COVID-19: Your Conveyancing Questions Answered.
Rachel Attfield, our Conveyancing Solicitor, answers your queries and concerns regarding the buying and selling of houses during these challenging times:
Q: I have just found a buyer for my house and have had an offer accepted on our new house – can I still instruct you to act for me?
Yes, we are still able to take your instructions and would be delighted to do so. Other than face to face meetings the transaction can proceed as normal. Please telephone the office so that we can provide you with a quote and once you authorise us to proceed we would take detailed instructions from you so that we can open a file. Part of the conveyancing process is to verify your identity and although normally clients would come into the office to do this we are able to proceed remotely through the wizardry of modern technology or alternatively if this is not an option for you we can start to progress the matter and you can visit the office when the restrictions are lifted.
Q. Will I still be able to deal with the solicitor dealing with my matter now we are in lockdown?
Definitely! The majority of our team are set up working from home now and the transaction can be dealt with by way of emails and telephone calls. A skeleton staff remain at the office and they are processing the post that comes in and ensuring that it is emailed to us. Other firms of solicitors and estate agents are similarly working remotely and so transactions are proceeding. The transaction may take a little longer than normal but we can ensure that it is progressed as far as possible for when the restrictions are lifted.
Q: We are under pressure to exchange contracts, but I am worried we won’t be able to move should we complete?
We would not advise you to exchange contracts until you instruct us that you are satisfied that you will actually be able to physically move into your property. The majority of removal firms are not operating at the moment due to the government restrictions but of course it may be possible for you to move yourself. The most important thing is that you and your household keep safe and keep to the government’s guidance on social isolating and only leaving the property if it is essential. If it is possible to wait until the current restrictions are lifted this would be the best option.
There is some concern reported in the news that banks may withdraw mortgage offers. We would not exchange until we knew that the funds to complete were in place. Sometimes that may mean that we would exchange and complete on the same day which whilst not ideal would ensure in these changing times that you are not in breach of contract should the government’s restrictions tighten in the meantime.
The government’s advice is where the property being moved into is vacant, then you can continue with this transaction. Where the property is currently occupied, all parties should be encouraged to do what they can to amicably agree 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.
Q. Am I still able to put my property on the market for sale?
Getting your home onto the market may be more challenging than usual in this period. There should be no visitors to your home.
You can certainly speak to estate agents over the phone and they will be able to give you general advice about the local property market and handle certain matters remotely but they will not be able to start actively marketing your home in the usual manner. 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. Advice for people to stay at home and away from others means you should not invite unnecessary visitors into your home, including property agents to carry out a market appraisal or take internal photographs prior to marketing your home and Energy Performance Certificate assessors. You could also use the time to ensure that the property looks its best for when the restrictions are lifted.
If you have any additional questions or concerns, whether in relation to an existing transaction or a matter you have not yet contacted Manners Pimblett (incorporating Savilles Solicitors) about, please feel free to e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org.