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Can I still move house during the Covid-19 outbreak and resulting restrictions on movement?

Can I still move house during the Covid-19 outbreak and resulting restrictions on movement?

The most recent Government advice regarding moving home says that you should stay in your home, a challenge legally if you have already exchanged contracts with a fixed completion date.  If you are purchasing an empty home the guidance is that there is no reason for this not to go ahead as planned (providing there are removers operating should you be relying on such a service).  If you are due to complete during current lockdown rules as part of a chain then things can be more challenging to organise, the guidance from the Government is that buyers and sellers should be reasonable and try to reach an agreement.  If a new date can be agreed then an amendment to the contract to defer completion is possible or it may be possible to rescind the original contract, put everyone back in the position they were in before exchanging contract and return deposit monies, this way no one is liable for failing to complete.

The Law Society have published their own guidance and possible solutions to achieving these measures and the Government has been advising and working with conveyancers to develop a standard legal process for changing completion dates, this will be made easier by the fact that mortgage lenders have been asked to agree to extend all current mortgage offers by three months to enable a delayed completion.  Lenders may of course ask for any new information regarding a persons personal financial situation before agreeing.  

Can I still market my home for sale and start the legal process?

There are no particular regulations which prevent people from trying to sell and buy a home during the lockdown except for the obvious challenges that the social distancing rules present.  Travelling to a viewing would probably be viewed as unnecessary travel by the authorities and allowing strangers into one’s home or to visit the homes of strangers is probably not high on anyone’s list of things to do.  Estate agents however have come up with ways of carrying out virtual viewings by live video streaming and some have trained vendors on how to do this themselves to best effect, it is apparent that even valuations are taking place in this way.

If a price can be agreed between a buyer and a seller then there is no reason and it is in fact probably sensible to instruct us as your solicitor to get things underway.  The fact is that things like applying, being approved for an obtaining a mortgage is going to take longer than usual as will arranging a survey.  Prior to the lockdown most conveyancing transactions took between 6-12 weeks and although at this stage it is not known how long the lock down might last,  by the end of the lockdown period many people who decide to move now and instruct us to work on their behalf should be at the point of discussing potential move dates and be able to talk to removal companies about potential move dates.

For those worried about incurring solicitors fees and ending up not moving for one reason or another, they should call and discuss our abort success scheme and also remember that we will only carry out work in accordance with your own instructions meaning we will work up to points of the transaction specified by you.

For more details contact Simon on 01273 223286