for sale boards

NOTE: this has now been superseded by new advice

Government announced on 13 May that people could, once again, move house, provided they followed guidance on keeping safe. The announcement means that limited viewings can once again be conducted, although virtual sales are to be encouraged.

Government has issued advice recommending that people do not move house while the emergency stay at home measures are in place in order to limit the spread of Coronavirus. The advice is meant for renters and buyers.

This comes as banks call for the entire housing market to be suspended for the duration of the crisis, although confirmation of this happening does not seem to have been released, despite conflicting reports. However, with surveyors unable to visit properties, the market has effectively stalled naturally.

The advice not to move calls for a flexible approach by stakeholders and not for people to pull out of transactions, saying that when a property is occupied, “we encourage all parties to do all they can to amicably agree alternative dates to move, for a time when it is likely that stay-at-home measures against coronavirus (COVID-19) will no longer be in place.”

While there is an exemption in place for critical home moves, Government is urging people to do all they can to avoid this scenario.

Consequently it has put the following measures in place:

  1. Issuing guidance, developed with Public Health England, to home buyers and those involved in the selling and moving process.
  2. Agreeing with banks that mortgage offers should be extended where delay to completions takes place in order to prioritise safety.
  3. Working with conveyancers to develop a standard legal process for moving completion dates.

In the case of anyone self isolating or showing symptoms then moving house should categorically not be an option.

To support customers who have already exchanged contracts for house purchases and set dates for completion, UK Finance has confirmed that all mortgage lenders are working towards finding ways for customers to extend their mortgage offers by three months, to delay moving.

However, if customer’s circumstances change during this process or the continuation of the sale would lead to financial hardship then lenders are encouraged to work with customers to help them manage the situation.

The government advice has targeted advice for a range of housing sale professionals, including estate agents, conveyancers, surveyors and removal companies.

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