Clarke Willmott’s guide to buying and selling homes during COVID-19
Buyers and renters should delay moving to a new house:
- If you have already exchanged contracts and the property is currently occupied then all parties should agree a delay.
- If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on social distancing.
- Anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice which will mean not moving house for the time being. All parties should prioritise agreeing to move dates for individuals in this group, or where someone in a chain is in this group.
- Where the property being moved into is vacant, you can continue with the transaction although you should follow the guidance on home removals.
Extending beyond the terms of a mortgage agreement
UK Finance have confirmed that, to support customers who have already exchanged contracts for house purchases and set dates for completion, all mortgage lenders are working to enable customers who have exchanged contracts to extend their mortgage offer for up to three months.
If a customer’s circumstances change during this three month period or the terms of the house purchase change significantly and continuing with the mortgage would cause house buyers to face financial hardship, lenders will work with customers to help them manage their finances.
If your property is already on the market, you can continue to advertise it as being for sale but you should not allow people to view your property.
The buying and selling process can continue during this period 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.
- Advice for people to stay at home and away from others means you should not invite prospective buyers or advisors to your home.
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, we recommend that all parties should work to either delay the exchange of or include explicit contractual provisions to take account of the risks presented by the virus.
- Our team have devised a form of contract rider that allows for the completion date to be delayed due to COVID-19.
- Our conveyancers will continue to support the sales of unoccupied properties as far as possible.
- Conveyancers will make every effort to help and support clients who are due to complete on occupied properties in the stay-at-home period to change this date.
Surveyors have been advised not to carry out non-urgent surveys in homes where people are in residence, and no inspections will take place if any person in the property is showing symptoms, self-isolating or being shielded.
There will be people who have already committed to moving home; where possible they will be encouraged to delay their move but a small number of moves may need to go ahead. We would urge everyone to take sensible precautions to ensure the move can happen safely.
- Removers should honour existing commitments where it is clear that the move can be done safely for the client and staff and the moving date cannot be moved.
- Removers should follow the latest government guidance which currently states that work carried out in people’s homes can continue, provided the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms or COVID-19.
- It is important to ensure government guidelines are followed, including maintaining a two metre distance from others, and washing hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds.
- No work should be carried out by a person who has any COVID-19 symptoms
Contact our specialist conveyancing team
For more information and guidance on buying or selling a home during this difficult time, please contact a member of our expert residential conveyancing team.