Residential property transactions & coronavirus

Thursday 16th April 2020

The Government confirmed in late March that home moves can, if absolutely unavoidable, go ahead. However, while emergency measures are in place moves should be delayed as far as possible. Where moves do go ahead, all individuals involved in moving must follow Government guidance on social distancing and hygiene (which can be found here).

A Government Spokesperson said last month:  

“Home buyers and renters should, as far as possible, delay moving to a new house while emergency measures are in place to fight coronavirus. If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on social distancing to minimise the spread of the virus. Anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice and not move house for the time being.”

Where does that leave home buyers & home movers?

There are some transactions that can proceed where they don’t usually involve social interaction. Some common questions and answers are listed below but the overriding point is to remember that social distancing must be maintained.

Can I still purchase a buy-to-let property?

Yes, as long as the property is empty or the tenants are not moving. If the purchase involves moving people, that is where the risk is.

Can I proceed with a right to buy or right to acquire?

Yes, but you may have difficulties if the property has not yet been valued. Please check with your landlord.

Can I move if I have already exchanged Contracts?

This may be possible as it is likely to fall within the ‘absolutely unavoidable’ moves highlighted by the Government. If you are a client of Waldrons, we will have already discussed this with you.

Can I remortgage?

Yes, as this doesn’t involve moving people and a remortgage rarely involves needing a visit for a valuation.

Can a transfer of ownership/transfer of equity be completed?

Yes, transferring ownership can be completed but you will need to think about living arrangements after the transfer if for example this involves transferring ownership due to a relationship breakdown.

I am an executor selling a house with a grant of probate. Can the sale proceed?

As the property is likely to be unoccupied, there is no reason why this cannot proceed.

I am buying a house that is the subject of a grant of probate. Can I continue with the purchase?

Assuming that the property is unoccupied, yes, this can proceed.

Can I buy or sell an unoccupied property?

Yes, as this doesn’t involve moving people.

I am buying the house that I already live in. Can I complete the purchase?

Yes, because you are not moving home.

Are there any other transactions that will be unaffected?

There may be other specific circumstances that mean you don’t have to delay. The key point is that moves should be delayed where they involve moving people.  

When will the housing market get back to normal?

We are seeking urgent clarification as to how moves can proceed while maintaining social distancing but in the meantime, this will be determined by the Government lifting restrictions. Please keep checking back on our website or follow us on social media and we will provide updates as soon as we have news to share.

Whether you are a current or prospective client, please be assured that we will provide the same excellent level of service that we have always provided.  If you are a prospective client, please give us a call on 01384 811 811 or email to find out how we can help.