Can I still move house given the Coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis?
In theory yes but there are a number of new factors involved which need to be considered.
Moving house is a stressful business and the added worries surrounding the current crisis are exacerbating matters. Assuming that you have found your dream house prior to the Government lockdown and the legal process has started there are now a number of potential issues which have never presented themselves before to persons buying or selling a property. These are:-
- Communicating with all parties involved in the transaction may be harder than usual with many organisations operating reduced hours or staffing to ensure compliance with Government advice.
- Mortgage offers being delayed as mortgage valuations cannot be undertaken with valuers being unable or unwilling to now attend a property for personal safety or following advice from their professional body or the Government.
- Mortgage lenders potentially withdrawing a mortgage offer to someone in the chain due the economic uncertainty being created or someone in the chain losing their employment as a consequence of the crisis.
- Removal companies being unable or unwilling to attend a property for personal safety or following advice from their professional body or the Government.
- Someone in the chain is in self isolation following Government advice.
- Someone in the chain has been diagnosed with Coronavirus.
- Searches being delayed as many Local Councils are operating reduced services.
- Moving house possibly not being regarded as “essential” during the lockdown.
Whilst there is much potential uncertainty property transactions are still proceeding with the help of some creative thinking by lawyers. The solutions are not ideal but are a “sticking plaster” to get the job done. Whilst these “sticking plasters” can’t solve every issue they can at least ensure that someone is not left committed to sell or buy following an exchange of contracts and find a mortgage offer is withdrawn, can’t get removals or a Coronavirus related issue arises. When moving the usual option for house buyers and sellers is to exchange contracts and then agree a completion date a week or so later. Lawyers have worked together to agree that to avoid such issues arising following exchange of contracts and thus leaving people committed to move without funds e.t.c transactions will proceed to exchange and complete on the same day. They have also agreed revised legal processes relating to how documentation will be sent which would ordinarily be required to be by hard copy on completion. Lawyers can therefore ensure that on the day the monies are in, all legal documentation is held by the lawyers, all parties have removals and there are no Coronavirus issues. It is not ideal as all parties are left waiting and hoping that the move will happen on the day all parties are aiming for but the risks are far less than agreeing an exchange and being legally committed to move and potentially forfeiting a deposit, not having mortgage monies in, not having a removal company ready to move you or someone unable or unwilling to move due to the Coronavirus.
For those transactions which can’t currently proceed it is recommended that they are simply put on hold pending the current issues resolving themselves with lawyers working from home to keep things ticking over in the meantime and ensuring all parties are kept up dated where relevant.
For any further advice on moving house during the Coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis then please contact us at GA Solicitors on 01752 203500 or contact one of our property lawyers via their direct dial number detailed on our website at www.gasolicitors.com.