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.
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:
- Issuing guidance developed with Public Health
England, to home buyers and those involved in the selling and moving process
- Agreeing with banks that mortgage offers should
be extended where delay to completions takes place in order to prioritise
- Working with conveyancers to develop a standard
legal process for moving completion dates
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.
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org