The advice is clear “There is no need to pull out of transactions”. However, we all need to do our part in ensuring we follow the guidance to stay away from others at all times. Therefore, if the property is vacant, you can proceed to exchange and complete. The transaction should continue without being affected. If however the property is occupied, then it is advised to agree alternatives dates to complete at a time when the stay at home restrictions are lifted. Mortgage lenders have been advised to extend buyers mortgage offers to support borrowers who have already exchanged. The Government advised “If the property you are purchasing is currently occupied, we recommend that all parties should work to either delay the exchange of contracts 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 Portner, we had already started to protect clients and negotiate COVID-19 related clauses in our Contracts that were ready to exchange.
However, the Government understands that in some circumstances delaying completion where you have already exchanged (without COVID-19 related “delay/get out” clauses) may not be possible due to the contractual provisions already entered into. In such circumstances they have advised as follows: “If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on staying away from others to minimise the spread of the virus.”
It is clear from the advice that the Government wants all parties involved to work together to allow transactions to proceed as smoothly as possible during this difficult time.
The Government have also advised that the restrictions should not stop you starting the process of selling if you wish to put your property on the market. Their advice is to use this time to get the ball rolling. If your home is not yet on the market speak to your local agents who will be able to advise you how they can actively market your property without having to actually visit your property. They advise as follows “If you are thinking about selling, you can use this time to start gathering together all of the information you will need to provide to potential purchasers…….Your agent may be able to conduct virtual viewings and you could speak to them about this possibility…….The buying and selling process can continue during this period but you should be aware that the process is likely to take longer than normal”.
At Portner, we are operating a policy of ‘business as usual’ as far as practicable given the circumstances, and we are advising clients on their individual needs and guiding them through the process and any problems they may encounter.
What we will say is please do not let coronavirus halt or derail your property transactions. Our specialist team at Portner are here to help. If you have any questions at all about a property transaction, whether you are buying, selling or remortgaging please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 020 7616 5300.