14th May 2020
The Government has now updated its Regulations relating to buying a home during the current Coronavirus outbreak. On the 12th of May, Public Health England issued revised guidance which permits activities associated with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of residential property. As a result of the guidance, subject to certain conditions, buyers are now able to undertake viewings of properties that they are interested in. In addition, conveyancing firms, surveyors, mortgage lenders and removal firms are all now able to provide the services necessary to move a property purchase to completion. Where viewings, surveys and home moves do take place, they must be conducted in accordance with government guidelines on working in other people’s homes and social distancing.
If you are currently buying or thinking of buying a property, you will naturally have questions about what to expect during viewings and the subsequent conveyancing process. Here are our answers to some of the important questions that you might have:
Can I start viewing property?
Answer - Yes, under Government guidance you are now allowed to start undertaking property viewings. Any viewing will need to be conducted to safeguard the health and well-being of all involved. We would encourage you to manage the number of viewings you physically undertake by reviewing all photos and videos of the property first and asking us any questions necessary to determine if the property is a close match to what you are looking for.
Is your office now open?
Answer – We are currently providing a full suite of services to clients and our office will be open again from Monday 18th May, however all in person meetings will be conducted in accordance with strict social distancing and public health advice. The safety of staff, clients and the general public remains paramount.
Can you still offer virtual viewings?
Answer – Yes, we can still offer these services and will indeed continue to do so especially where buyers or sellers have ongoing concerns about in person meetings and viewings.
Have you trained all of your staff on the required safety measures for viewings and face to face meetings?
Answer – Yes, each team member has been briefed on the current health requirements and procedures for undertaking viewings.
If I find a property I would like to purchase, can I apply for a mortgage currently?
Answer – Yes, lenders are operating and processing new loan applications. With historically low interest rates, now is a good time to be securing a mortgage offer.
I have had symptoms of the virus recently or a member of the household in which I live has had symptoms, can I undertake a viewing?
Answer - No, if you, or anyone that you live with has recently had symptoms of the virus or have been in contact with someone who has symptoms, you should not undertake a viewing.
Will you be checking to see if anyone at the property I want to view has symptoms of the virus?
Answer – Yes, we will be asking all sellers to confirm that they do not have symptoms and have not been in contact with anyone who had symptoms for the last 14 days.
Are all properties now available for viewing?
Answer - No, any property that is home to a vulnerable person cannot be viewed. In addition, some sellers might prefer to delay physical viewings for a little longer. If there is a property that you are interested in, you should contact us for further information.
Will you be attending the viewing with us?
Answer - Yes, we will be attending all viewings.
Will you be wearing protective clothing when you attend the viewing with us?
Answer – Yes, we will wear a face mask and gloves.
What about social distancing?
Answer – We will be arranging all property visits and face to face meetings in accordance with social distancing and other health advisories. Ahead of any viewing, we will coordinate with you to determine how the visit can be safely undertaken in accordance Government guidelines.
Can my entire family attend a viewing?
Answer – We will be limiting the number of people that can attend a property to ensure that we can adhere to social distancing and other health advice. Ahead of a visit we will coordinate with you to understand how many people you would want to attend and whether that number would be safe. We will agree with you the most practical way to conduct the viewing to safeguard the health of all involved.
Will the seller be present during the viewing?
Answer – Where possible, we will be asking the seller to leave the property or wait in the garden. If this is not possible, they will be asked to wait in the largest room in the property.
What can I do to prepare?
Answer – Make sure that you wash your hands before a viewing and minimise what you touch while in someone's home. Carry some antibacterial hand gel for use after the viewing. If possible, wear gloves and a face mask. Ensure that when undertaking the viewing that you observe social distancing guidelines.
I have seen something that I like, can I proceed to making an offer
Answer - Yes, you can proceed as normal. Conveyancing firms, land registry, surveyors and mortgage lenders have all been given the green light to resume activities.
Are property surveys taking place
Answer – Yes, property surveys are being undertaken, but subject to social distancing and health advisories.
I am ready to exchange and complete on my purchase, should I continue?
Answer - Yes, if everything is in order between you and the seller, you can proceed. Removal companies are now working however they have to follow Government guidance on working in other people's homes.