Published 01 May 2020

Locked in by Lock down? Buying and Selling During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

With so much uncertainty within the housing market during the recent pandemic, so many buyers and sellers are left wondering whether to proceed with their impending house transactions – especially in the lock down period.

We asked our partners at Direction Law one of our panel Solicitors, to provide some insight into how they are handling the buying and selling process during the outbreak and how the current environment affects current home movers.

Lucy Owen, Head of Resales at Direction Law states:

‘In short, buyers and sellers can definitely carry on their house moves if it is essential and government guidelines are being met.’

The Government has issued guidelines regarding house moves during the lock down period. In summary, guidelines state that if social distancing measures can be adhered to, then moves can proceed if it is critical for them to go ahead.

Lucy continues:

‘Effectively, this means that New Build purchases can proceed as normal, as properties are vacant and therefore minimal contact with other people is required for the move.

In the New Build Shared Ownership department of Direction Law, we have still been able to complete around 100 transactions in April for those clients whose moves were critical. 

Innovative ways of handing over the keys have been thought of by housing associations, for example using key boxes and texting the pass code to the buyer once completion has occurred.’

Many Housing Associations, are also conducting virtual tours of properties and agreeing lower reservation fees in a bid to keep the housing market flowing.

Helping each other through difficult times.

‘In the Resales Shared Ownership department of Direction Law, we are completing those clients who have either already exchanged Contracts and are unable to delay the completion date until after lock down. The same applies to clients whose moves are critical and can adhere to social distancing guidelines. 

With all other transactions, we are progressing them to the point of exchange. Fortunately, we often deal with the same solicitors within affordable housing, and the fantastic relationships that we have developed over the years are really paying off now in terms of helping each other throughout this difficult period.’

Mortgage Lenders Changing Their Views.

At the beginning of lock down, several lenders withdrew some of their higher loan to value mortgage products. There was also concern that existing mortgage applications could not be completed as surveyors were unable to inspect properties. However, recently mortgage lenders are now putting their higher loan to value mortgage products back in place and are using digital valuations in addition to physical ones.

While buyers and sellers may be nervous about the current housing market, it seems that companies at the forefront of processing housing transactions are in fact doing a great job at calming the fears of panicked home movers, by finding alternative methods to keep transactions moving forward to completion stage.

Lucy concludes:

‘Overall, the housing market and its partners are coping admirably well in this crisis, and are showing our ability to come up with alternative solutions on helping home movers complete their moving process with no issues. Critical transactions are proceeding as normal, even with changes to the normal methods and we are here to assure clients and make sure their needs are being met through this pandemic and beyond.’

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