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How will Boris’ three tier lockdown affect property sales? Will the property market grind to a halt?

Coronavirus cases spiked to above 10,000 towards the end of September – Yikes!

An embarrassing computer error on the government's part (definitely one for the history books), as well as a much-needed wake up call for Joe public, who finally thought this 'curse of lockdown' was beginning to lift. It pains us to say it but Lockdown's not a thing of the past just yet - you see it's already back, albeit in a slightly more diluted form...

In response to the new figures, the government's introducing a smattering of second lockdowns (i.e. local lockdowns) across the country, in a last ditch attempt to calm the spread and ‘break the circuit’, particularly within cities – the majority of which are COVID hot spots.

A second wave of restrictions that as you'd expect, have come as an unwelcome hurdle for any homeowners looking to sell their property fast.

How exactly, we'll be sure to detail later on. So in light of this, could the three tier lockdown cause the UK property market to crash? And should you consider pulling your house off the market before restrictions tighten even further? We give you the latest gossip on the three tier lockdown below...

Want to know something specific about how the three tier model (i.e. a second lockdown) could affect your property sale?

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What is the three tier lockdown? Is it a second lockdown?

The three tier lockdown system will be introduced on October 14th and seeks to lessen the rising COVID cases across the UK.

Much like the name suggests, the three tier lockdown categorises the country into three levels of alert: “Medium”, “High” or “Very High”. Each rating is based on the levels of Covid cases per 100,000 in each region. Currently, the North West has the highest level of cases – Liverpool and Manchester have been highlighted as hot spots.

In talks with the media, Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden expressed how the purpose of a three tier lockdown is to get cases of the virus under control by December; after all, no one wants to be that government who cancelled Christmas!

And if this sudden change of events hasn’t scrambled your brain enough, just hours after Boris’s three tier announcement, scientists have begun debating the need for a circuit breaker lockdown – basically a 2-week ‘express lockdown’ that would bring with it far more stringent regulations.

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The third tier lockdown rules and restrictions

As you’re already aware, the severity of the three tier lockdown differs depending on where you are in the country. Live in an area of ‘Medium’ risk and it’s likely things will remain the same, whereas if you’re in an area of ‘High’ or ‘Very High’ risk, restrictions will be tightened to a certain degree.

To give you a better idea of what these restrictions are, we’ve outlined each level of alert below…

What does Tier 1 mean? ('Medium' alert)

  • National 10pm curfew

  • Rule of 6

  • Businesses continue to operate

  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead in line with current restrictions

  • Schools/places of worship/ gyms remain open

What does Tier 2 mean? ('High' alert)

  • Medium measures +...

  • No meeting with anyone outside your household/ support bubble, be it indoors or a public place

  • Rule of 6 in gardens/ outdoor areas

  • Reduced travel - you must cycle/ walk where possible

What does Tier 3 mean? ('Very high' alert)

  • High measures +...

  • Pubs/ bars are closed - only remain open if they're serving meals like lunch and dinner

  • Wedding receptions are not permitted

  • You cannot meet with anyone outside your household/ support bubble, be it indoor or outdoor. Avoid travel outside your area - you're only permitted to travel to 'very high' risk areas if it's for school, work, to use youth services or care for someone elderly

  • Avoid overnight stays in 'very high' risk areas if you do not live there.

  • Do not go out of a 'very high' risk area if you live there.

Three tier lockdown slowed your sale?

The three tier lockdown - what level of alert is my area?

It's all very well understanding the three tiers of lockdown alert, but equally useless if you're not clued up on where these restrictions apply.

NOTE: If you live in ‘Medium’ risk area, congratulations – you shouldn’t see much of a change - although that doesn’t mean you can breathe a sigh of relief just yet. Why? Because the various tiers of restrictions could still affect your travel plans, especially if you work in another county.

So to avoid any school boy errors, we’ve compiled a table of the current ‘High’ and ‘Very High’ risk areas…

The current 'High' risk areas in the UK

  • Cheshire West & Cheshire

  • Oldham

  • Bradford

  • North Tyneside

  • Birmingham

  • Cheshire EastWarrington

  • Kirklees

  • Gateshead

  • Sandwell

  • Manchester

  • High Peak

  • Calderdale

  • Sunderland

  • Solihull

  • Bolton

  • Lancashire

  • Wakefield

  • Durham

  • Wolverhampton

  • Bury

  • Blackpool

  • Barnsley

  • Northumberland

  • Walsall

  • Stockport

  • Preston

  • Rotheram

  • Middlesborough

  • Leicester

  • Tameside

  • Blackburn with Darwen

  • Doncaster

  • Redcar & Cleveland

  • Oadby & Wigston

  • Trafford

  • Burnley

  • Sheffield

  • Stockton-on-Tees

  • Nottingham

  • Wigan

  • Leeds

  • Newcastle

  • Darlington

  • Nottingham City

  • Salford

  • Rochdale

  • South Tyneside

  • Hartlepool

  • London

The current 'Very High' risk areas in the UK (take note of these!)

  • Liverpool

  • Knowsley

  • Wirral

  • St Helens

  • Sefton

  • Halton

  • *Last updated 20th October 2020

FYI: Since publishing this blog, London has progressed from Tier 1 into Tier 2 and there's been talks of imposing Tier 3 measures in Manchester. Restrictions have also tightened in Ireland (under a different rating system) and the Welsh government has announced what it's calling a two-week 'fire-break' lockdown. In essence a circuit breaker lockdown that will come into force from October 23rd 2020.

