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Moving Home During the Coronavirus Crisis - Guide for Buyers and Sellers

If you are considering moving home at this time, we understand you might have several questions about the current process. Here, we provide practical guidance for buyers and sellers looking to move during the coronavirus pandemic:

 

For advice specific to your circumstances, get in touch with our conveyancing team today by calling 01292 289 584 or complete our online enquiry form, and we will get back to you right away.

Can I get my property valued?

Typically, the first stage of selling your home is having the property valued. The process normally involves inviting an estate agent to your house to assess its value. In-person valuations were not permitted at the beginning of lockdown; however, the Scottish Government announced you could visit a residential property “to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property” from 29 June.

If you are self-isolating or shielding, you should not carry out an in-person valuation. For those who fall into these categories, many estate agents have adapted their procedures so you can have your property ‘virtually valued’.

Can I apply for a new mortgage at this time?

You can still apply for a mortgage while current measures are in place. However, it is important to note that some lenders may require larger deposits than usual, with tighter loan-to-value ratios. Some lenders are still accepting lower deposits and you should discuss your options with a mortgage advisor.

I am scheduled to move home, is this possible?

An estimated 45,000 Scots were believed to have been in the process of moving home when lockdown began. After months of home moves being delayed, all residential home moves were permitted by the Scottish Government as of 29 June.

Moving home involves numerous parties, which means everyone involved should comply with physical distancing and health guidelines to the best of their ability. The Scottish Government reiterated that moving home has not returned to normal and must be done with caution during this time.

These guidelines do not apply to anyone showing symptoms of the virus, those who are shielding or self-isolating. All parties involved in the process should make it a priority to change dates to accommodate people in these particular groups.

I have not yet agreed on a date of entry, what should I do?

If you have not yet agreed on a date of entry, you may consider delaying this until the easing of lockdown is complete. You should be mindful that there is no exact date for when all restrictions will be lifted and, as such, you should prepare to be flexible with dates. For those who have agreed on a future date of entry, there should be explicit provision for this date to be deferred if needed.

Can I put my house on the market?

If you put your house on the market at the beginning of lockdown, you may have found selling your property more challenging than usual. The impact of COVID-19 on the housing market was evident when figures from Registers of Scotland revealed only 103 residential sales were recorded in April. This compared with 5,765 in March and 6,287 in February.

As the property market starts to resume, and visiting estate agents and viewing residential properties is now allowed, it’s crucial that all steps in the conveyancing process are carried out safely. Procedures must be adapted to ensure the risk of spreading COVID-19 remains as low as possible and, therefore, those looking to put their house on the market should gather all relevant information before moving forward with the sale.

I want to sell my home - can I conduct viewings?

Members of the public were told they could leave their house for the purpose of viewing a residential property from 29 June. However, in order to minimise public health risks, Government guidelines recommend that initial viewings are done by virtual means.

While you are allowed to hold physical viewings in your house, it is important to consider how you can maintain health and safety measures during these visits. The Scottish Government has advised that you do not hold an ‘open house’ viewing, but rather viewings by an appointment-only basis.

If you decide to hold viewings, you should ensure that:

  • your viewers (or anyone in your household) have no suspected symptoms,
  • hand sanitiser is available on arrival,
  • all windows and internal doors are open to avoid any physical contact,
  • all surfaces are wiped down between viewings, and
  • they are seriously considering putting an offer on your property.

 

If possible, you should vacate your property while a viewing is taking place in your home.

Can I accept an offer on my property?

You may accept an offer on your property, but you should be prepared for the process to take longer than usual. Delays may occur if anyone involved in the move begins to show symptoms or has to self-isolate. Your solicitor can advise you on your specific circumstances.

Can I conclude missives?

Once missives are concluded, the parties have entered into a legally binding contract for the sale and purchase of the property. There may be delays concluding missives while the phased easing of lockdown continues and all parties should be as flexible as possible. Alternatively, there should be explicit contractual terms to account for the risks associated with the coronavirus outbreak.

How does the phased easing of lockdown affect the property market?

The Scottish Government published the COVID-19 route map in May which outlined how we will transition out of lockdown. Phase 1 included “preparing for the safe reopening of the housing market”, while Phase 2 stated the “relaxation of restrictions on housing moves”.

From 29 June, the property market in Scotland was said to “partially resume”. This included the public leaving their homes to move into a new property or undertake any tasks in relation to the residential conveyancing process.

In a bid to boost Scotland’s property market from the impact of COVID-19, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes announced new initiatives to support homebuyers. On 9 July, Forbes advised the threshold for Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) will rise from £145,000 to £250,00, meaning that eight out of 10 house sales across Scotland will be exempt from the tax.

An additional £50 million is also being added to the First Home Fund this financial year, a shared equity scheme providing first-time buyers with up to £25,000 to buy a new build or existing property.

Our property team are on hand to provide any further advice you may need at this time.

Contact our Conveyancing Lawyers Ayr, Troon, Kilmarnock, Irvine & Glasgow

If you need advice about buying or selling a property at this time, the conveyancing lawyers at McLennan Adam Davis Solicitors can help. Our solicitors are specialists in property transactions and can provide the practical advice and assistance you need. We operate across Ayrshire, and our team will be happy to assist you with any part of the conveyancing process.

If you are interested in buying a new property or need guidance on how the process works while the current measures are in place, please contact us. You can call us on 01292 289 584 or complete our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.

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