Can I move house in Scotland? Latest government guidance on housing market as lockdown route map unveiled

Thousands of property moves in Scotland could be disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic (Shutterstock)Thousands of property moves in Scotland could be disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic (Shutterstock)
Thousands of property moves in Scotland could be disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic (Shutterstock)
Tens of thousands of Britons have put house moves on hold during lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic

On March 23 the government introduced strict social distancing measures which discouraged the public from leaving their houses and saw the closures of non-essential businesses, causing disruption to the property market.

On May 21, however, the Scottish Government released a document detailing Scotland’s route out of lockdown including steps to reopen the housing market.

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Here’s everything you need to know about how house moves have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

What is the government advice on moving house during lockdown?

The government have broken down Scotland’s move out of lockdown into four phases, each seeing an incremental move away from current strict lockdown measures.

Currently details on the reopening of the housing market are minimal, however it looks like Scotland will be taking a more cautious approach than England, which is already allowing property viewings.

What will happen in phase one?

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In phase one, which is set to get underway on May 28, the government says that it will be ”preparing for the safe reopening of the housing market”.

The government hasn’t given precise dates for the beginnings of each phase, but have said that they will review progress every three weeks. Nicola Strugeon didn’t rule out moving through phases faster or slower than every three weeks.

What will happen in phase two?

In phase two the government said that they anticipate a relaxation of restrictions on housing moves. What this will look like remains unclear at this stage.

What will happen in phase three?

Phases three will see the reopening of office spaces which could see operations at estate agents return to regular operations.

What will happen in phase four?

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Finally phase four will see the reopening of all types of outlets. This could see the reopening of estate agents to the public, though this could occur in earlier phases depending on how the government decides to reopen the housing market.

Reaction to measures: “a source of frustration”

Edwina de Klee, partner at Garrington Property Finders, voiced her frustration at the measures.

She said: “a week after England’s estate agents reopened for business, the Scottish government has made clear it won’t fire the starting gun for Scotland’s property industry for another four weeks.

“Clearly this will be a source of frustration for Scotland’s property sector.

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“When they do eventually lift the shutters, Scottish estate agents will face two key questions – how will socially distant viewings work, and what kind of property market will they find?

“The experience of agents south of the border will help answer the first one.

“Would-be buyers in Scotland are likely to be vetted carefully and offered virtual, online viewings of a property before being invited to view it in person.

“The impact of the pandemic on prices, and people’s willingness to move, is harder to predict.

“For now, the lockdown has cryogenically frozen much of Scotland’s property sector, but there are signs that many prospective buyers have been using their confinement to window shop.”