The government’s amendments to the COVID-19 Regulations on moving home will have come as a relief to those who have seen their sales and purchases stall since the beginning of the lockdown, as well as those in the property industry.
Public Health England is keen to emphasise that these changes do not represent a return to normality, but a need to adapt, create practices and procedures to ensure that the risk of spread of the coronavirus is reduced as far as possible. These include virtual viewings; leaving your property whilst others are shown around and ensuring this is thoroughly cleaned before someone else moves in.
Placing your property on the market during COVID-19
Spring has typically been a time when those intending to move have placed their property on the market, however this year this has coincided with the lockdown coming into place. Now that these measures have been relaxed it is the ideal time to contact your estate agent and prepare your property for sale. You can do this by:
- Gathering all documentation and information about the property (including copies of planning permissions, building regulations completion certificates, certificates for electrical work etc.).
- Asking your legal adviser to provide you with proforma enquiries to begin completing (this will flush out matters in respect of which you will need to provide documentation).
- Instructing your legal adviser to deal with any defects in the property’s title (for example if this is unregistered);
- Discussing practical issues and solutions with your estate agent based on what you feel comfortable with in terms of viewings;
You may have found that as soon as the lockdown measures hit, your transaction ‘stalled’; perhaps as a result of your buyer’s mortgage application being delayed or a party in the chain being classed as clinically vulnerable. Now that the measures have been relaxed you may start finding that parties are pressing for exchange of contracts.
Before you exchange contracts, consider the following:
- Discuss with your legal adviser the need to ensure that any contract you enter into has sufficient flexibility to allow completion to be delayed in the event someone in the chain contracts the coronavirus or has to self-isolate;
- Consider whether your circumstances allow you to simultaneously exchange and complete on the same day, to avoid the risk of someone in the chain contracting the coronavirus or self-isolating in between exchange and completion;
- Start contacting removal companies now to check availability and also how they are following the government’s guidance on safer working;
- Consider that you should try and do as much of the packing yourself as possible and this may need to be factored into when agreeing the gap between exchange and completion.
Ahead of the completion day think about what arrangements need to be in place so that you and your household feel safe and adhere to social distancing rules:
- Discuss with your legal adviser the anticipated time for completion;
- Speak to the estate agents as to what arrangements are in place for key drop off and collection, as well as whether steps are being taken for the keys to be appropriately cleaned before handover;
- Whilst the removers are in your home ensure any internal doors are open and seek to minimise contact with them or make alternative arrangements for members of your household to be out of the property during that time.
In addition to adapting to the ‘new normal’ when selling and buying, it is clear that all parties involved do need to be as flexible as possible and agree amicable arrangements. The residential property team at Moore Barlow is here to help.