Government says ‘it may become necessary to pause all home moves’

Boris Johnson has warned that the government “may have to do more” if ministers feel current lockdown rules are not enough to stem the current spike in coronavirus cases, and that could include a halt on people moving into homes in England, whether as owner-occupiers, private or social renters.

Boris Johnson

The government has faced calls for a tightening of the restrictions in recent days in order to help reduce Covid-19 infections.

Labour leader Keir Starmer yesterday called for property viewings to be stopped during the current lockdown, but ministers are already understood to be considering how to achieve greater enforcement, and that includes, among other measures, property viewings and all home moves being stopped “locally or nationally for a short period of time”, according to government guidance.

The prime minister last week announced a set of new national restrictions for England, similar to those in place in March last year, but unlike the first lockdown, the housing market remains open for business, with people permitted to move and estate agents allowed to operate by going inside homes.

Speaking during a visit to a mass vaccination centre in Bristol yesterday, Johnson said: “We’re going to keep the rules under constant review, where we have to tighten them, we will.”

“Of course, if we feel things are not being properly observed, then we may have to do more,” Johnston added. “But, far, far better for people to obey the rules that we have, than to simply promulgate new rules.”

Updated government guidance provides useful advice on the impact tighter restrictions could have on moving home, and in turn sales and lettings activity.

Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus outbreak states: “It may become necessary to pause all home moves locally or nationally for a short period of time to manage the spread of coronavirus. We will let you know if this needs to happen.”

Agents need to make those who are about to enter into a legally binding contract aware that they should, according to the latest government advice, “discuss the possible implications of Covid-19” with a legal professional “and consider making contractual provisions to manage these risks”.

The guidance adds: “You should not expect to immediately be able to move into any home where people have Covid-19 or are self-isolating”.

Those renting a property, letting agents and landlords should be aware of and follow the government guidance on coronavirus and renting which contains further advice that may also be applicable such as on possession proceedings, repairs, maintenance and health and safety.

 

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47 Comments

  1. NewsBoy

    I am looking to move. I had hoped to put my property on the market and complete before 31st March but that date is now impossible.

    There is no way that I’m letting ANYONE into my house to value or market so don’t see I’ve got much chance of starting the process till the summer.

    I don’t think I would happy to view anything till I’ve had the vaccine either.

    I know it won’t be popular on this site but have to agree that there is now very little reason to allow this market to remain open. It has to close 100% tomorrow.

    Lettings will still have to continue but lettings and viewings could only take place on vacant, sterilised, properties.

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    1. midsagent197772

      Can certainly understand this point of view. I work remotely and we’re still being ‘encouraged’ to go out to all valuations that are booked in, even the ones which sound like a waste of time, because we’re losing some instructions to other agents. Myself and the colleagues I speak to are ignoring this and still completing ‘virtual valuations’ where it’s clear that the customer isn’t serious about selling soon. You’d be amazed at the number of people who book us to come out because they’re thinking of extending, retiring next year, splitting up and buying out their ex or are just simply curious about how much their house is worth. It’s as though they’ve not watched the news for a year!

      Why on earth would we put ourselves and others at risk for these types of things? I haven’t lost a single instruction where I’ve done a virtual val, but if I did I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it, more important things to worry about.

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      1. WatfordAgent

        The word ‘encouraged’ is worrying.

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    2. Mothers Ruin

      If buyers can’t move then nor can renters

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  2. Herb

    Fake news, Boris has not said agents stop viewings, only Starmer.

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    1. NewsBoy

      I agree but hopefully he will do so very shortly 

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      1. WatfordAgent

        Why? Not saying i disagree but why?

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        1. Bertie

          Respectfully disagree.

          People are often guilty of assuming just because they think a certain way so does everybody else.

          The industry generally has adapted to PPE and risk assessments very well, and to my knowledge there is no indication that people have been spreading it through appointments.

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  3. juniorneg

    One of the things that has struck me most in this pandemic is the media’s decision to create their own stories.  Whilst this is probably the norm in normal circumstances, its extremely dangerous and irresponsible in current times.

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    1. MarkJ

      Completely agree with that.

      Many journalists at briefings also seem to want to get noticed/further their own careers by asking particularly contrived questions.

