Homebuyers Left in Limbo by COVID-19

The Government has rightly focussed on the bigger picture in dealing with the coronavirus crisis. Now that the major restrictions to our lives have been put in place, more practical questions are being raised. Schools are closed, but what happens about exam grades and moving on to further education? Citizens are to keep their distance from each other, but does this mean tradespeople can no longer work in people’s homes? Are courting couples allowed to visit each other?

These questions are gradually being answered, but new issues are also coming to light. Only this week, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said that people should hold back on moving house unless contracts had already been exchanged. Even this is at odds with official policy, which states that people should avoid leaving the house except to buy food or medicines, for exercise, or to get to their place of work if unable to work from home.

Other factors affecting house moves are also emerging. Banks and building societies are stopping or vastly reducing mortgage lending due to reductions in staff levels and a reluctance to commit funds at such an uncertain time for the economy. Even obtaining a mortgage valuation and arranging a survey may be impossible.

It appears, for now at any rate, that completions can still go ahead if all parties are in agreement. However, on a practical level moving house may still be difficult, as many removal companies are cancelling jobs to protect their staff or as workers self-isolate. Restrictions on personal movement may well get even tighter in the coming weeks as the predicted peak of coronavirus cases hits the country, which will make moving house even more difficult.

What Can Homeowners Do?

In terms of speeding up their house move, very little under the current restrictions. However, for anyone who was about to put their property on the market the lockdown presents an ideal opportunity to literally get their house in order. With restrictions on unnecessary journeys, the enforced closure of pubs, restaurants, cinemas and other recreational venues, the majority of the country is left with time on its hands like never before. Why not use that time to make sure your property is presented in the best possible light for prospective viewers? Mow the lawn, remove weeds from flower beds and driveways, and tidy away bins. Some local garden centres and nurseries are offering deliveries. Inside the house, thoroughly clean carpets and surfaces, and de-clutter and de-personalise as much as possible.

Currently DIY retailers are exempt from closing to customers, so now is an ideal time to do that bit of decorating or gardening that could make all the difference to getting a buyer. And with most large retailers offering a home delivery service you don’t even need to ask yourself whether a trip to the DIY store is an essential journey.

When the crisis is over we expect to see the market pick up quickly again and we at Bretherton Law are well placed to help you.

Bretherton Law have been serving the people of Hertfordshire for over 50 years. Our team of experienced Property Lawyers will ensure that whether you are buying or selling, the conveyancing process will run smoothly and professionally. We remain open for g=business during our usual hours, with staff working remotely. We offer fixed fee quotes. Bretherton Law are accredited under the Lexcel legal practice and the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Schemes. Call 01727 869293 or visit our website and contact us via https://www.brethertonlaw.co.uk/