Are you thinking of moving home during the coronavirus pandemic? Following the recent government annoucements, tougher coronavirus measures are now in place across the UK. England is now in its third national lockdown, with restriction rules to come under review on 15 February. Scotland’s rules are to be reviewed at the end of January, and Wales has been in lockdown since 20 December… And it’s probably safe to say you have a lot of questions about what all this means for you.
Whether you’re just thinking of moving house, in the process of moving, unsure how you’ll afford mortgage payments or more – our Bearded Broker Ross Stisi has put together a list of a few commonly-asked questions to help steer you in the right direction, and put your mind at ease.
The housing market is still open across the entire UK. If you’d like to speak to one of our advisers about how the current lockdown may affect your house move, get in touch here and we’ll be happy to help.
Moving home during the Coronavirus pandemic – your FAQs
Can I list my home for sale?
Yes, you can still list your home on the property market just like normal. Contact an estate agent as you normally would, and they’ll be able to take care of the rest. You may need to book an appointment for any points of contact between you and the estate agency.
Please note that the Scottish Government has now strengthened guidance to advise that:
“whilst it is permitted to leave your house for activities in connection with moving home (including viewing a property), or for activities in connection with the essential maintenance, purchase, sale, letting, or rental of residential property that the person owns or is otherwise responsible for, at this time it is advisable to postpone, if possible.”
Is the process of searching for and moving into a new home the same?
The process of moving home during the coronavirus pandemic compared to buying a home under normal circumstances is a little different. As noted above, the Scottish Government’s advice is to postpone activities in connection to moving home, where possible. The UK Government has noted that the “process of searching for and moving into a new home is different because property agents, conveyancers and other professionals have modified how they work in order to reduce the risk from COVID-19”. So, while people can still move home, the process may take a little bit longer. It may be a bit different from normal.
UK Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed in relation to the housing industry:
- Renters and homeowners will still be able to move
- Removal firms and estate agents can still operate
- Construction sites can still continue
- Tradespeople will be able to enter homes
Can I still view a house?
Yes. House viewings can still be made, by appointment only. However, home movers are being encouraged to do their initial property searches online wherever possible and to postpone property viewings if possible.
How can I prepare if I plan to move house after the lockdown?
While the housing market is still open, some people may prefer to wait until after the lockdown measures have been lifted. If you’re planning to move home after the lockdown, it’s essential to get your mortgage ready as soon as you can!
Could I still apply for a mortgage payment holiday?
Yes, you can. The government recently announced an extension to the mortgage payment holiday by up to six months. The scheme allows homeowners to take a break from making mortgage payments, until they are able to do so once again. Lenders will decide the length of time you can extend a payment holiday on a case by case basis.
What if I can now afford to make mortgage payments?
If you can afford to start paying your mortgage again, you should. It is a critical outgoing which you don’t want to fall into arrears with as this can lead to challenges in obtaining credit in the future.
It should be your priority to pay the mortgage, if you can. After all, it is one of the largest monthly outgoings most people have.
What if my financial situation hasn’t improved?
Lenders are understanding about the current unprecedented times we’re facing. If you’re still experiencing payment difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic, lenders will offer you further support. So, do not be afraid to have a conversation with them.
However, if you’re contacting a lender to discuss a possible extension of your payment holiday, you will be subject to a detailed income and expenditure check.
This means you must have a clear overview of all your outgoings and income. You should be prepared to share your previous 3 – 6 months’ worth of bank statements too.
Will a mortgage holiday affect my credit score?
Usually taking a mortgage holiday would affect your credit score, but in this case, lenders are saying that it will not have any detrimental effect on your credit score, going forwards.
It’s important to know that even if you proceed with another mortgage holiday, this still won’t affect your credit score.
How long will it take for my mortgage application to be processed?
The lockdown period will undoubtedly present further challenges. We expect mortgage applications will take longer to process with many staff working from home, and the large increase in mortgage applications from those wanting to make use of the stamp duty holiday.
We strongly encourage that when it comes to sending off your mortgage application, you have all the required paperwork signed, sealed and ready to go such as ID, bank statements and proof of address. The sooner you share these things with your lender or mortgage adviser, the more chance they stand of processing the application efficiently.
I submitted my mortgage application recently, but the UK has now gone into lockdown. Will this affect my application’s ability to be accepted?
No. The government has confirmed the housing market will remain open meaning you can still move house and apply for a mortgage as normal. However, we’d always recommend seeking mortgage advice as everyone’s individual circumstances are different and therefore, this will determine the options available to you.
I recently bought some protection in relation to my mortgage. Can I apply for a payment holiday?
Many of our providers offer this. Please speak to your adviser who can give you the full details, as they can vary with each provider.