Whether it’s buying your first home, moving to a new location or selling a property that you’ve wanted to get rid of for years, navigating the property market can be a massively stressful and financially significant experience.
With the added complications of the coronavirus, this process is now even more challenging; many people have been discontinuing or pausing their progress on buying and selling properties.
What is the official advice?
The general advice is to stay put if possible. The government has urged people not to move house to try to limit the spread of coronavirus across the UK. This is in-line with other Home Office guidance surrounding the virus, which is all in place to stall the spreading of COVID-19.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick’s department has said:
“Homebuyers and renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while measures are in place to fight coronavirus.”
Where deals are already in place, or nearly finalised, the government has said “there is no need to pull out of transactions” but that the health of the people involved in the deal should be the primary concern.
Empty properties are less of an issue:
If a property is vacant, people can continue with the transaction, although they must ensure they are following guidelines with regards to home removals. For example, staying 2m apart from other people involved in the moving process.
Amicable delays are encouraged:
Where the properties in question are still occupied, and would require removal workers, or a large amount of effort to clear the buildings and transport both furniture and people from one home to another, the government has urged people to amicably delay moving dates. This is clearly the most logical option, and should be done if at all possible.
If your home is not yet on the market:
Government advice is as follows:
Getting your home onto the market may be more challenging than usual in this period. There should be no visitors to your home. You can speak to Estate Agents over the phone and they will be able to give you general advice about the local property market and handle certain matters remotely but they will not be able to start actively marketing your home in the usual manner.
- If you are thinking about selling, you can use this time to start gathering together all of the information you will need to provide to potential purchasers
- Advice for people to stay at home and away from others means you should not invite unnecessary visitors into your home, including: Property Agents to carry out a market appraisal or take internal photographs prior to marketing your home; and Energy Performance Certificate assessors.
Information that you can gather during this isolation period are things such as:
- Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
- Any planning permission and/or building control certificate for any extension/improvement work carried out to the property
- Any warranty for any refurb, extension, improvement work such as electrical work, central heating, roofing, timber treatment, damp proofing, solar panel installation, window or door installation etc
- Central Heating – Gas safety register or CORGI
- Electricity – Electrical Safety Cert
Viewings are not a good idea
This should not come as a surprise in the current climate. If your property is already on the market, you can continue to advertise it as being for sale but you should not allow people in to view your property.
- There should not be any visitors into your home, and you should therefore not let people visit your property for viewings. Your agent may be able to conduct virtual viewings and you could speak to them about this possibility.
The buying and selling process can continue during the coronavirus but you should be aware that the process is likely to take longer than normal.
- You are free to continue to accept offers on your property, however the selling process may take longer due to added complications with the coronavirus.
- Advice for people to stay at home and away from others means you should not invite visitors into your home, including prospective buyers or advisors.
Once you have exchanged contracts, you have entered into a legal agreement to purchase that home.
- If the property you are purchasing is unoccupied you can continue with the transaction.
- If the property you are purchasing is currently occupied, it is recommended that all parties should work to either delay the exchange of contracts until after the period where stay-at-home measures to fight coronavirus (COVID-19) are in place, or include explicit contractual provisions to take account of the risks presented by the virus.
What if an extension goes beyond the terms of a mortgage agreement?
UK Finance have already confirmed that, in order to support customers who have already exchanged contracts for house purchases and set dates for completion, all mortgage lenders are working to find ways to enable customers who have exchanged contracts to extend their mortgage offer for up to three months to enable them to move at a later date.
Banks are concerned
Lenders are very concerned about the effect of the pandemic on valuations, and are less likely to give out loans.
Banks are also worried about granting mortgages during this period of extreme economic uncertainty, as expected.
Lenders such as Virgin Money and Skipton Building Society, have suspended all new mortgage applications for house purchases until the crisis has passed.
Halifax has also stopped offering mortgages to buyers without 40 percent deposits.
We are here to help!
We have a dedicated team of conveyancing specialists ready to advise and guide you through any property issues or questions you have.
Call on 020 7928 0276, or email into firstname.lastname@example.org.