property now and prepare a residential property to move in.

Residential property can also be visited to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property

What are the rules on viewing property?

Prior to the loosening of rules it was possible to view property “virtually”, but now it is possible to view property to purchase or rent, so long as a buyer is seriously interested in making a purchase.

People wanting to sell their home will need to make sure they are out of their property while viewings take place and buyers and sellers should expect to delay moves if someone involved gets Covid-19.

To ensure that a house viewing is a safe as possible the government advises taking the following steps before a viewing:

- The seller should open all internal doors and allow access to handwashing facilities

- Sellers are also encouraged to vacate their property during the viewing

- All parties involved in the viewing should wash their hands and avoid touching surfaces

- Estate agents should follow social distancing rules whenever possible

Can house surveys take place?

If you are buying a house during lockdown, your surveyor can now undertake a survey of the property.

In a similar way to viewings, these should only take place by appointment, and should not take place if a member of the household is displaying coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating.

When it comes to actually moving, removal firms are allowed to operate, again subject to social distancing measures.

Movers are advised to contact removal services as early as possible, and to do as much as the packing yourself if possible to minimise risk of Covid-19 spreading.

How has the market reacted to coronavirus and the loosening of lockdown measures?

Property professionals welcomed the moves, saying they could help to release some of the "pent-up demand" in the market, which has ground to a halt in recent weeks.

According to property website Zoopla, around 373,000 property transactions across the UK, with a total value of £82bn, have been put on hold due to lockdown measures.

Some lenders also recently withdrew low-deposit mortgages from the market amid difficulties in valuing homes during the lockdown, although some new deals have come on to the market since.

In a joint statement, David Cox, chief executive of ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) Propertymark and Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents) Propertymark, said: "It's great news for consumers and the industry that the housing market is being opened up and people can let, rent, buy and sell properties again.

"The new regulations provide clarity to agents and will allow them to deal with pent-up demand from consumers."

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the Government's plan "will enable people to move home safely, covering each aspect of the sales and letting process from viewings to removals".

"Our step-by-step plan is based on the latest guidance to ensure the safety and protection of everyone involved.

"This critical industry can now safely move forward, and those waiting patiently to move can now do so."