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Property Market Opens for Business Again
It’s been at nearly two months since estate agents and removers have been able to have members of the public in their offices and visit the homes of customers. It’s been a hard few weeks for everyone in the property market.
On the 12th May the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick advised that the Covid-19 restrictions relating to the housing market could be altered. This is great news for the housing market which is so critical to the UK economy.
Karmen Waldron our Head of Residential Property gives her advice on things to think about given the new guidelines when buying or selling your home.
From Wednesday 13th May reasonable excuses for leaving your home include:
- Visiting estate agent’s offices (to include letting agents and show homes);
- Viewing a property with a view to buying or letting it;
- Moving house;
- Preparing a property to move in to it; and
- Visiting a residential property for any activity required for its sale or rental.
Of course, social distancing must be observed during all of these activities. Regulatory bodies such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors “RICS” and the British Association of Removers are issuing additional guidance to all of their members to keep them and their customers as safe as possible.
At WSP Solicitors we are really pleased to see the market moving again and many of our clients are keen to see the obstacles in the way of them moving reduced.
These are challenging times and as always we must exercise caution in the decisions we make. With that in mind we suggest that home movers and others involved in conveyancing transactions consider the following advice:
Putting your property on the market
If you are looking to sell don’t be frightened to ask your agent what Covid-19 policies they have in place and make sure you are comfortable with the social distancing measure that agent intends to use when visiting your property.
Reputable agents will be able to provide you with a detailed documents showing the steps they are taking to protect you and your family. They should carry out a risk assessment in respect of professionals visiting your house in relation to the sale (i.e. valuers, surveyors, EPC providers).
If you are not happy with the answers given, pick a different agent.
Visiting a property
If you are viewing a property with a view to buying it make sure you ask the agent beforehand how they will follow social distancing measures.
Also ensure that the agent has asked all occupiers of the property whether they have any Covid-19 symptoms or have been diagnosed with the virus.
While you are in the property take sensible precautions yourself. Don’t touch anything including door handles, ask for windows to be opened where possible and ensure that the viewing is a short as possible. Certainly not over 20 minutes.
Instruct a solicitor as early as possible, even before you have found a buyer if you are selling, or before you have found a property if you are buying. The earlier we have your paperwork the better position we are in to get going for you as soon as possible once a deal has been struck.
Once you have found a property or a buyer ask your solicitor for the paperwork you need to sign as soon as possible. Many lawyers are still working from home and this gives the maximum amount of time for signed documents to get to the right place. It is also tricky to find witnesses with social distancing measures in place, so again this gives you maximum time to get this sorted.
Most mortgage lenders require a valuation to be undertaken before they issue a mortgage offer. There are already serious backlogs of surveys waiting to be done, so if you are buying make an application for a mortgage as soon as you find a property and have an offer accepted. This will mean your application will join the queue for a survey as soon as possible.
Despite the restrictions being lifted we continue to advise our clients to exchange and complete on the same day wherever possible. The reason for this is that if you exchange in advance it takes just one person in the chain to display symptoms or be diagnosed for delays to take place.
Delays can be costly and if they are caused by you (eg if a member of your family shows symptoms on the day before you are moving) you could incur the additional costs that the whole chain faces. In addition, if the transaction is delayed by more than 10 working days, in some cases you could lose your deposit.
When it comes to moving, find a remover as soon as possible. Much like with estate agents check they are reputable and ask them how they will observe social distancing during your move.
Try and pack as many of your belongings yourself as you can and don’t offer your removers drinks unless they are single use bottles that can be easily disposed of. When you get to your new house clean down all surfaces and door handles before moving any of your belongings in. Do the same with all items that removers have touched after they have left.
We have no doubt that further guidance will be issued over the coming days and weeks and we are here to keep you updated and help you with your transaction.
Our dedicated Residential Property Team are here to help you with anything related to buying or selling your home. You can contact Karmen directly here or using the form in the sidebar of this page. Alternatively you can call us on 01452 411601. We are still here to make your life, less complicated.
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