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How could the three tier system affect my property sale?

This is probably the main reason you’re reading this blog, so we won’t faff about. Here’s two of the main ways in which the three tier lockdown could affect your property sale…

The three tier system = less viewings

As a seller, viewings are your primary weapon when it comes to attracting buyers. Seeing your house in the flesh not only allows potential buyers to picture themselves living there, but also gives them an idea of the atmosphere – i.e. how much that stunning double glazing you’ve installed will save them on heating bills, and assure them that their king-size bed will fit nicely in that master suite.

Details that mean they're far more likely to fall for your home, or at the very least give it some serious consideration. Viewings are also a good opportunity to establish a rapport with a buyer and develop their trust in you as a seller - a crucial ingredient, especially if you’re part of a chain.

However, in the case of the three tier lockdown, you could be stripped of this perk more or less overnight. It’s likely that areas of ‘Very High’ or even ‘High’ alert will see some sort of blanket ban on viewings, which in short, means you’ll be unable to form this connection; having groups of strangers rooting around your house during a pandemic is hardly the definition of safety.

Equally, buyers could choose to curb viewings all together for their own person safety, especially if they’d be travelling from lower risk area. As you’d expect, moves like this could easily limit your pool of potential buyers and leave you struggling to generate interest. Not ideal.

NOTE: Take face-to-face viewings out of the equation and buyers will find it hard to gauge your property for themselves. In this situation, your closest solution would be a virtual viewing, although this still wouldn’t allow a buyer to get a ‘feel’ for the property nor pose any questions to you, the seller.

The three tier model = slower legals

As well as demand from buyers, your property sale also relies heavily on your solicitors and conveyancers.

Without them you wouldn’t be able to tie up the legal side of a property sale. Neither would you be able to ensure a speedy completion date. However, to do this these legal gurus require access to a whole host of resources, both computer and paper based, which in the event they’re forced to work from home, they may lose their access to.

And it’s not just resources that they need to do their job. They also rely heavily on people, be they estate agents, staff at the land registry or other solicitors in a chain, to assist them in some way or another.

For instance they may need the title deeds from the land registry or to more details about the offer from the estate agent. But if because of the three tier lockdown said people aren’t working or slower to reply than usual then this could hamper their productivity and ultimately slow up the pace of your sale.

And while we’re on the subject of knock on effects, here’s 2 consequences of the affects above…

The three tier model = property price fall

Pretty self-explanatory, so we’ll just explain this one with a simple equation…

Fewer motivated buyers = lower demand = less competition (i.e. bidding wars) = lower sale price

The three tier model = property chains break

Property chains are sensitive creatures – they rely on a mix of trust and assurance to be successful. Take that away and the likelihood of ‘chain break’ is significantly higher. Discover what we think a three tier lockdown will do for trust and assurance below…

🞂 Trust

  • A lack of viewings would decrease a buyer’s trust in your property and in you as a seller.

  • People lose/ have already lost trust in the government for the way they’ve handled the COVID situation.

🞂 Assurance

  • There’d be a further lack of job security. Unemployment figures have spiked to 1.5 million in the 3 months to August (The Office of National Statistics)

  • The future of the COVID situation is still very unclear, as is its effect on house prices. Remember this article is merely our opinion.

  • Other countries in Europe have enforced much stricter measures than the three tier lockdown. For instance, the Czech Republic has gone into a 3-week lockdown.

Will the three tier lockdown cause the property market to slump?

We'd say so, at least to some extent.

There’s no getting past the disruption that the three tier lockdown could inflict on the UK property market if the level of disruption remains high (notice the italics on ‘if’).

With the tiers being enforced on a regional basis, opposed to a blanket ruling covering the entire country, affects on the property market will likely differ depending on the risk in your area.

So for instance, those in Liverpool (a county classed as ‘Very High’) could find it harder to find a buyer than those living in say, Harrogate (an area of ‘Medium’ risk).

Reason being, the amount of people who’re able to view and safely make a move is significantly higher. However that doesn’t mean that if your area’s ‘Medium’ risk, you’re in the all clear.

Boris has reiterated that these classifications will change in line with an area’s level of COVID cases.

So, if you were to list your house on the open market today and your area was to jump up a tier the following week, then you could only have a short period in which to find your buyer.

Fail to do and you may be left to rely on just your Rightmove listing and a virtual tour - not ideal.

However, it’s worth remembering that a three tier lockdown is more than just a local issue.

In the event a large number of regions see rising levels of alert, there’s a strong chance that property sales nationwide begin to slow - not necessarily to Lockdown MK1 levels but certainly by a noticeable amount.

Why? Well, let’s put it to you this way…

Would you want to relocate to a ‘High’ or ‘Very High’ risk area?… of course you wouldn’t. So if you’re trying to sell your property in one of these regions, who’s going to be your buyer?



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With over 50 years combined experience in property under our belts, you could say we're expects in what we do, although we're not ones to brag.

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Joe McCorry

Joe is our SEO Specialist that helps produce and develop content. He enjoys finding out about all the new property trends and learning about the property market.