New guidelines for property moves during the COVID-19 outbreak

As with most industries, the property market has succumbed to the effects of COVID-19 and has recently had new guidance put in place to protect all parties involved. To help you understand what that means check out our guide right here.

The main take-home advice is that there is no need to pull out of transactions. However, for now, the priority is we should all ensure we are following the guidance by the government 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.

Moving to a vacant property?

The government says that where the property being moved into is vacant, then you can continue with this transaction although you should follow the guidance on home removals. This means that removal companies should honour their existing commitments where it is clear that the move can be done safely for the client and its own staff and it is clear that the moving date cannot be moved.

Moving to a property that is occupied?

If the property is currently occupied, the government is encouraging all parties to do all they can to amicably agree to 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.

How does a delayed completion date affect my mortgage offer?

The good news here is that UK Finance have 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 3 months to enable them to move at a later date.

If a customer’s circumstances change during this 3 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.

Exchanging contracts

While normally you’d been keen to tick off this milestone it’s worth remembering that once you have exchanged contracts, you have entered into a legal agreement to purchase that home.

Currently, the advice is:

  • If the property you are purchasing is unoccupied you can continue with the transaction
  • If the property you are purchasing is currently occupied, the government recommends that all parties should work to either delay completion 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

Here at enact conveyancing, we are closely following the government’s advice to support the sales of properties as far as possible.

For the full guidance from the Government please see: Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

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