Posted On / 18.06.2020

Buying and selling property during the coronavirus

As the property market starts to make its way back to normality, Senior Associate Ross Siviter discusses the current property market and how a solicitor can help you in the buying and selling process.

1. How can someone contact a solicitor during the coronavirus pandemic?

Any member of the public can contact a local solicitor if they remain open and trading for business  by calling their usual  switchboard number, but they ought to be advised to check the law firm’s website in case there is a different number they should ring to make contact. Battens Solicitors Limited is  open for trading, as we have been throughout  lockdown, and are happy to assist existing and new clients with their transactions by contacting our usual switchboard number 0800 652 8373.

2. With consideration of the current circumstances surrounding coronavirus, how does the house buying and selling process now differ?

The legal  process of selling and buying a property remains the same although there are different measures in place for when someone comes to exchange contracts and complete their property sale or purchase. The current advice by Battens is to try wherever possible to agree a simultaneous exchange of contracts and completion- that is where exchange and completion occurs on the same day. This has been implemented to minimise the risk of the virus interfering with a transaction which could cause one or both parties to potentially breach their sale or purchase contract.

You will see changes to the way in which house viewings are being carried out, as these must now adhere to social distancing measures. We have seen a delay in the issue of some mortgage offers due to valuations not having taken place, but the Government has now given the green light for valuations to resume, providing again they are done so in line with social distancing measures.

3. What can someone do if their house purchase or sale is delayed due to coronavirus?

If there is a chance that a sale or purchase completion may be delayed, or will be delayed, that person should contact their solicitor immediately to discuss the different options available. It may be that a new completion date can be agreed with the solicitors acting for the other party. For example, if a party to a transaction is self isolating, that transaction would need to be delayed beyond the point at which that party is no longer infectious and it was safe to move. With co-operation of all parties involved in the transaction a favourable outcome for all can be achieved.

4. What advice would you give to someone looking to buy or sell a house during the coronavirus pandemic?

It is important to note that many transactions are still proceeding. We have many clients now buying and selling again and new instructions are coming in very quickly. If you are buying, be sure to get your finances in order. If you are looking to purchase with the aid of a mortgage, speak to a mortgage broker in advance of beginning your property search to discuss the current mortgage market, the availability of certain types of mortgages and the rates available. If you are selling, make sure your property and paperwork is in order prior to placing your property on the market and be mindful of the social distancing measures that will need to be in place should a potential buyer wish to view your property.

5. Will the process of buying or selling a property will be impacted by coronavirus in the long term?

It is still too early to say what the long term effects of the virus will be. Certainly there was a period of time where there were very few new instructions for property sales or purchases, but recently it does seem as though the market has picked up since the estate agents were permitted to re-open and viewings could re-commence. It will be interesting to see what happens over the coming months in the property market, but at present things are on the up once again.

For more information on our buying selling or transferring property services, contact Ross Siviter on 01935 846092 or ross.siviter@battens.co.uk We are able to offer telephone and videoconference meetings to take instructions regarding any legal matter.

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