You can now travel to France to view properties

PUBLISHED: 16:24 09 July 2020

Here's how the lifting of travel restrictions will benefit househunters (c)anyaberkut/Getty Images

Here's how the lifting of travel restrictions will benefit househunters (c)anyaberkut/Getty Images

anyaberkut

With the announcement that quarantine on travel between France and the UK will be lifted, property viewings can go ahead

France is well into deconfinement now, and significant changes to the lockdown are being made in the UK, including the reopening of pubs on 4 July. Perhaps the most significant news for holidaymakers, property owners and prospective buyers, is that as of 10 July it is expected that there will be no travel restrictions between France and England, as both countries will have lifted their 14-day quarantine requirements. England has given France an ‘amber’ rating, meaning that although there are still some Covid cases it is considered safe to visit, and France had already lifted restrictions on travel to European countries on 15 June. Scotland has also announced that it has lifted quarantine restrictions on arrivals from France.

Travel services are starting to resume with reduced services - flights are running between the UK and France with health measures in place, Eurotunnel is offering hourly services, Brittany Ferries has commenced a reduced schedule, and Eurostar is also operating, with the requirement that passengers wear masks.

Although these immiment changes have been announced it’s important to note that the UK government website still advises against all but essential international travel, so continue to check the gov.uk site for updates.

Agents have resumed in-person viewings, maintaining social distancing and health measures (c)Yana Solovets/Getty ImagesAgents have resumed in-person viewings, maintaining social distancing and health measures (c)Yana Solovets/Getty Images

So, what does this mean for househunters? Until now estate agents in France have been keeping transactions going by arranging virtual viewings and by allowing for the digital signing of documents. With the news that travel between the UK and France will be relaxed, however, they anticipate many more viewings in person, maintaining social distancing and health measures.

Peter Elias of Allez-Francais says that there’s a pent-up demand from British buyers who wish to purchase before the end of the Brexit transition period, and that as a result agents’ diaries are rapidly being filled. “We are very busy and currently may not always be able to accommodate visits without good notice - it’s advised that buyers give 7-14 days notice where possible,” he says.

Sheelagh Gorham of Agence Newton agrees. “Since the ferries started we have been rushed off our feet,” she says. “Clients are very keen to buy and houses are often selling for full asking prices in the rush to beat the transition period deadline.”

Several steps are being taken to ensure the safety of viewers, owners and agents. “For any visits, visitors are required to wear a mask and gloves (or a sanitizing gel), whilst not touching surfaces and observing appropriate social distancing” says Peter. “Ahead of any visits, we need to register anyone attending the property with their personal information and details for traceability. Furthermore, travel to and from properties is by separate vehicle, and in general most of the vendors will either be out during the visit or remain in the garden, for their own safety.”

“Where home owners are present, they are requested to leave doors open and lights on where applicable so nobody needs to touch anything,” adds Sheelagh.

The ability to view properties in person is one benefit of travel restrictions being lifted, but for people who agreed property sales virtually under lockdown conditions, it means they can now finally travel to their new home. In some cases this will involve moving large amounts of furniture, and international removals company Burke Bros say that their entire workforce is now back up and running to facilitate moves.

“We booked 24 moves from the UK to France within the first three days of our offices re-opening, and were able to phase our removal crews from furlough back into work, going from two teams to all teams being fully operational once our vans could travel to France,” says Managing Director Gary Burke. “We refuse to be complacent and the safety and wellbeing of our customers, their families and our employees is more important than eve - we will only execute removals where full Covid-19 compliance is in place.”

As well as operating removal services again, the company is offering virtual surveys to anyone who is hoping to move to France in the near future, whereby surveyors can supply customers with a quotation after viewing the volume of goods to be moved via a video.

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