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What Does The COVID-19 Routemap Mean For The Scottish Property Market?

On Thursday 21 May, Nicola Sturgeon unveiled the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 Routemap. The document provided some detail on the phased approach by which restrictions will be lifted and the country can start to move out of the current lockdown scenario.

Here, we look at what this means for the present and future of the property market north of the border.

What has changed so far?
The short answer is that nothing has changed as yet. Although it is possible to move home in some circumstances – primarily where the move is considered to be reasonably necessary and can be completed safely by all parties involved – there has been no immediate relaxation of restrictions.

It is expected that we will move into Phase 1 of the Routemap this week. During that period, plans for a number of industries, of which the housing market is one, will be finalised to allow these industries open up. It is not until we enter Phase 2 of the Routemap that restrictions on house moves will be lifted. At present, it is expected that we will enter this phase on 18 June however this will depend on the progression of the pandemic allowing this to happen safely.

What will happen once restrictions are lifted?
It’s important to note that once restrictions start to be eased the market will not simply return to normal. All indications are that as we enter Phase 2 the guidelines for selling and buying a property will closely resemble those already in place in England.

Virtual viewings will remain an integral part of the buying and selling process for the foreseeable future. Physical viewings will only be permitted once a virtual viewing has taken place - and possibly only once the buyer has lodged a note of interest – to ensure only more seriously interested buyers view the property in person and to reduce the number of physical interactions taking place.

Even where physical viewings take place, it is likely that only one or two people will be able to view a property at one time and it is vanishingly unlikely that open viewings will be permitted any time soon. Those involved in the viewing of a property will be asked to confirm that neither they nor anyone they are in contact with has been symptomatic in the last 14 days prior to viewing, and Personal Protective Equipment will need to be worn.

Are buyers making offers based on virtual viewings?
Yes. Even under the full lockdown scenario, while the level of activity is much lower than would be expected at this time of year, we have secured a number of sales in recent weeks where the buyer viewed the property remotely using apps like Zoom and WhatsApp. As virtual viewings will remain a part of the buying and selling process for some time to come, buyers and sellers will inevitably become more comfortable with their use as we move forward.

I’m thinking of buying or selling. What should I do?
The situation is constantly evolving and we can expect to see more detail on the Government’s plans before the end of May. If you are thinking of moving you should speak to your solicitor estate agent in the first instance as they will be best placed to advise you based on the current guidance and on your own circumstances.

You can speak to Warners today by calling us on 0131 662 4747 or by emailing and we will be delighted to do what we can to help.

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