How can I get my house move back on track post-lockdown?

On 13th May the residential property market reopened with conveyancers, estate agents, surveyors and removal firms restarting their businesses. But you might be wondering - is this the right time to move house?

When lockdown began the UK housing market was approaching its peak time of year with Nationwide announcing a 3.7% growth in house prices.[1] It is hoped that this upward trend has been temporarily frozen during lockdown and that the measures implemented by the Government to protect businesses will lessen the impact on the housing market.

London estate agency, Benham and Reeves has reported high levels of traffic to property portal sites with increases in enquiries, viewings and sales since restrictions on house viewings were lifted. Property website Zoopla recorded an 88% increase in buyer enquiries,[2] and Rightmove had a 111% increase[3] in new sales listings on the day the market reopened.

Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, believes that changing working practices will directly impact the housing market. There may be a high demand for properties with large gardens and home offices, but the premium prices that were commanded by city properties could diminish.

If you are considering a house move it is important to know that every step of the process must be carried out under the Government’s social distancing and hygiene rules. We advise reading Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak[4] so you know what practical measures you will need to take.

What is the law surrounding conveyancing?

The Government and the Law Society have produced coronavirus guidance for conveyancers to follow.[5] The guidance is continually updated as the coronavirus situation changes. All professionals are expected to take adequate steps to meet health and safety requirements for all parties involved in a house move and must also follow the Government’s safer working guidance.[6]

Conveyancers must do as much as possible to conduct business remotely and should make sure their clients are aware of these practical changes. In circumstances where conveyancers do have to meet with clients they must adhere to the Government’s social distancing and hygiene guidelines.

Your residential property solicitor should make sure you understand that moving dates must be flexible at the moment. You will not be able to move into a home where somebody is self-isolating because they have symptoms of coronavirus. Contracts should not be exchanged unless provision has been made for this.

What should I do if I want to put my property on the market?

If you wish to put your property on the market you can go ahead and do so as normal.

Estate agents are allowed to visit your home to take photographs and make a valuation as long as they adhere to the Government’s social distancing and hygiene guidelines and nobody in your household is currently self-isolating with coronavirus symptoms.

You will need to be prepared to follow social distancing and hygiene measures when you have visitors. For example, when your home is surveyed you should minimise contact with the surveyor by staying in another room or the garden while they are carrying out their inspection. If you plan to use a removal company then you should do as much of your own packing as you can, and make sure you clean all items that will be handled by others.[7]

As usual, you can prepare for a sale by collating the documents you need to sell your property. For a list of documents read, How to Sell: A guide for people looking to sell a home in England and Wales published by the Ministry of Housing.[8]

My property is already on the market – should I go ahead?

As long as you are happy, there is no need to remove your property from the market.

If you are clinically vulnerable and shielding you might wish to seek medical advice to help you to decide whether or not to go ahead. Whatever you decide, make sure your residential property solicitor is aware of your circumstances so they can advise you accordingly.

If your property was valued pre-lockdown it is a good idea to have it revalued in case there has been a change. If the value of your home has declined, house prices are relative so it may be that any home you buy will also have decreased in value so it is important to research the market in your area.

The same applies to mortgages – check you are still eligible. According to the financial information group, Defaqto there has been a fall in the number of mortgages available since the lockdown.[9] This could be due to mortgage companies supporting those who have needed mortgage payment holidays as a result of the pandemic.

The way you planned to market your house is likely to have changed since the lockdown. If you were intending to hold an open house viewing day then this can no longer take place. You should also be prepared that people will want to conduct initial viewings of your property virtually.  

How will I be able to view other properties?

The Government is encouraging people to search for properties online and only to physically visit a property they are seriously interested in purchasing. Your estate agent will be able to advise you further.

If you are interested in buying a newly built property you will be still be able to visit the show home and plot but there will be a strict appointment system in place.

When you physically view a property you can only do so with members of your own household, and only if nobody is displaying coronavirus symptoms. You must avoid touching any surfaces and wash your hands regularly – it’s advisable to take your own hand sanitizer with you. When you view a property you should expect that internal doors are left open for you to minimize contact with surfaces and that handwashing facilities (with disposable towels) are provided so you can wash your hands when you arrive.[10]

Social distancing measures must be followed by everybody in line with Government health advice. The Government has advised home owners to leave their properties when they are being viewed (even if they only sit in the garden).

Try to keep all viewings short – less than 15 minutes.

What are the next steps if I want to buy a property during lockdown?

It is advisable to engage the services of a conveyancer as soon as you start your property search.

A smooth and quick conveyancing process has always been key to a successful property purchase. The longer conveyancing takes the more likely it is that the circumstances of another person in a property chain will alter. For example, a mortgage offer might expire or somebody might lose their job. Post-lockdown, speed and efficiency are more vital than ever.

Even before you find a property you can complete the initial paperwork such as proof of current address and identity. The paperwork involved in any house move can take weeks to process and if your conveyancer has the information straightaway they can carry out local searches. Some local authorities have a backlog of local searches due to lockdown and so it is sensible to start the process as soon as possible.

Your residential property solicitor will also be able to advise you from the outset about how to minimise risks associated with coronavirus so that the whole conveyancing process runs smoothly and safely.

Why choose QualitySolicitors?

Our residential property solicitors are successfully adapting to these unusual times and we continue to work hard to drive sales and purchases forward.

Client care remains at the core of our business. We hold appointments by email, video call and over the telephone and regularly communicate with each client to update them on the progress of their transaction.

If you are considering a house move during this time, please contact us today for conveyancing advice 08082747557


[1] PropertyWire, House price growth rose to 3.7% in April,

[2] City A. M., UK house prices tumble at fastest rate since 2009 amid crisis,

[3] This is Money, Should you make your move?

[4] Gov UK, Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak,

[5] The Law Society, Coronavirus (COVID-19): Guidance to conveyancers advising clients on house moves,

[6] Gov UK, Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19),

[7] Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak,

[8] Ministry of Housing, How to Sell: A guide for people looking to sell a home in England and Wales,

[9] Defaqto,

[10] Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak,

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