Updated Advice to Homebuyers and Sellers during Lockdown

By June Caunce, head of Conveyancing
Friday 14th May

On 1st April we wrote about the restrictions in place for homebuyers and sellers during lockdown. In a bid to get the property market moving again the government has now updated its advice.

Estate agents can open once again, viewings can be arranged carried out under strict social distancing rules and removal firms and conveyancers can get back to work – not that we ever stopped. However, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland property market remain closed for now.

With reports that property websites have seen an increase in traffic whilst we’ve been in lockdown there appears to be an optimism surrounding the plan to restart, however, the reality concerning income uncertainties and finances will surely bring about a cautious beginning, apart from maybe anyone who was close to completing a transaction before lockdown.

Over the past few weeks our conveyancing team has still been working towards completion for our clients who had started the property sale or purchase process before 23rd March and we can now move these transactions further forwards as well as take on new instructions for anyone who is now in a position to make or accept an offer on their home.

The good news is that our conveyancing transactions and communications are primarily done over the phone or email, with some items that must be signed being sent either by email signed and returned or through the post meaning that there shouldn’t be any delays in your transaction. We are also using Zoom, Facetime, Whatsapp and Skype to keep you up to date.

One of the working practices that we would recommend continuing would be to proceed on a Simultaneous Exchange and Completion basis meaning exchange of contracts and completion takes place on the same day. The advantage of doing this in the current situation is that if for some reason your mortgage money doesn’t arrive from the lender or one of the parties in the transaction is suddenly self isolating then as contracts haven’t been exchanged there can be no penalties under the contract such as interest for late completion.

We would also recommend in line with the government guidance, that all parties in a chain remain flexible on timing and as patient as possible, particularly if someone in the chain is affected by the virus in any way.