The government has urged all members of the public who are involved in home moving to “adapt and be flexible” amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Whilst the government said there was “no need” to pull out of transactions, it urged the public to ensure that stay-at-home and social distancing guidelines are still adhered to.
Those moving into vacant properties can continue with their transaction, but for those moving into occupied residencies, the government has encouraged all parties to “amicably agree alternative dates to move, for a time when it is likely that stay-at-home measures against coronavirus will no longer be in place”.
In the new emergency enforcement powers that the police have been given, there is an exemption for critical home moves, in the event that a new date is unable to be agreed.
For those who are thinking about selling, the government has advised that only information is gathered at this period. It encouraged potential sellers to speak to estate agents over the phone to receive advice about the local property market, but advised agents “will not be able to start actively marketing your home in the usual manner”.
In its guidance for estate agents, the government said: “Agents should work with their clients and other agents to broker a new date to move where sales are due to complete on occupied properties in the current period where emergency measures are in place to fight coronavirus.
“Agents should prioritise support for anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, and those they are in chain with, to agree a new date.”
It added: “Agents should continue to progress sales where this can be done whilst following guidance to stay at home and away from others.
“Agents should advise clients to be patient and not to exchange contracts unless the contracts have explicit terms to manage the timing risks presented by the virus.”
Commenting on the measures, founder and CEO of GetAgent.co.uk, Colby Short, said: “This may only be a temporary measure but for those who had already tackled the protracted process of selling only to see their sale or purchase sidelined on the home stretch, it will be a worrying few months.
“Historic data shows the market could see some 290,000 transactions at risk although, given the early signs of market buoyancy since the election, this could well be in excess of 300,000.”
He added: “Our advice would be to keep calm, be patient and stick with it. This is a development that impacts both buyer and seller so hopefully, those property sales that have already been agreed should still materialise once normality returns; bringing a huge boost to transactions in the third and fourth quarters of the year.
“It is now down to the nation’s estate agents to demonstrate their worth by acting as the lynchpin between both buyers and sellers to keep them as informed as possible via any and all channels of communication.”