After almost two months in deep freeze, the housing market is open for business again, but this is not the housing market we knew before lockdown. The government’s re-opening of the market, came as a surprise to conveyancing solicitors, surveyors, estate agents, and removal companies, this has left them scrambling to put safety measures in place.
While companies play catch up, we look at the likely re-adjustments of a revived market.
Will property prices drop?
There is a lot of expectation that property prices will drop. However, the reality is no one knows. The key to property prices is consumer confidence. Property prices were frozen when the market closed on the 23 March and many of these transactions will now go ahead. Until we see the true extent of unemployment and the effect of the property, we will now know how the market will react.
What if my buyer wants to renegotiate the agreed price?
It is legal for a buyer to try to renegotiate the price before contracts are exchanged, however if the buyer pulls out after contracts have been exchanged, they are in breach of contract and you can sue them for any loss this causes, you may also be able to keep the deposit. If you agree to a lower price, the buyer’s mortgage company may also want to revalue the property.
What if a prospective buyer wants to view my home?
The government’s advice is to leave your property during a viewing. You should sanitise surfaces before and after viewings and leave all doors open so that visitors do not have to touch door handles to access different parts of the property.
If you develop coronavirus symptoms you should let your estate agent know and postpone all viewings for at least seven days.
If you are aged over 70 and/or have an underlying health condition you should medical advice before you put your house on the market.
If you are thinking of moving to a new build or an empty property, this poses a lower risk.
How can I minimise the number of viewings?
During the lockdown many estate agents adapted to offer ‘online viewings’ this involves a seller showing the buyer and their home on their smartphone, often with an agent on the line to answer questions. Ask your estate agent if they offer this facility before you sign up with them.
What will happen if there is a second lockdown?
Since the market re-opened many buyers and sellers want to get moving fast in case of a second lockdown. There are many difficulties with this however as there is a backlog with people waiting for surveys, and searches – particularly local searches – and removal companies.
The best thing you can do is to get all your paperwork ready and appoint a conveyancing solicitor at an early stage so you can discuss your circumstances with them, and they can advise you as to your options.
How do I sign paperwork from a distance?
Previously the Land Registry insisted upon ‘wet ink’ signatures however they have agreed that, until the end of the pandemic, you can scan a signed copy of the agreement and send it in an email to your conveyancing solicitor. You will need to ask someone to witness your signature, but they can do this at a distance of two metres or through a window.
How can I move home safely?
The government amended its guidance to removal companies to include maintaining a two-metre distance, wearing masks, and keeping windows open to maximise ventilation. If you can postpone moving into to your new property for 72 hours you should do so, failing that you should do a deep clean.
Do not forget to sanitise your keys before handing them over.
If you need to sell your property, you can do so but you must ensure the safety of yourself and of others. Breens solicitors’ conveyancing Southport has continued to operate throughout the lockdown, we have systems in place that ensure your safety and the safety of our staff. Call us today on 01704 532 890 to get a free, no obligation quote for our conveyancing services. We can get you moving, safely.