May 12, 2020 / BUYING PROCESS

As lockdowns lift, what can property buyers expect?

What’s ahead as lockdown rules lift across Europe?

Lockdowns are slowly easing across much of the world as countries attempt to find their ‘new normal’. For many people who have had to put their plans on hold, this could be the moment when things start moving again. We look at what to expect in the coming months.

France: no restrictions for UK travellers

France has begun to relax its very strict lockdown as of this Monday, with an aim of gradually reducing measures through this month and the next. Professionals like estate agents and notaries can now return to their offices and gatherings of up to ten people can now take place.

Three-bedroom apartment in Les Gets.

TGV trains are running again and journeys of over 100km can be undertaken for urgent family or professional reasons.

Perhaps the best news for ski property buyers from abroad is that international travellers will not be obliged to quarantine for 14 days if they are coming from the European Economic Area or the UK.

Switzerland: second step of ‘deconfinement’ begins

Normal life is resuming in Switzerland, albeit in a socially distanced manner, as shops, schools and restaurants reopen. The border controls in place still remain for the moment, with the expectation that they will be lifted in early June. The third phase of so-called ‘deconfinement’ begins on the 8th June, and, if border controls are relaxed then, it is likely that we will also see ski resorts open for summer activities with precautions in place.

Austria: summer skiing set to reopen

Austria locked down early and, consequently, began to lift its restrictions relatively early. Face masks are currently compulsory in public, as shops, restaurants and businesses slowly reopen. The Kitzsteinhorn Glacier is set to reopen for summer skiing from 29th May, and we may well see other resorts open for activities like biking and hiking

Three-bedroom apartment in Ehrwald

At the moment, international arrivals must quarantine for fourteen days, but Vienna Airport has said it will offer onsite testing for the virus for €109, so that passengers who are shown to be free of it can continue their plans in Austria without isolating.

Italy: Conte says lockdown may ease faster than planned

Italy has now entered the second phase of its lockdown and travel restrictions are slowly being eased, with people able to visit family within the same region, but not yet in other regions. More shops, businesses and public amenities are expected to reopen on 18th May, and bars, restaurants and beauty salons from 1st June.

The return of international travel is not yet completely certain. However, it looks like things may be able to move faster than planned if infection rates do not rise. Giuseppe Conte said last week that Italy is ‘….gathering the data from the latest monitoring and with the experts we’re defining clear safety rules for workers and customers. If the situation remains under control on the epidemiological level, we’ll be able to agree some earlier moves with the regions.’

Spain: Regional phase-out begins

Spain has already begun to ease its strict lockdown, allowing people out at different times of the day for exercise based on their age. Now, around half of the country – deemed to have met the required health criteria – will further ease their lockdown. Groups of up to ten people will be allowed to meet and outdoor bar and restaurant terraces will reopen.

Six-bedroom house in Montcorbau

The area which is moving to this phase one, in good news for those interest in ski property, includes the vast majority of the Pyrenees. The rest of the country, including Granada and the Sierra Nevada, is expected to follow suit next week. International travel is not yet fully announced, but it is likely to have resumed by September for mainland Spain.

What does this mean for property buyers?

Commercial activity is resuming in much of Europe and it looks likely that domestic travel will become much easier in most countries by June. For anyone based in the country they’re looking to purchase in, this should make things much easier, and, as larger gatherings become permitted, it is likely that socially distanced in-person viewings will be able to go ahead.

For those coming from abroad, it is a case of waiting for the nod for international travel. As seen in the cases of France and Austria, there are either policies or measures in place that mean a fourteen-day quarantine won’t always be required.

In the meantime, now is the time to get yourself at the head of that queue once buying resumes apace. Start enquiring on properties, speaking to estate agents and work yourself out a realistic budget – find out more in the Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency.