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Government publish guidance on moving home during coronavirus pandemic

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The Government has overnight published new guidance for those who are currently buying or selling a property.  In light of the current restrictions on movement across the UK and the importance of self-isolating, it is understandable that this will impact the property market in the coming months, and our Conveyancing team here advise on the new guidance from Government as well as how we are currently working to ensure the health and safety of our teams and clients.

Ongoing transactions

If you have already exchanged contracts, and you are purchasing a property which is vacant, then you may be able to continue with the purchase, although this will largely be dependent on the rest of the chain and their ability to move, as well as the ability for removal companies.  If the properties within the chain are currently occupied, the Government advice is to amicably agree alternative dates to move for a time when the restrictions have been lifted. 

While there is an exemption for critical home moves, for example where you have already exchanged contracts prior to the issue of the guidance and the parties cannot agree on a new date, due to the seriousness of our current situation we believe it is highly unlikely that it will be possible to exchange contracts with a fixed completion date unless there are provisions for completion when the stay at home restrictions have been lifted. We do have contractual clauses we can use for this and will discuss this with our clients on a case by case basis. 

Due to this new guidance, UK Finance have confirmed that banks and mortgage lenders are currently working towards extending mortgage offers for up to three months for those people who have already exchanged contracts and had set dates for completion.  

Selling your home

If 2020 was going to be your year for selling your home, then we would recommend that you speak with your estate agent about proceeding.  If your home is not yet on the market, you could instead use this time to collect the information you will need for future buyers and prepare your home for when this crisis has lifted.  If your home is on the market, due to the restrictions on movements, home viewings will not be possible, however you could discuss with your estate agent about conducting virtual viewings. 

You may wish accept an offer, however you should be aware that there will be significant delays and it is unlikely that any fixed dates would be able to be confirmed for completions, until the restrictions are lifted. 

Removal companies and surveyors

Surveyors have been advised not to carry out non-urgent surveys in homes where the property is occupied.  Online surveys, surveys on empty properties and surveys on properties where the occupants are out of the home while they have been observing the self-isolation rules could be completed, however this is very much the decision of the surveyor in questions and when done so, should be done following the Government guidance on social distancing. 

Removal companies are also being advised that any bookings they have that can be moved should be done so if possible.  For those where existing commitments cannot be moved, this must be done safely for both the persons moving and working.  Again, this will be a decision to be made by the removal company themselves, and if they continue to proceed should observe the Government guidance.

What are we doing at Warner Goodman LLP to assist with your move?

We care deeply about the level of service to our clients, but as ever we must abide with the Government’s rules surrounding the containment and halting the spread of the Coronavirus COVID-19.  People must stay at home unless they have one of the four reasons for leaving their home.  We must therefore all do our part to abide by the Government rules and the core policy of “stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives”.  

In order to comply with the rules as discussed above,we will be working with you to come up with the best solution for your transaction, but please do understand we can only work within the confines of the guidance.  Transactions that do not involve you physically moving on a specific day, for example if it involves an empty property or tenanted property, may still be able to proceed on a case by case basis, and we are of course on hand to discuss this with you.

We will continue to progress ongoing transactions to the best of our ability.   We trust you understand this decision and we thank you for your patience during these difficult times.

To discuss your individual move, please contact your Conveyancer directly.  We are currently working remotely and so you can contact us on the following details as normal:

Fareham: 01329 222096
Southampton: 023 8071 7422
Portsmouth:  023 9275 3575
Chandler’s Ford: 023 8071 7467
Waterlooville: 023 9277 6569