      Unless its an obvious **** up theres a balance to be had at the present…..Im sure politicians will be fully scrutinised over the next few months.

       

       

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    2. Eyereaderturnedposter12

      Agreed juniorneg,

      It is difficult to know who’s the ‘chicken’ and who’s ‘egg’…Over the past 14 months, the media has been acting in such a desperately irresponsible and fear-mongering fashion (not to mention their almost complete ignorance to actual fact!), that is bordering on criminal. Is it deliberate, it is merely a ‘cheap’ means of trying to gain rating over their competitors…or is it more sinister? Are these media outlets given a ‘line’ to follow…who knows?

      MarkJ,

      I’m not confident in this happening…There has been almost zero scrutiny, and the measures imposed upon this (and others) country, are little short of totalitarianism. ”Yes, but COVID…” are the cries! At what point do we say enough is enough?

      Are you aware that the announcements informing the country of lockdowns, were entirely unlawful and unenforceable? These announcements were made BEFORE the bills had been passed through parliament. Government by decree, is a very shady business.

      ”Lockdowns”- There exists not ONE reliable piece of independent evidence that indicates that ”Lockdowns” have ANY effect on total mortality (feel free correct me on this). WHO had previously (and vocally) advised strongly against the introduction of ”lockdowns” as a means of controlling viral transmission. Can you guess why?… Because they don’t work, and cause severe hardship that far outweighs any perceptible benefits (of which there are none, bar merely extending the timeline of those who will perish from a virus).

      Mask wearing- As above, there have been several papers produced (including the now well and truly ”buried” Dutch report) that demonstrate mask wearing has no effect in terms of reducing viral transmission. E.g. Supermarkets…all requiring demanding that masks are worn in their stores. Great, shop happily wearing your mask, and then proceed touch the chip and pin key pad that multiple of thousands of people have touched that day, touch the produce, the shelves, fridge door handle and so on.

      I would go as far to say as the closure of ”non-essential” shops, and the allowance of supermarkets to continue to trade, is entirely counter-productive and counter-intuitive. What has been done, is that supermarkets now have a far greater concentration of people , attending more frequently, and thus has effectively turned supermarkets into petri dishes.

      We do these things because it is the law…not because there is any logic, data/fact behind it.

       

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      1. MillicentBystander

        Agree.  Interesting to watch it play out.

        A government and press continuing to ratchet up the fear factor with variations of Covid strains, promoting that our faith be put in a vaccine that’s not a vaccine, but merely a preventative measure and only trialed on 2000 folk (first version approved for use) then used on the old and vulnerable as test subjects.  The continual lack of detail over true number of deaths caused by Covid and muting of the disclaimer that states these figures include ‘ all deaths recorded in people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Coronavirus’ while ignoring all the false negative/positive results and staggering disbelief that the number of positive cases might increase significantly given the increase in testing across the country.

        Then there’s the restrictions of free speech (twitter already has a mute and block facility for a reason) and constant drive by the press to cause division by promoting the labelling of those who disagree with your own thought process with phrases like snowflake, woke, far right, far left and fascist.

        Oh, and for clarity, I’m not ‘anti-vax’ or a ‘Covid denier’ (two more lovely labels) I just question the science, lack of clarity in figures and have a deep lack of trust in politicians.

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  4. Highstreetblues

    Starmer has no idea – I hope he’s ignored and they concentrate on getting the vaccine out instead.

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    1. jan - byers

      he is truly an imbecile

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  5. Truthspeaks

    So, no one has said – we are thinking about it – it’s just from the advice that we might need to, which is standard and understandable.

    this is nothing more than scare mongering and they disappointing from Pie.

     

     

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  6. MarkJ

    Personally I would stop viewings on new to market/unsold properties until the end of the month at least….just continuing with any visits require to complete existing sales. Id also sort out the mess that is supermarkets….Im sure trolleys and baskets are not being sanitised in my local one.

    Hospitalisation rates /deaths going up ….needs to be stopped quickly. Vaccines are being rolled out but for the next weeks changes are needed.

    Im not saying viewings are causing major infections but we havent got time at the minute to pick an choose…

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  7. #ImpressiveConveyancing

    Of course it should.
    “Agents and conveyancers freeze all your clients/customers.”
    But then garden centres are open, B&M, Home Bargains, DIY shops, traffic everywhere, the public out once a day in droves ‘exercising’……the virus is taking over.    

