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In May 2020, the government announced that house moves can now continue to go ahead after all housing transactions were put on hold at the start of the UK lockdown back in March. All businesses linked to the housing market, including estate agents, surveyors, and removal firms, are now allowed to operate, provided that social distancing measures are adhered to at every stage of the process.

If you or anyone in your household is displaying symptoms of COVID-19, or have had a positive test result, then you must postpone moving house until everyone in your household has fully recovered and completed their isolation period. You must inform all parties involved if this situation arises.

The government are expecting all parties involved to be flexible during this time and to expect delays in the process.

This guide will outline what the house buying process looks like during the Coronavirus pandemic, as well as the safety measures you can take, so you know what to expect and what to do if you are about to move home.

Preparing to buy or sell

It’s not just those who had already started the process who can now move house, you are now allowed to start the process from the beginning. This means you can put your house on the market and start to view houses you want to move to.

Estate agents are allowed to come to your property to take photos and videos in order to sell it. However, social distancing measures should be adhered to (vacating the property whilst they are doing this is the most sensible option) and you must inform them if anyone in your household is showing symptoms or self-isolating as they should not visit the property in this scenario.

To minimise contact with others, people are also being strongly encouraged to do as much as they can online. This includes searching for properties, making viewings, and piecing together the necessary paperwork.


Property viewings are now allowed to take place, but you should use virtual viewings (photos and video tours) in the first instance and wherever possible, estate agents should also be encouraging this. In order to minimise contact with others, you should only go to physically view properties that you are seriously considering making an offer on. In line with government advice, viewings should be done on an appointment-only basis and no open house viewings should take place.  

Safety tips if your house is being viewed
  • Go around the house beforehand and ensure that all internal doors and windows are open so prospective buyers don’t need to touch door handles or surfaces.
  • Try to provide a clear sink area with paper towels so people can wash their hands regularly.
  • Vacate the property whist viewings are taking place in order to minimise contact with others.
  • Once a viewing has taken place, you should clean all door handles, cupboard handles and surfaces. This can be done with standard household cleaning products. 
Safety tips if you are going to view a property
  • You should only view properties with members of your own household that absolutely need to be there.
  • Avoid touching door handles and surfaces as much as possible and either wash your hands or use hand sanitiser regularly. If you need to bring children with you to the viewing, then ensure that they adhere to the same rules. 
  • Adhere to all social distancing measures with the estate agent accompanying you and the seller(s). If the estate agent is not accompanying you, then they should have set out rules on how to view the property safely before you go.

Making an offer

You are free to make or accept an offer or reservation as normal.

Property searches, surveys, and valuations

Surveys, searches, and valuations can take place as normal and there are no restrictions as to the type of surveys that can be conducted. Your surveyor will be able to advise you on the most suitable survey for the property you intend to purchase.

However, as with all parts of the process during this time, any surveyors or tradespeople coming to inspect the property must adhere to the current government guidelines on working safely in other people’s homes and social distancing measures. It’s also recommended that surveys and searches should be done on an appointment-only basis and only one person should visit the property at any one time.

If your house is being surveyed, then you should ensure that the surveyor has access to all parts of the property that they need and be strict with social distancing by either staying in another room or outside when they are doing their job.

Exchanging contracts

Once you have exchanged contracts or signed a tenancy agreement, then you have entered into a legal obligation to move; this has not changed. However, all parties are expected to be as flexible as possible during this time and to be accepting of the fact that delays could occur. For example, if someone in the property chain becomes ill with COVID-19 or has to self-isolate then they will be unable to move even if a date of moving has been agreed.

Your solicitor or legal advisor will help you to ensure that any contract you enter contains the flexibility to move dates or delay the purchase if you or someone in your household becomes ill with Coronavirus. You should also be as flexible and as understanding as possible if somebody else in the chain falls ill and has to delay.

Moving your belongings

Removal firms are now able to operate, but you should do as much of the packing as you can yourself.

Where you do need to use a removal firm, you should contact them as far in advance as possible so you can discuss any particular requirements you have. Planning as much as you can in advance will mean you will need less contact on the day.

Safety tips for moving your belongings
  • Where possible, you should clean all furniture or household items before they are handled by the removers, and you should clean them again when they arrive at your new property.
  • Whilst the removers are in your home, you should maintain a safe 2 metres away at all times. They should be strictly following the same rules.
  • You should provide hand washing facilities where you can, which included soap and a separate towel or paper towels.
  • Whilst you may wish to provide the removers with refreshments, you should not do this during this time. Their firms are being instructed to bring their own refreshments to minimise contact with others.
  • If you or anyone in your household in experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 you must inform the removal firm and all work should be put on hold. They are being instructed to do the same.


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