COVID-19

Buying & Selling Property During the COVID-19 Lock-down Period

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Buying & Selling Property During the Lock-down Period

The Government has urged those involved with property purchases to be flexible and alter usual practices during the time of lock-down in order to adhere to social distancing measures and thus slow the spread of Coronavirus through the UK.

The Government stated categorically that there was no need to pull out of transactions and that chains already created are safe, if everyone agrees to wait-it-out whilst all homes are under government lock-down.

Vacant Property

Where a property being moved into is vacant, the transaction should continue, whilst guidance around social distancing must be followed in regard to home-removals. Where the property being purchased is occupied, the Government encourages all parties to find an agreement to pause and agree on a new date for completion, when it is likely that the stay-at-home measures have been lifted. Although there is little governance around when this will be, a minimum of 3 months would seem sensible at this point, thus dates in July seem a sensible starting point.

The new guidelines, however, provide exemption for critical home moves during the present crisis, if a new date cannot be agreed.

The Government have set a framework for all parties to adhere to which includes:

What does this mean for scheduled completions?

The Government and all those professionally involved in the property market hope that home buyers and renters should delay moving to a new house whilst the measures are in place to stay-at-home. Working with all stake holders, it is hoped that agreement can be reached for those who have exchanged contracts, to find a new date to set for completion and therefore moving to a new house.

Although moving to a new house has not been deemed completely unacceptable, those with symptoms of Coronavirus, self-isolating or shielding from the virus should follow medical advice and not move to a new house at this time. If the sale is within a chain situation, all parties within the chain are expected to work together to find a mutually amicable solution to protect all involved.

Terms of the Mortgage Agreement

Last week (26.3.20) UK Finance have confirmed that all mortgage lenders are working to find ways to extend deadlines for all those who have exchanged contracts to extend their mortgage offer for 3 months, thus enabling the moving date to be extended. If finances of the buyers significantly change during this period and continuing with the mortgage would cause financial hardship, lenders will be working with their clients to support them in managing their finances as a matter of urgency.

Property is yet to be launched to the market

During this time of lock-down, you should have no visitors to you home and therefore launching your property to the market will be more challenging than usual. Potential vendors are encouraged to call and discuss your sale with our offices. If you are looking to get your house to the market, ready to beat the rush once we have beaten the Covid-19 pandemic, our negotiators can work on draft particulars, using draft photos and by engaging technology, we can write the words for your brochures via a FaceTime or video conferencing tour of your property. Although the property will not be launched until we have physically met you, had an Energy Performance Certification and taken professional photographs, we can be at a point that we are ready to launch as soon as those meetings are possible after the stay-at-home lock down is lifted.

Viewings

If your property is already on the market, we can continue to advertise your property for sale- as we will do through our portals, such as Rightmove, through our website and on social media where we post multiple times daily to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & LinkedIn. We can line up a list of people to view your property once the lock-down is lifted, or alternatively, we may suggest that you take your potential buyers on a virtual tour.

Accepting Offers

The process of selling property is continuing – albeit without our storefronts. We will continue to advertise your property and you are free to accept offers. You should be aware that the process will take longer than normal and vendors should not invite people into their home – agents, advisors or viewers.

Exchanging Contracts

Once contracts are exchanged, all parties have entered a legally binding contract to purchase that home. Government advise states that if the property is unoccupied, the transaction can continue. However, if occupied, all those involved agree a delay in completion until after the CODID-19 stay-at-home measures have been lifted. These could include explicit contractual provisions to ensure the purchase can occur in a safe manner for all involved.

If you have any questions or queries at this time regarding a sale or purchase, please contact our Residential Sales team on 01788 564666 or by calling property@howkinsandharrison.co.uk

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