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  8. Ric

    I am sure many agents are busy, but other than our existing pipeline new business seems to be almost dead…The phones are sooo quiet.

     

    It is only the 2nd week of January I keep thinking, but by now I would have done an easy 20 valuations, perhaps only 5 serious ones, but in itself the fact I have had only 3 valuations so far this year makes me think, the “might movers” are not interested yet and those who were genuinely keen to beat the Stamp Duty holiday made their move to sell & buy last year.

     

    Interesting 2021 on the cards I reckon.

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    1. surrey1

      100% this, Ric.

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    2. Property Poke In The Eye

      Very true.

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    3. biffabear

      Same.

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    4. JamesDB

      Same as.  Lettings okay, but Sales virtually nothing so far this year.

      Still, I am sure there is someone out there somewhere that has “never been busier”, and has “sold more than ever”.   Or some social commentator that wants to tell me I should be grateful to still have a job… and all that…

       

      I await their comments!

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      1. Busyestateagent

        Hi JamesDB,

        I see you are awaiting a comment so here I am!

        You say “Sales virtually nothing so far this year”. In a week we have sold 9 houses and instructed 7. Maybe I have low standards but I would consider that to be busy. Wouldn’t you?

        If you are not busy I would question why? Is there something you are doing wrong?

        I await your comments.

        Thank you.

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        1. gingerninja

          Busyestateagent we’re very similar – still plenty of viewings, plenty of vals, plenty of instructions and plenty of sales tying up since we came back after christmas break. Probably a little bit quieter than a normal January to be fair but a lot busier than I was expecting with us being in the middle of a lockdown. Maybe it’s a geographical thing?

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          1. JamesDB

            BusyEstateAgent,

            Thank you for not letting me down and proving you are busy… and well done (and that is a genuine well done by the way, not a sarcastic one).

            Maybe it is location based? We have listed the same as you so far this year but only sold a couple…

            lettings on the other hand, no where near enough property to go around.   Looking at our local competitors, the big boys who I would have expected to have sold similar numbers to you, if not more, are all down on sales too.

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  9. James White

    My Son has now lost his Uncle (my brother aged 52), and his Grandad’s Brother (yesterday) in the last three months.
     
    Would anyone of the many who are keeping their branches open on here and dragging their staff in who could work from home as a bare minimum, like to explain to a worried 14-year old that it is okay at the moment for the world to continue as near normal as possible?    
     
    Is he a “snowflake”, as many on here have described those who are worried?

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  10. UKisgreat

    The market must remain open, I would be stunned if agents are not taking the required precautions during viewings/valuations. One is far more at risk at ‘Tesco’ than a house viewing, with the hundreds of people fanning in and out of supermarkets, that poses the greatest risk, The economy must be kept alive.We simply cannot afford to shut everything down again. I am not a fan of Tony Blair but he was absolutely right to call the government out on not vaccinating fast enough. It appears they are heeding –  We need 24 hr roll-out and it looks like we may be heading in that direction. Tradesman are permitted to continue work so why not estate agents? There are too many businesses tied to the property market that a total shutdown would be catastrophic for the economy.

     

    Sadly, the current surge is due to Christmas/New Year, people desperate to share the festive period ended up infecting their family. Guidelines aside, people knew the risks involved and still took them.

     

    Keep the market open.

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  11. surrey1

    Picked up an ordinary common variety cold this week. Nothing exciting, just a seasonal thing. However, I have picked it up despite wearing a mask, sanitising my hands regularly, limiting physical appointments as much as necessary, seeing nobody socially for longer than I can remember, just coming to work and doing what we do. Does make me question the “It’s safe if you follow the guidelines” brigade and would personally rather stand down for a few weeks until we get on top of this thing. We’re past the point of saying “It’s just the elderly and unwell at risk here”.

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  12. htsnom79

    What a shame that evolution did not determine that humans hibernate, I would quite happily sleep til april and wake up to lighter nights, sun with a bit of warmth to it and importantly no effing virus.

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    1. James White

      Amen to that…..

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  13. smile please

    Gloves, mask, sanitizer and wipes.

    No vendors in on viewings, only 2 people allowed to view.

