Buying and selling homes during the Coronavirus pandemic

What does the Government's instruction to 'stay at home' mean for people in the process of buying and selling property?

What does the Government's instruction to 'stay at home' mean for people in the process of buying and selling property?

The main priority is the health and well-being of the public and with the Government's specific instruction to 'stay at home' - this has a huge impact on the property market.

If your house is not yet on the market, the Government advice is that you should not invite unnecessary visitors into your home which means that you will not be able to allow viewings or have valuations or surveys completed. If possible it is best to wait and use this time to get your paperwork etc ready for when you can start to market your property.

If the property is vacant then the sale can go ahead as long as the move can be done safely for everyone - that no one involved is displaying symptoms of the virus, and the social distancing and hygiene rules can be obeyed.

Where the property is occupied then all parties involved should work together to find a mutually acceptable alternative date when the 'stay at home' measures are unlikely to still be in place, this is the case even when you have already exchanged contracts. If the move is critical and there is no way to agree a mutually acceptable alternative date then you may still proceed but subject to rules regarding social distancing.

Where contracts have been exchanged and the agreed extension of time goes beyond the terms of the mortgage offer, mortgage lenders have agreed to look at ways that mortgage offers can be extended to allow for a move at a later date. Lenders have also agreed to help, as a matter of urgency, customers manage their finances where their circumstances have changed significantly and they face financial hardship.

As conveyancers, we have a duty to support you in the process as far as possible but also to make you aware of the difficulties of completing transactions at this time. If you require advice on any of the issues raised in this article, including how to get ready to make a head start when the market opens up again, please contact our Residential Conveyancing Team on 01733 882800 or email info@hcsolicitors.co.uk.

Author

Pippa Woodcock, Senior Conveyancing Executive

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This article has been prepared for general interest and information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. While all possible care has been taken in the preparation of this article, no responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by the firm or the authors.