Kiri Kkoshi, Head of Real Estate at Healys LLP, provides some advice to those in the process of buying and selling a home during the Coronavirus pandemic.
In light of the current pandemic, the government has recently announced restrictions on movement, which have instructed individuals and businesses to change the way in which they operate. This has created confusion amongst many homebuyers and sellers with regards to current transactions. We wanted to provide some answers to the questions you may have, which we hope will help clarify the current situation and support you with your property transaction going forwards.
What is happening with the conveyancing process?
The conveyancing process continues!
Our teams are currently set up to work remotely, as are many banks and agents. We remain in communication and we continue to complete transactions on behalf of our clients. Our dedicated conveyancing experts are contactable via telephone and email should you have any queries or concerns.
Will my transaction still go ahead?
In many circumstances – yes.
Though recent announcements by the government may potentially have an impact on your transaction, my team and I are dedicated in processing and completing as many as possible, and are equipped to do so. We are continuing to operate as normal and are in communication with all parties involved in the conveyancing sector.
The current guidance advises that if you have already exchanged and the property is vacant, the move should be able to go ahead. If you have already exchanged but the property is not vacant, you should try and agree a delayed completion. Where you have not exchanged, we would advise that you exchange with a delayed completion date, with a clause to complete earlier by mutual agreement. We can add provisions to your contract to protect you from legal complications caused by the lockdown.
Can I extend my completion date if I cannot move?
This would require all parties to agree to vary the terms of the contract so that completion takes place on another fixed date set within the next couple of months or earlier by mutual agreement. Please note that whilst we hope that all parties would take a pragmatic and reasonable approach to this, we cannot guarantee it. If, ultimately, your seller is not willing to agree this then you are contractually bound to complete and any failure to do so could result in serious financial consequences. We are however finding most people are being amenable to extensions.
Can I move into my new home?
Government guidelines advise people to delay moving home during the current lockdown if at all possible. The guidelines do acknowledge however that some moves may need to go ahead and confirm that removal companies should honour their existing commitments where the move can be carried out safely for all parties adopting the measures put in place by the government.
We would advise that you speak with your removal company as soon as possible to establish whether or not they can still assist with your move.
Please do bear in mind that government regulations in relation to the Coronavirus are subject to change.
My mortgage offer is going to expire before the Extension date; what can I do?
UK Finance have today confirmed that, 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.
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 as a matter of urgency.
As I cannot meet my solicitor, will this impact on the transaction?
No, it should not be necessary for you to see us in person. We will correspond by email, telephone or post. The distance between you and your Conveyancer is not relevant to your property transaction. However, some documents do require your signatures to be witnessed, and we are working with all parties to try to agree for this to be resolved using remote methods such as Skype or Video Calls. We are also working with other professionals involved in property transactions to establish a protocol for accepting scanned signed copy documents as opposed to originals.
Will I be able to speak to my Conveyancer whenever I need to?
Even though we are working remotely, we will always be available during normal working hours. Our direct lines are diverting to our mobiles and our reception is operating remotely. You can also contact us via email.
Kiri Kkoshi is a Partner and Head Of Real Estate at Healys LLP with over 25 years’ experience in dealing with all aspects of residential and commercial conveyancing. Her team are award-winning conveyancers able to assist with all property transactions.
For legal updates or legal advice, please visit our website at: www.healys.com