House moves to restart from today

Home moves and viewings in England have been given the green light to restart from today.

Estate agents can now open and conveyancers can restart business, though they have been told to still adhere to social distancing rules.

Buyers and renters were told to delay moving in March.

Housing minister Robert Jenrick said: “I am announcing new guidelines to allow the housing market to resume.

“Our clear plan will enable people to move home safely, covering each aspect of the sales and letting process from viewings to removals.

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

The government said more than 450,000 buyers and renters have been unable to progress their move plans since March.

The UK’s COVID-19 death count currently sits at an alarming 32,692, following 627 deaths being recorded on Monday.

Miles Robinson, head of mortgages at online mortgage broker Trussle, said: “Social distancing measures implemented in March resulted in an end to physical valuations, essentially pressing pause on the homeownership journey.

“However, today’s news has changed this. Reallowing surveyors to enter homes as long as a distance of two metres is maintained means that physical valuations can get going again. Some lenders such as HSBC have already confirmed that valuations are starting to be booked in.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen desktop valuations acting as a stop gap in an attempt to keep surveys happening. A high proportion of those desktop valuations have only been for those with a loan-to-value of less than 75%.

“Additionally, some properties require a physical valuation. These include those in flood risk areas, those with previous adverse valuations, and some new build properties.

“While surveyors can now enter the home, it’s important to stress that visits are still only advised when absolutely essential. With a high proportion of the UK watching their finances more closely, we may see today’s announcement boost the remortgage market further.”

Tom Mundy, chief operating officer, Goodlord, said: “It’s a huge relief to know that property viewings and moves will be permitted once more from this week.

“The whole industry has been on hold, with demand in the rental market building up as a result, meaning this news will be music to the ears of letting agents and tenants.

“Our Lettings Activity Tracker showed a steady increase in market activity during the first week of May, demonstrating that some of that pent up demand was already beginning to leak out. This announcement therefore comes at the right time.”

He added: “Some important questions remain, however, about how we ensure the safety of everyone concerned as we get the industry moving again.

“We very much hope the government releases more detailed advice around social distancing and how to protect tenants, prospective tenants, and agents – particularly when it comes to viewings.

“In the meantime, everyone in the industry must use a common sense approach to make things as safe as possible and to offer digital options for all parties wherever practicable.”