     

    In the office desks 2 meters apart, all staff have their own phones, computers and coffee mugs.

     

    I would say being an estate agent or viewing a property is safer than going to the supermarket.

     

    All agents i come across are being sensible. Closing the market is cracking a walnut with a sledge hammer.

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  14. WatfordAgent

    In a few years this whole virus will be behind us and we can finally get on with our lives however some sacrifices will clearly need to be made. So far we have had one full lockdown and based on the positive results it worked. 
    Hopefully the housing market will not need to close down but when current advise is to ‘act like you have the virus’ why should we be entering someone’s home? It’s clear what has been done is not enough so what’s next?
    Our options as i see it are – 1. we wait for the vaccine (fingers crossed) or 2. we lockdown everything.
    Good luck over the next few weeks everyone! May the odds be ever in your favour (unless you’re my direct competitor)

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  15. Alan Murray

    It is time the Government acknowledged that this lockdown that isn’t really a full lockdown is not working and tightened it considerably to where it was last March onwards. And this time close the housing market too.

    On thinking everything over my considered opinion now is that the SDLT holiday should end immediately. Anyone offering on a property now is not going to complete before the holiday ends anyway. Whilst such is the increase in prices over the last three months that anyone who has found during that time will, in real terms, not actually be making any saving anyway. So stopping now would be unpopular with some buyers, but actually the majority will probably not lose out.

    The advantage is that the market can correct itself over the next few weeks and months with everyone knowing the stamp duty bands are back to normal and that come the summer many restrictions on the economy will hopefully be removed and some normalcy can come back.

    It would be another Government u-turn but we are used to them. There will be winners and losers but if we continue working towards 31 March there will be anyway. But with conveyancers back to working from home (which simply cannot be efficiently done even by good practitioners of whom there are few these days), and surveyors and banks dealing with huge backlogs during a lockdown, there is simply no point in trying to pretend that there is a point to continuing at this time.

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    1. WatfordAgent

      Agree with you Alan.
      It’s also likely that what was once affordable for many buyers due to SDLT holiday may no longer be within budget when completion is just round the corner and it is past the holiday deadline. Likely to be a few buyers withdrawing close to exchange because an additional ££££s has to be accounted for.

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  16. Robert_May

    52,000 views? Something  not usual about that    
    15:22 53,333
    15:24 53,687
    15:25 54,076
    15:27 54,428
    15:29 54,764
    15:32 55,205

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    1. Robert_May

      definitely something wrong with the counter on this one

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    2. Robert_May

      07:30 153,892  no-one else about log out

       

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      1. Robert_May

        154,474 – 153,892… 582 reads in two minutes?   something deffo not right!

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        1. Robert_May

          155,604

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          1. Nick Salmon, M.D. Property Industry Eye

            The traffic on EYE – and this story in particular – has been exceptional in the past 24 hours. This was mainly due to Google ranking us No 1 for some particularly topical search terms. Technical data indicates that the traffic is genuine and the read count on this story is correct.

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            1. Robert_May

              Wow, congratulations! There is a story right there Nick!

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              1. Robert_May

                Views: 430,670

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                1. Robert_May

                  430,978

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  17. Neg01

    There has been a petition to stop close estate agents since the start of the Pandemic.  hopefully it will finally get some traction and stop unscrupulous companies forcing people to work in overstaffed offices during a global pandemic.

    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/564530

     

     

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    1. Adam75

      Do you know this ?

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  18. Rob Hailstone

    If they ended the SDLT holiday without notice, every time something similar was offered by the Government, everyone would be scrabbling to complete asap, in case any new incentive was also withdrawn.

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  19. Adam75

    The problem isn’t with Estate Agents . Your more likely to catch COVID in a supermarket where their is no control on wearing masks , social distancing and contact or by not obeying the rules. If the correct procedures are followed why cant agents stay open and i know many who are working from home and not in crowded offices. If the southern counties had been put into another lock down like most of Northern England was in Oct/Nov instead of lording it up in pubs and restaurants and not giving a dam we wouldn’t be in another lockdown now and most of the southern hospitals wouldn’t be at breaking point. You really think a petition to stop agents from opening is going to work !! Seriously . Ohh lets start a petition to close supermarkets as most dont follow rules . No i think not .

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