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Conveyancing during Coronavirus: where we are at the moment

02/04/2020

Author: Rachael Hughes

Legal Updates, Property

As with many other transactions, the current coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact within the residential property sector. Many house sale and purchase transactions have been stalled, with individuals left unsure where they stand or what to do next.

Our residential conveyancing team are monitoring the situation closely, and experienced Conveyancing Executive Rachael Hughes provides answers to our most frequently asked questions here. Please note that we would treat every transaction based on our individual client’s needs and circumstances, and the situation is moving rapidly, so please do contact us directly if you have any specific queries at all. Call 10603 660 811 or email info@hatchbrenner.co.uk

Am I allowed to move house?

The Government issued guidance on Friday 27 March which advised people in the process of moving to delay where possible. Both buyers and sellers are being urged to approach timelines with practicality and flexibility to extend moving dates until the current social distancing, hygiene and lockdown measures have been eased. There may be exceptions in specific circumstances where the parties cannot agree to an extension, or the move is classed as ‘critical’ – it is best to explore this directly with your conveyancing lawyers.

I am due to move into a house which is currently empty. Can I still go ahead?

Yes, in these specific circumstances, the Government have indicated that moving may still be possible, if everyone concerned adheres to the relevant social distancing and coronavirus spread prevention guidelines.

I have coronavirus symptoms. Should I pull out of our house move?

Yes, absolutely delay, although this may not mean that you have to pull out completely. Anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice and not move house for the time being. Once the isolation period has passed, there is no reason that you cannot work with your conveyancing solicitors and estate agent to agree delayed dates for your house move.

Our contracts have already exchanged. Are they still valid?

Yes. Conveyancing bodies including the Law Society, the Society of Licensed Conveyancers, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, Bold Legal Group, the Conveyancing Association, and HM Land Registry have come together to agree a draft clause to amend any existing contracts when varying a completion date. This collaborative working is very encouraging and we expect to see more of this as the pandemic’s effects continue. We would exchange a written agreement to alter the existing contract, and either ask you to sign electronically, or for you to authorise us to sign on your behalf, to formally exchange documents.

If my completion date is extended, does it mean my mortgage offer will become invalid?

The majority of banks and building societies have announced an extension in mortgage offers to respond to the lengthening in overall conveyancing timelines – particularly where contracts have already been exchanged and completion dates agreed, where current mortgage extensions of up to three months apply. Depending on the specific lender, this could allow for a delay to the start date of the mortgage deal, or an extension of the mortgage deal at the end of its term.

What about my survey?

Again, the official advice is to delay any survey where possible to adhere to the latest coronavirus guidelines. We would help our clients and everyone in the transaction chain to understand the implications of the delay on the next steps towards exchange and completion.

I want to put my house on the market. What has changed? Can I still go ahead?

Whilst you can still put your house up for sale, you will not be allowed to let people into your house to view it. As seen across the industry, many estate agents are looking at innovative methods to operate and work from their homes given social distancing. We are able to recommend several trusted Estate Agent contacts who can talk you through your options.

Read more: Why choose us for your conveyancing?

Rachael Hughes Hatch Brenner Conveyancing Executive

Rachael Hughes, Norwich Conveyancing Executive

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