The current restrictions on our freedom of movement during the Covid-19 pandemic mean that the process of moving to a new home has changed for the foreseeable future.
The full government guidance on moving home during the pandemic can be found here.
The government has imposed restrictions on how and when we may move from one property to another during the conveyancing process. There are also restrictions on how we may view a property, with many estate agents now offering prospective buyers a virtual viewing experience as an alternative, using video technology. However, the current restrictions do not mean that residential property transactions should grind to a halt. It is safe to propose that the need to buy and sell properties will remain when the restrictions are relaxed; therefore, if you are buying or selling a property, you may wish to place yourself in a better position to kick-start your transaction, by ensuring that you are ready to proceed quickly when the government restrictions are lifted.
What can a seller do to progress a transaction whilst the stay-at-home restrictions are in place?
There is a lot of groundwork that can be completed during the stay-at-home period. This includes gathering the required information, to be provided to a prospective buyer. By instructing us at the same time as your estate agent, we can assist you with this groundwork, so that your transaction is ready to proceed as quickly as possible. For example, we can assist with the following:
- Forms and documents:
There are numerous detailed information questionnaires and forms that a seller will need to provide to a buyer. These documents can take some time to complete, so getting this part of the process out of the way now, will help to minimise delays when you are ready to proceed. We can also provide facilities to allow you to sign your documents electronically.
- Verification of Identification (ID) documents:
The stay-at-home restrictions may make it difficult for you to arrange to get your ID documents checked by a solicitor. We can advise you on how to overcome any difficulties regarding the checking of your ID documents and we have resources in place to check your ID securely, as well as remotely.
- Title checks:
We can conduct initial checks at the Land Registry to identify any potential legal title issues that may delay the progress of your transaction and we can provide advice on how you may resolve these issues before marketing the property.
- Leasehold properties:
When selling a leasehold property, you will need to provide certain information to your buyer. This information is usually contained in a pack referred to as a ‘Leasehold Information Pack’ or a ‘Management Pack’ and it is obtained from your landlord or the landlord’s managing agent. This information can take several weeks to arrive, so it is important that a request is submitted to your landlord and/or the landlord’s managing agent as soon as possible. By instructing us to obtain this information now, we can provide as much information as possible to your buyer, so that you are less likely to experience a delay when the restrictions are lifted.
- Lease extension:
If you are planning to sell a leasehold property that has a remaining lease term of less than 90 years and you have owned the property for at least two years, you may wish to consider extending the lease, as properties with shorter leases are less valuable than properties with long leases. In addition, some mortgage companies can refuse to lend against 80- or 90- year leases. We can guide you through the options available to extend your lease, so that you can make the best cost-effective decision for your circumstances.
What can a buyer do to progress a transaction whilst the stay-at-home restrictions are in place?
If you are thinking of buying a property, we can check your ID documents and we can begin to review the title documents supplied by your seller’s solicitors. We can also prepare initial enquiries and order searches to avoid unnecessary delays when the stay-at-home period ends.
Surveyors are being advised not to carry out non-urgent surveys and mortgage valuations whilst the restrictions are in place; however, it may be possible to conduct some of the work online. Several surveyors have upgraded their desktop valuation services in response to the government guidance, so that they are able to confirm the value of a property without visiting it. In addition, some lenders are utilising alternative methods to value a property, such as Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) and remote desktop valuations. However, an inspection of a property is likely to be delayed during the pandemic, where lenders are unable to utilise alternative valuation methods.
How can Patron Law help?
We appreciate that buying and/or selling a property can be very stressful and the current health crisis may heighten your anxiety and concerns during this process. Our Property Team is here to answer your questions and help you navigate through the conveyancing process during this difficult time.
For further information, please contact lawyer, Shennell Richards, on 0203 841 7473 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice.