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Living Room Cirencester
01285 239 486 (24/7)
Viewings 8am – 8pm 7 Days a Week

We feel this is a great article about the current situation regarding buying and selling property - published by Peter Ambrose

 

During the Second World War, the government promoted the idea that “carrots help you see in the dark”.  Whilst carrots contain vitamin A which can reduce the risk of vision loss, they certainly do not help night vision.

The story was designed for two reasons.  Firstly, the RAF were using new technology to spot bombers in the dark and to throw the enemy off track, they claimed pilots could see in the dark because they ate a lot of carrots.  Secondly, they wanted the public to eat more vegetables and be better able to deal with the frequent air raid blackouts, so this idea was useful here as well.

Which does beg the following question?

What has eating carrots got to do with the appallingly difficult predicament we find ourselves in, and, given that I run a conveyancing company, where are we going with this?

Government guidance or the law?

When governments give advice, like “eat more carrots” people typically believe it and comply.  That’s why, on the Monday, when the government told everyone to stay at home if they could, despite there being no law in place, as it was in the public interest, most people did.

When the regulations were published on the following Thursday, it was clear the restrictions on movement stated within it, did not apply to those looking to move house where reasonably necessary.  This was positive news for everyone in the property industry.

Sadly, that same industry was brought down to earth with a bump the following morning, when the front pages of newspapers, and the radio and television news all advised people not to move house.

These media stories were based on advice the government had released saying that, where possible, people should not move – somewhat contradicting what they had enacted in law a few hours earlier.  However, they did suggest that for those people that did need to move, then flexibility was key.

So what should lawyers do?

The mere suggestion by conveyancing solicitors that they would continue to help their clients move towards exchange brought angry exchanges online.   Commentators who had previously bemoaned the lack of urgency from lawyers, now condemned those as irresponsible for carrying on working.

Lawyers are caught between a rock and a hard place – to continue to work and keep deals moving or not?

We are aware of lawyers following the Law Society’s advice and are not helping their clients move towards exchange.  The argument is based on the idea that if a client cannot meet the agreed completion date, the lawyer should have advised them not to exchange.  The other, more depressing question, is what happens if people die between exchange and completion.

The fundamental problem with both these arguments is that these conditions exist and are dealt with during normal day to day conveyancing – legally, the current, albeit terrible situation is no different.

For example, when buying a newbuild property, completion dates are, by the very nature of development, constantly changing, and there are standard mechanisms in place already to deal with these.

Sadly, people do die between exchange and completion (indeed, in December 2019, we had to deal with two cases) and again, there are standard processes and procedures that are followed in such cases.

The reality of the situation is this.  Our clients want to move house and it is our job to help them achieve this.  Obviously, we must ensure they are following guidelines to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and not putting people’s lives at risk but that does not mean that we should stop working for them.

Conclusion

We believe those lawyers that have chosen to stop working and are not helping their clients through the process, are not acting in their best interests, and that is unacceptable.

Whilst we are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t, we believe it is in everyone’s interests for lawyers to continue working towards exchange of contracts.  There are standard mechanisms in place such as completing “on notice” and simple clauses that can be used to help give our clients the certainty and protection they need.  Last week, we have been sharing these with agents to give to lawyers who don’t know how to draft them, and this has helped them get deals over the line.

We believe 100% in following government guidance, but like the carrots, things are rarely as black and white as the media would like to make it.

😍😀 This is just what we needed to cheer us up today - thank you Simon, your 5 STAR review is really appreciated 😍😀 #review #adkins #property #realestate #thankyou #difficulttimes #keeppositive #keepsafe #keepwell #sendinglove

Buying and Selling Homes during this stay-at-home period

Given the situation in the UK with regard to the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), we urge parties involved in home moving to adapt and be flexible to alter their usual processes.

There is no need to pull out of transactions, but we all need to ensure we are following guidance to stay at home and away from others at all times, including the specific measures for those who are presenting symptoms, self-isolating or shielding. Prioritising the health of individuals and the public must be the priority.

