23 March 2020

Buying or selling your home? How will Covid-19 affect you?

This article is an update to our previously posted article: Buying or selling a home? How coronavirus might affect you.

Buying or selling a house is stressful enough without the added concerns that Covid-19 is imposing upon everyone. Both buyers and sellers have been asking us a range of questions – buyers have said:

I’m worried that a delay might affect my mortgage arrangements. Where do I turn for help?

If you have instructed a broker, this person would always be your first point of contact about any mortgage application.  If you have not instructed a broker, you will need to contact the lender directly.

Mortgage offers are valid for a certain period of time (depending on the lender and the type of product you have obtained).  However, an offer can always be withdrawn up to the point of completion, especially if your circumstances have changed.

If your circumstances do change, you should let us and your lender know.  At the moment, we recommend the period between exchange and completion remains as short as possible and ideally happens on the same day.

I would like the seller to deep clean the property before I move in. Is this a requirement that can be added to the contract?

It is possible to ask for this to be included but the seller is under no legal obligation to agree to this.

Sellers are asking us:

We were due to complete in the next two weeks but the buyer is unwell or in isolation. How might that affect the transaction?

If you have exchanged contracts, the buyer is still legally bound to complete the transaction on the day contracted for.  If the buyer does not complete on that day, the buyer is liable for any reasonable and foreseeable losses you might incur as a result of that failure to complete, though you could choose not to claim for any losses.  If you are not under contract, there is no legal obligation and you could simply agree to another date.

We’re part of a chain which is facing delays further up. What can we do to ensure we don’t lose out financially?

This really depends at what stage of the transaction you are at.  Ensuring the contacts you use are able to operate electronically as much as possible would be a helpful way of ensuring a transaction can still progress.  Do you have access to a printer? If you know you are going to have to provide monies at some point in the transaction, it would be advisable to ensure you will be able to transfer funds without requiring attendance at a bank.

Plan ahead as much as possible e.g. obtain all quotes for household insurance and removals.  Check the terms of these companies; for example, what would your removal company do if you were unable to move on the planned day due to someone being in self-isolation?

Make sure you have returned and provided all required documents to your lender and/or solicitor.

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About the Author
Zoe Touhey, Partner, Head of Residential Property

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