COVID-19 and the property market
I don’t need to emphasise that these are unprecedented times.
You have probably heard and read this phrase many times over the past few weeks. We are all glued to the TV and the Government’s daily updates even though the bigger picture is not changing. It is therefore good for spirits to foresee some light at the end of this tunnel, despite how far that may be at this time.
So, to say it has been a strange time for all of us is an understatement, but to answer some of the questions I am regularly being asked by clients and contacts, I would like to take this opportunity to provide some answers, or certainly reiterate some of the conversations I have had recently and expect to have in the weeks to come.
If you are selling a property but you have not yet exchanged contracts
- If your Buyer is being cautious, perhaps because they are concerned that the housing market may stall and so they may be able to negotiate a lower price, or because they’re self-employed and are worried that their income is unsustainable and committing to a mortgage isn’t affordable or feasible any more, discuss your position with us and your agent.
Although the Government has announced mortgage holidays, the criteria is not yet entirely clear and so may not apply to mortgages which have recently completed.
- If you start to lose patience with your Buyer it is most unlikely that your agent will able to fully and attractively re-market your property whilst the latest Government restrictions are in place. Further, a street full of ‘For Sale’ signs is unlikely to help persuade any Buyer to proceed.
If however your Buyer is pressing you to exchange and complete as soon as possible please discuss this with us given that current advice, and whilst Government restrictions are in place, is that exchange and completions should be avoided whenever possible.
- Keep your buyer and let your legal advisors continue to deal with the title of the property, their enquiries and searches. In doing so, they will be able to get you to the stage where you are completely ready to proceed to exchange and complete once the current situation stabilises.
If you are buying a property but have not yet exchanged contracts
- Of course, this is difficult and considerations will include income and job security. However, it is likely that many in your chain will be facing similar considerations and we are finding that many clients are asking us to continue as normal and work to put them in a position to exchange but then hold off on exchanging contracts until the recent Government restrictions have been lifted.
- Check the expiry date on any mortgage offer that you have for your purchase NOW and if your mortgage offer will expire shortly, contact your broker or lender now to arrange for your mortgage offer to be extended.
- If you are considering withdrawing outright or because you think you will get a better deal on the price of your mortgage you may be losing the property of your dreams, or the investment of a lifetime. Mortgage lenders are currently inundated with their existing borrowers discussing payment plans so having a new purchase mortgage offer processed and then issued is unlikely to be quick, certainly on the basis that valuations will need to be carried out.
In these uncertain times, communication is key. Buyers and sellers need to be honest with each other about how they want to proceed and what their concerns are. There is enough strain on everyone at this time and lack of communication is only going to add to this pressure.This about the bigger picture not just the current market climate.
Don’t make any rash decisions. Keep in close touch with us. We are here to help you.
These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.