Where the property being moved into is vacant, then you can continue with this transaction although you should follow the guidance in this document on home removals. Where the property is currently occupied, we encourage all parties 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.

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.

Recognising parties will need to alter common practice, we have sought to ease this process for all involved by:

  1. Issuing this guidance, developed with Public Health England, to home buyers and those involved in the selling and moving process;
  2. Agreeing with banks that mortgage offers should be extended where delay to completions takes place in order to prioritise safety; and,
  3. Working with Conveyancers to develop a standard legal process for moving completion dates.

Advice to the public

What does this mean for my property move which is scheduled whilst the stay-at-home measures to fight coronavirus (COIVD-19) apply?

  • Home buyers and renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while measures are in place to fight coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Our advice is that if you have already exchanged contracts and the property is currently occupied then all parties should work together to agree a delay or another way to resolve this matter.
  • 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 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.

What if an extension goes beyond the terms of a mortgage agreement?

UK Finance have today confirmed that, to support customers who have already exchanged contracts for house purchases and set dates for completion, 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.

If your home is not yet on the market

Getting your home onto the market may be more challenging than usual in this period.There should be no visitors to your home. You can speak to Estate Agents over the phone and they will be able to give you general advice about the local property market and handle certain matters remotely but they will not be able to start actively marketing your home in the usual manner.

  • If you are thinking about selling, you can use this time to start gathering together all of the information you will need to provide to potential purchasers.
  • Advice for people to stay at home and away from others means you should not invite unnecessary visitors into your home, including: Property Agents to carry out a market appraisal or take internal photographs prior to marketing your home; and Energy Performance Certificate assessors.

Viewings

If your property is already on the market, you can continue to advertise it as being for sale but you should not allow people in to view your property.

  • There should not be any visitors into your home, and you should therefore not let people visit your property for viewings. Your agent may be able to conduct virtual viewings and you could speak to them about this possibility.

Accepting offers

The buying and selling process can continue during this period but you should be aware that the process is likely to take longer than normal.

  • You are free to continue to accept offers on your property, however the selling process may take longer.
  • Advice for people to stay at home and away from others means you should not invite visitors into your home, including prospective buyers or advisors.

Exchanging contracts

Once you have exchanged contracts, you have entered into a legal agreement to purchase that home.

  • If the property you are purchasing is unoccupied you can continue with the transaction.
  • If the property you are purchasing is currently occupied, we recommend that all parties should work to either delay the exchange of contracts until after the period where stay-at-home measures to fight coronavirus (COVID-19) are in place, or include explicit contractual provisions to take account of the risks presented by the virus.

Advice to industry

All businesses must follow the Government’s latest Guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19).

Estate Agents

Estate Agents should ensure they are able to support clients during this period:

  • Agents should work with their clients and other agents to broker a new date to move where sales are due to complete on occupied properties in the current period where emergency measures are in place to fight coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Agents should prioritise support for anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, and those they are in chain with, to agree a new date.
  • In line with advice for certain businesses to close, agents should not open branches to the public during this period, or visit people’s homes to carry out market appraisals.
  • Agents should ensure that employees can work from home, to support existing clients and advise potential new clients.
  • Agents should continue to progress sales where this can be done whilst following guidance to stay at home and away from others.
  • Agents should advise clients to be patient and not to exchange contracts unless the contracts have explicit terms to manage the timing risks presented by the virus.

 

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

 

Maintenance on rental homes can still be carried out, the Government has confirmed.

The guidance, issued yesterday, says:

“Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms.

“It will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a two metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.

“No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so.

“In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.

“No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.”

 

** Unavoidable moves can go ahead says Government **

The Government has said that house moves can, if absolutely unavoidable, go ahead. It has asked membership organisations to disseminate the following message:
 

“Home buyers and renters should, as far as possible, delay moving to a new house while emergency measures are in place to fight coronavirus.

“If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on social distancing to minimise the spread of the virus.

“Anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice and not move house for the time being.”

The statement adds:

 

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