Progressing With Property Transactions During Lockdown

Following guidance issued by the government on 26th March, many people may have the perception that all residential property work has come to a standstill.

However, this is not necessarily the case and in fact, we are still working and still exchanging and completing matters within the guidelines.

This blog explains the situations in which property moves can still progress and how our team can assist those in the midst of property transactions.

Taking new instructions

Although social distancing is preventing physical viewings from taking place, some people, perhaps those who have already seen a property previously or who are happy to undertake virtual video viewings, may still wish to proceed with making an offer.

To this end, offers can continue to be made and accepted on properties, and once this has happened, the transaction can largely continue on a remote basis until it comes to moving day.

Where a property is vacant, or where clients are purchasing new build properties, the government have advised that moves are still able to proceed, provided social distancing measures are followed.

Renegotiating on offers

The Coronavirus pandemic has created a great deal of uncertainty across many areas, including the housing market. For this reason, some buyers may decide that they want to try and renegotiate on an offer. The likelihood that a lower offer will be accepted depends on the stage of the process you are at and whether contracts have been exchanged. In any event, assistance from your solicitor will be required – to undertake the renegotiation, or certainly to amend the paperwork relating to the purchase – or both.

In the event that a mortgage valuation comes back lower than the price that has been agreed, it may be necessary for a vendor or a developer to agree to a reduced price in order for the transaction to continue.

Taking over instructions

Following the guidance issued by the government, some conveyancing firms or conveyancing departments within legal practices have effectively shut down, leaving many clients stuck with nowhere to turn to try and progress their purchase. If you find yourself in this position please do not hesitate to contact us and we will happily assist in taking your matters on to progress them to completion – hopefully this will ensure the chains complete for many other firms who are still continuing to progress matters too.

Although some clients will not have any immediate need to move, other factors may come into play where legal advice is needed or intervention is required. For example, many clients with mortgage offers in place may risk these expiring as they wait for a revised completion and moving date. It is likely that many mortgage providers will extend offers, but this process needs to be undertaken in plenty of time.

We are also assisting many clients who had already entered into contracts prior to the lockdown, writing a longstop date into the exchange contract that allows buyers to exit and get their deposits back if the purchase cannot be completed by a specific date. Many clients have found this extremely reassuring at this time as a way of securing the money they have invested to date.

The situation regarding Covid-19 is constantly evolving and we will continue to advise clients and help them to proceed with ongoing transactions as much as possible whilst ensuring they stay within the regulations.

Claire Egerton is Head of Residential Property at O’Donnell Solicitors.
For any further advice, please contact  Claire on 01457 761320 or email  claire.egerton@odonnellsolicitors.co.uk.

Here is just some of the recent feedback our property team have had from clients we have helped over the last few weeks…

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“I want to thank you for your professional work throughout this whole process, your communication was excellent and you made this journey a lot easier than I expected.”

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“Claire Egerton was my direct point of contact for my house purchase, she was absolutely fantastic throughout the process. She never missed to reply my emails or calls, all questions and queries were properly answered instantly. She was on top of the process and was doing everything well in advance. She made this process very easy for us. Regular communication (that’s what you need when you don’t know the process). All legal questions from contract were answered to my satisfaction before exchange. Highly recommended and A+++ service.”

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“…. thank you again for you and your teams handling of our house purchase, you have been incredible especially in such trying times.”

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Claire Egerton is Head of Residential Property at O’Donnell Solicitors.

For any further advice, please contact Claire on 01457 761320 or email Claire.Egerton@odonnellsolicitors.co.uk.