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COVID-19: Property market reopening – but proceed with caution


Licensed conveyancer Peter Pownall says that although it’s good new to see the property market opening, we should give a lot of thought to how we react…

So the Government have deemed it safe for estate agents to open up and the property market to re-start, allowing prospective buyers to inspect properties in which the sellers are living – even though restrictions still apply to families meeting as a group to try to prevent the spread of the virus.

A strange decision which the Government may be hard pressed to justify.

The majority of the residential property market has been dormant since mid-March but the Government appears to be keen on it restarting so that, no doubt amongst other things, the Stamp Duty Land Tax coffers can be re-filled.

However, we urge that you do not rush in to any hasty decisions no matter how excited you may be. The purchase of a home or moving home is likely to be the biggest investment you will ever make.

Take your time to consider all aspects of the transaction. A new aspect you need to consider is whether moving into a property where people you do not know have been living is wise, taking into account the Covid 19 pandemic. Your priority must be to keep you and your family safe.

You also need to consider whether, if you have been furloughed from your employment, this will have any effect on any mortgage you are obtaining.

You need to liaise with your lender or mortgage broker as a mortgage offer can be withdrawn at any time and for any reason before the mortgage has completed even in a situation where you have already exchanged contracts.

The Government has indicated to lenders that they should extend mortgage offers by three months, but it is not the Government’s money so lenders can make their own rules.

Our Morecrofts Property Team has continued to work through lockdown, most of the time remotely from home. We can deal with most matters through our case management system and emails. We are here to help you as much as we can.

Government advice;

  • Initial viewings should be done virtually wherever this is possible and property agents should help you to do this.
  • All physical viewings should be limited to members of the same household and open house viewings should not take place.
  • When physically viewing properties, where possible, you should avoid touching surfaces, wash your hands regularly, and bring your own hand sanitiser. The number of people on a viewing should be minimised to those from your household that absolutely have to be there. If you need to be accompanied by small children, you should try to keep them from touching surfaces and ensure they wash their hands regularly.
  • If people are being shown around your current home, you should open all internal doors and ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned after each viewing with standard household cleaning products.
  • As most people choose to, we recommend that you vacate your property whilst viewings are taking place in order to minimise your contact with those not in your household.
  • Anyone involved in any aspect of the home moving process should practice social distancing in line with public health advice.
  • When moving between properties, you and those in your household should try to do as much of the packing yourself as you can. Where this is not possible, you should speak to removal firms in advance. There is further advice about this below.
  • If you are particularly worried about the risk of infection, then speak to the professionals involved, your landlord, estate agent or removers as they may be able to put in place extra measures.

For full government guidance on buying and selling a home in the current pandemic, visit their advice page here

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