PROPERTY viewings and moving home is now allowed in England as coronavirus lockdown restrictions have been relaxed.
Potential buyers can now legally be shown around homes and visit letting or estate agents under a new law after seven weeks of the market being frozen.
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The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 state that people may leave their home "to undertake any of the following activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property".
This includes showing people round their homes, viewing homes to potentially buy or rent, visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes and moving house.
Property expert Henry Pryor told The Sun Online: "Four million households rent homes on 12 month leases – many of which will be coming up to renewal.
"Many people have to move for lots of different reasons so this is great news especially for estate agents, many of whom haven’t eaten for seven weeks.
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"What we don’t know is what will happen to prices and to rents. Will buyers be happy to commit or will tenants have less money to offer in rent?
"Big questions for the biggest asset class in the country that touches us all. Prices look like they will drop 5 per cent immediately. What is less clear is whether they will fall further by Christmas."
It's also worth noting the rules are different in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. In Scotland and Wales, home movers are encouraged to delay doing so where possible.
We've asked what's happening in Northern Ireland and we'll update this story as soon as we get a response.
Hundreds of thousands have been unable to move
The move will be a welcome relief to more than 450,000 buyers and renters who have been unable to progress their plans to move since March, according to government figures.
Under the lockdown measures, essential or pre-planned moves were allowed but people were discouraged from moving home.
House hunters have instead been encouraged to carry out "virtual viewings" since lockdown was imposed – with housing secretary Robert Jenrick urging potential buyers to continue using the technology.
As a result, property prices are now predicted to fall. Lloyds Bank has predicted a 5 per cent drop this year, while estate agent Knight Frank has warned of a 7 per cent decline.
A spokesperson for the estate agent said: "Since Sunday night it's become clearer that some lockdown measures will remain in place into July and that social distancing rules governing day-to-day life, including property transactions, may remain in place beyond that.
"If we allow for the fact that some asking prices have come down since March, then we might conclude that prices are off by 5 per cent already since the beginning of the crisis."
Mr Jenrick said: "The housing market is one of the most important sectors of the economy and the ability to move home is also important to people’s lives.
"It has been totally frozen, but we have been working hard on a comprehensive plan to get it moving safely again and we are now in a position to enable a complete reopening of the housing market."
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