BUYERS and renters can still move house from Thursday when England is plunged into a second national coronavirus lockdown.
The government has said the housing market in England will remain open throughout November’s shut down, as long as everyone follows the Covid secure rules.
It’s a welcome relief for buyers hoping to cash in on the Chancellor’s stamp duty holiday who will be able to carry on with plans to move home.
Estate and letting agents are allowed to remain open during lockdown and house viewings can also continue.
Getting help from a removal firm is still permitted too, while visiting show homes and developer sales offices are also able to go-ahead.
The same rules apply to renters, who can also make enquiries with letting agents and landlords, as well as view properties throughout lockdown.
What help is out there for first-time buyers?
GETTING on the property ladder can feel like a daunting task but there are schemes out there to help first-time buyers have their own home.
Help to Buy Isa – It’s a tax-free savings account where for every £200 you save, the Government will add an extra £50. But there’s a maximum limit of £3,000 which is paid to your solicitor when you move. These accounts have now closed to new applicants but those who already hold one have until November 2029 to use it.
Help to Buy equity loan – The Government will lend you up to 20% of the home’s value – or 40% in London – after you’ve put down a 5% deposit. The loan is on top of a normal mortgage but it can only be used to buy a new build property.
Lifetime Isa – This is another Government scheme that gives anyone aged 18 to 39 the chance to save tax-free and get a bonus of up to £32,000 towards their first home. You can save up to £4,000 a year and the Government will add 25% on top.
Shared ownership – Co-owning with a housing association means you can buy a part of the property and pay rent on the remaining amount. You can buy anything from 25% to 75% of the property but you’re restricted to specific ones.
“First dibs” in London – London Mayor Sadiq Khan is working on a scheme that will restrict sales of all new-build homes in the capital up to £350,000 to UK buyers for three months before any overseas marketing can take place.
Starter Home Initiative – A Government scheme that will see 200,000 new-build homes in England sold to first-time buyers with a 20% discount by 2020. To receive updates on the progress of these homes you can register your interest on the Starter Homes website.
But buyers, sellers and agents will have to follow a strict set of rules in order to limit the spread of Covid-19.
These include wearing a face mask when inside a letting agent branch or in someone else’s home, regular hand washing and avoid touching things unnecessarily.
Only two households should be in the property at the same time for a viewing, including the agent.
One buyer should wait outside the property while the other person views it if buyers are from separate households.
Sellers are also advised to vacate the property during viewings, and open all doors and windows open to keep good ventilation.
Everyone will need to abide by social distancing measures, staying at least 2 metres apart when possible, or 1 metre when it’s not.
Some property agents may ask you to take extra safety measures, such as wearing gloves or foot coverings.
Viewings should not take place if anyone involved, shows symptoms of Covid-19 or is self-isolating.
Virtual viewings can continue as normal, although some experts warn against making an offer on a property you’ve not seen in person.
Housing Minister Robert Jenrick said: “Everyone should continue to play their part in reducing the spread of the virus by following the current guidance.”
House moves in Wales are only allowed to go ahead during the two week firebreak lockdown if they can’t be postponed.
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Viewings can’t take place until the devolved lockdown ends on November 9, and high street agents are currently not allowed to open.
In Northern Ireland moving home is permitted but viewings are limited to members of the same household.
Moving home is allowed in all five levels of Scotland’s circuit breaker lockdown – providing it can be carried out safely.