Property move or purchase during the pandemic - COVID-19 - Hub spot News Property move or purchase during the pandemic - COVID-19
Property move or purchase during the pandemic – COVID-19

Property move or purchase during the pandemic – COVID-19

It may not seem like a wise decision at this time, but a great deal has been learned from the experiences of the lockdowns. Since the housing market remained open during the second lockdown, property purchases and moves continued.

Estate and letting agents, including the Buckingham estate agents, kept and continue to keep busy. Perhaps surprisingly, there are some advantages of buying/renting property or moving house during the pandemic.

Of course, strict adherence to government regulations needs to be maintained. Even though hugging loved ones is now allowed and face masks not required in secondary schools, it is still recommended that social distancing, wearing face masks, and health hygiene be continued.

Viewings and Surveys:   With virtual viewings available, a prospective buyer should use this facility to avoid interaction in a physical viewing. Agents and surveyors are now geared to provide every aspect of the property with virtual viewing – even to international buyers.

This has proved to be extremely beneficial, especially in the case of occupied homes or open house viewings where multiple households are involved, and physical viewing is not possible.

In the case of onsite viewings, besides wearing face masks, care should be taken to avoid contact with surfaces and hand sanitisers should be carried at all times. Once a personal viewing is over, the owner should ensure that all door handles and other items which the viewer has come in contact with are cleaned properly with sanitizers.

Moving:   For the most protection, the maximum amount of packing should be done by the household itself. If not possible, removal firms are available. They can be asked to provide extra precautionary measures to avoid the risk of infection.

If estate agents recommend the removal firm, they can be requested to ensure these precautionary measures are taken. The movable items, where possible, should be cleaned thoroughly before others handle them.

Internal doors should remain open to avoid contact with the removal people. Access to separate washing facilities with disposable towels needs to be provided to the removers.

Clinically extremely vulnerable people should seek medical advice as to whether to commit or move at this time. In addition, they should inform their estate agent of their condition.

HMO (house in multiple occupations) moves are allowed. Still, extra precautions need to be taken in view of the additional risks involved.

Quarantine:  If there are any symptoms of Covid-19, no matter how mild or the person is tested positive for Covid-19, if hospitalization is not required, then self-isolation should be immediately put in place, with quarantine for at least ten full days.

If there is a commitment to move home during this time, then a delay should be sought until the whole household is out of the quarantine period. Arrangements should be made to delay the move between the parties involved amicably.

Legality:  Legal advice is recommended for drawing up contracts and agreements during the pandemic. All people involved need to be flexible, as it may be necessary to pause transactions if one of the parties falls prey to Covid-19 and has to be hospitalised or self-isolated.

For example, moving to a home where a person has Covid-19 may have to be delayed. The contracts should include explicit terms to allow such flexibility. This includes new builds where the construction is in progress when workers fall ill with Covid-19.

Repairs and Maintenance: Repairs and such maintenance checks for gas and electrical safety should be carried out, where possible, in between the vacation of a property and a new owner/tenant moving in.

If not possible, then visits should be done by appointment and physical contact minimised by the residents staying in another room while the work is going on.

Right to Buy:  This scheme allows a tenant to buy his/her home at a lower price than market value due to a discount available because of the length of time spent as a tenant. However, much consideration needs to be given before this decision is made. Issues have to be looked into regarding the property valuation, documentation, measures for fraud prevention, etc.

Benefits to Buyers:   There are many advantages for prospective buyers at this time.

  • The SDLT holiday extension is up to the end of June 2021, with a phase-out process until the end of September 2021.
  • The 95% LTV mortgage scheme and other competitive mortgage offers.
  • Distressed real estate becoming available at discounted prices far below market value.
  • Low interest rates allow first-time buyers to obtain reasonable mortgages and professional investors to remortgage and invest in new properties.
  • Supply vs Demand: With online home working, the demand for more spacious and comfortable accommodation has increased and far exceeds the supply, giving investors the chance to put such accommodation on the market.

Conclusion:  The property market has remained relatively stable despite the effects of the pandemic. There is a reduced risk in investing in real estate now compared with other portfolios. The property value usually increases, ensuring a profitable ROI (return on investment).

The choice of a professional real estate agent is important, especially one who demonstrates an effective response to the pandemic crisis. By various means of reducing risk transmission of Covid-19, the agent’s expertise is essential in ensuring a smooth sale or moving transaction.

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