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Coronavirus: How You Can Still Buy & Sell Your Home
April 2020

chestersolicitors

We may all be following social distancing and lockdown rules but that does not mean your property search or home sale should be completely on hold.

Should I keep my home on the market?

It’s actually not such a bad time to be selling your home. With the majority of people stuck at home, bored, without much to do, many would-be house hunters are spending their time browsing for a new home online. So, if your home is already on the market there is no reason to withdraw it.

It’s also worth noting that the government has not banned property transactions from going through. Instead, it has said that if the property being bought is empty, the sale can continue as normal.

It is only if the property is currently occupied that it is encouraging people involved in the transaction to agree an alternative date on which to move.

Can estate agents take on new listings?

Their physical offices may be shut but estate agents are still open for business, albeit working remotely from home.

That said, it is difficult for them to take on new properties at the moment, as the current social distancing rules mean they cannot visit your home to take photographs and measurements for the listing details.

But don’t let that put you off if you’re thinking of selling your home.

Estate agents will still be able to talk to you by telephone to advise you on how much they may list your property for, subject to a physical viewing once restrictions are lifted, and to give you an idea of the market in your area. 

They are also likely to be having similar conversations with potential buyers, so they may be able to line up some interested parties to view your home once the lockdown is over.

Can people still view my home?

Assuming your home is already listed with an estate agency, they can continue to market it, but potential buyers won’t be able to view it in person until the current social distancing measures are lifted.

That said, people can still get an excellent sense of what your home is like through doing a virtual tour. 

Some estate agents created these tours using 3D cameras to offer a high-definition, 360 degree walk-throughs of their clients’ properties before the lockdown came into force.

What if someone makes an offer?

If you receive an offer, there is nothing to stop you negotiating and accepting it.

But you do need to be mindful that the selling process is likely to take longer than usual.

The government has advised people to delay exchanging contracts while the current lockdown measures are in place.

Your buyer may also face delays in having a survey done on the property, as surveyors have been told not to carry out non-urgent work.

What if I want to buy a new home?

If you want to buy a new home, there are still plenty of things you can do to kick-start your search while in lockdown.

You can use the time to browse homes online that estate agents already have on their books, to give you a sense of what is out there, while many properties also have virtual tours you can take.

Estate agents are still working, so even though you can’t visit them in their offices, it is still worth ringing them for a chat about the type of property you’re looking for, as they may have someone waiting to list as soon as the restrictions are listed.

If you do find a property that seems perfect, you can put in an offer for it, although as explained above, the conveyancing process is likely to be slower than usual.

What about the solicitors?

Most solicitors, such as ourselves, are still fully operational, so you could ask your solicitor to check the paperwork on a property that you are selling as well as getting all the relevant documents together that you will need to pass to a prospective buyer’s solicitor once a sale is agreed (ie planning permissions, building regulation approvals, installation certificates etc).

If you have any questions regarding buying or selling a home during the lockdown period, our Head Of Residential Property, Jason Thomas, will be happy to help. You can email him on jmt@jolliffes.com. 

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