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  • Ed Phillips

How Coronavirus (COVID-19) has Affected Property Transactions

In this guide we consider how and why property transactions have been affected by the current Coronavirus pandemic, and what is/isn’t permitted under current Government guidelines.

There are no restrictions on the buying/selling transactions themselves, but in most cases the physical act of moving would contravene guidance to stay at home and away from others at all times. This will be of particular relevance to those who are presenting symptoms, self-isolating or shielding.

The most appropriate approach depends on the individual situation.

Vacant Properties

If you are moving to a property that is vacant, it is generally deemed acceptable to continue with the transaction although you should follow guidance on home removals.

Occupied Properties

Where the property is currently occupied, all parties are encouraged to do all they can to amicably agree alternative dates to move, for a time when it is likely that stay-at-home measures against Coronavirus (COVID-19) will no longer be in place. If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on staying away from others to minimise the spread of the virus.

In the new emergency enforcement powers that the police have been given to respond to Coronavirus, there is an exemption for critical home moves, in the event that a new date is unable to be agreed.

Medical Considerations

In line with Government’s advice, anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice which will mean not moving house for the time being, if at all possible. All parties should prioritise agreeing amicable arrangements to change move dates for individuals in this group, or where someone in a chain is in this group.

Mortgage Offer Extensions

All mortgage lenders are working to find ways to enable customers who have exchanged contracts to extend their mortgage offer for up to three months to enable them to move at a later date.

If a customer’s circumstances change during this three month period, or the terms of the house purchase change significantly and continuing with the mortgage would cause house buyers to face financial hardship, lenders will work with customers to help them manage their finances as a matter of urgency.

Please get in touch if we can be of any assistance with your property transaction. You may also be interested in our guide to getting a mortgage during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

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