Moving home during the coronavirus crisis

We are living in difficult times but as a community we will get through it together.

As a firm we recognise the difficulties and the challenges that are being faced by us all in simply going about our day to day business and living our ordinary lives.

We have a very busy and thriving property department and it is our wish to keep all our clients informed as to the latest developments in this regard and the advice given by the Government.

Firstly, there is no need to withdraw from any transaction.  I think we all need to be aware that transactions are going to take longer than normal but eventually this crisis will pass and life as we knew it will resume.

We are striving for all of our clients to progress our transactions as much as possible throughout the coming days and weeks ahead.  Virtually everybody is now capable of working remotely and therefore transactions are being moved forward everyday with minimal signs of disturbance or disruption.

For those of you just about to embark upon a property transaction, it will be difficult for surveyors to gain access and of course viewings of property can no longer take place.

The primary objective of course is to stay safe and to ensure that government guidelines are fully observed.

If you have not yet exchanged contracts on your purchase but the property you are moving into is vacant; then it is hoped that the transaction can still proceed as normal.  You will be able to exchange contracts and complete although you must follow the government guidelines concerning home removals.

You may, in effect, find it difficult to obtain a removal van.

Many people are deciding to hire vans (where possible) and to move themselves.

Obviously, completing a purchase does not mean you have to move in on that day but most people would of course prefer to.  If you do choose to complete on a purchase but defer moving then you must notify your mortgage company immediately.  You must also notify your insurer that you will have completed on a purchase but will not have taken occupation.

Everybody will need to be flexible and adaptable during this difficult time.

For those of you who have not exchanged contracts, the government advice is to defer until such time as the crisis is over and free movement is returned.  It would be extremely difficult to exchange contracts and fix a completion date when there is no guarantee that on the completion date you will be able to move.  You will have entered into a contractual arrangement which will be difficult to change without the goodwill of all parties.

The more parties there are in a chain, then the more difficult it will be to exchange contracts and fix completion dates during this period.

We understand that banks will be extending the “shelf lives” of mortgage offers so hopefully you need not worry that your mortgage offer will expire before the current situation is over.

If you have already exchanged contracts and are due to complete in the next couple of weeks, we strongly advise that you speak to your buyer/seller to see if an alternative completion date can be agreed.  If you do manage to reach agreement, please let us know so that an appropriate variation to your contract can be organised.

Remember, if you are exhibiting any symptoms of Covid-19 you must follow the government advice and you must not move.  If somebody in the chain appears to exhibit symptoms or is self isolating then please do all that is possible to alter the completion date.  This must be the priority.

If you are thinking of selling your property, then putting the property on to the market will have to wait until the lockdown period is over.  Estate agents cannot view the properties and obviously potential buyers will not be permitted to view either.  This is a good time however to “get your house in order”.  Make your house as physically and aesthetically ready for viewings and sort out all your paperwork now, ready to give to your solicitor once you are able to fully market the property.

If your property is on the market at the moment, of course you may continue to advertise but you may not allow people round to view it.  Most estate agents can however, organise virtual viewings.  This is a very sensible proposition and possibly weed out potential time wasters.

Remember that if you are looking for a property to purchase and you have not exchanged and the property you are proposing to purchase is empty, then the transaction may proceed.  In all other cases, the exchanging of contracts should not take place until we are back to normal (or as normal as we can be).

These are very difficult times and we are here to help guide you through them.  For any advice regarding your potential house move or on any property related matter please contact either Jeremy Lewis on 07788-561091 (jeremy.lewis@bowlinglaw.co.uk) or Laura Gill on 07391-010201 (laura.gill@bowlinglaw.co.uk).

If you would like any more information in relation to this article then please feel free to contact me via email: jeremy.lewis@bowlinglaw.co.uk or visit my profile.

Website content note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

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