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Buying a Property During Lockdown - The 2021 Guide

We haven't started off January 2021 in quite the way we'd all have liked - but with March looming as the current end of the Stamp Duty holiday, it's all systems go at Revolution Brokers!

We're receiving a massive volume of enquiries about property sales, investments, and transactions during this newest lockdown period, so thought it would be a great time to recap on what you can, and cannot do.

The key thing to remember is that, while trading works around the limitations in place, it's all about working safely, so please do everything possible to protect your health with hopes that regular business will resume as soon as possible.

Property Transactions in the Latest Lockdown

The good news is that, while schools and non-essential businesses are closed, the property market is being treated differently this time around.

Governmental guidance has confirmed that sales and purchases can still move ahead, so there's no need to put your new investment strategy or house move on hold for the next few weeks.

As of yet, there hasn't been any news about a suggested extension to the Stamp Duty holiday. Therefore, we'd recommend working on the basis that this will end on 31st March 2021, unless or until official announcements are made to the contrary.

When the first lockdown began almost a year ago, things were somewhat more challenging:

  • Physical valuations were stopped, meaning most transactions could not complete.
  • Most estate agents, brokers, and lenders were trying to implement new working systems quickly, and they paused a significant amount of business
  • We did not know the economic impact, and so many mortgage providers rapidly withdrew lending products from the market.

We're now in a place of experience and used to flexible working, and so there aren't any drastic changes that should substantially restrict your ability to buy or sell a property, or get a mortgage in place.

The government guidance says that 'You can still move home. People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary. Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work.
 
 If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings. Follow the national guidance on moving home safely, which includes advice on social distancing, letting fresh air in, and wearing a face covering.'

Of course, the caveat is that with the Stamp Duty holiday end date approaching fast, there is a tremendous push to try and complete record numbers of transactions in a few short weeks. So if you're on the fence about moving forward, time is most definitely of the essence!

Safety Guidelines for Property Sales

As always, there are guidelines to follow - most we're already familiar with. That does mean that you might need to be flexible with viewings or appointments and that most mortgage documents and consultations will be digital rather than in person.

The essential regulations include:

  • Sticking to the two-metre social distancing guidelines. That applies when viewing a property, inviting potential buyers to view your home, or allowing tradespeople or valuers access to a house.
  • Wearing a face covering or mask whenever appropriate, unless you have a medical exemption. In most cases, it is prudent to wear a mask whenever in the same room with anybody else, as an additional precaution to keeping your distance.
  • Vacating the property whenever possible. If you have a valuer coming, then the ideal scenario is to leave the property at least half an hour before they arrive. Valuations and viewings should always be staggered, and the property aired out in between.
  • Observing hand washing. If you have been to any property you will likely have touched door handles, surfaces and doorbells, so always ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly.

In many cases, we can complete most of any mortgage transaction online, via video meetings or over the phone, so it's possible to reduce physical interactions to an absolute minimum.

Offices for most estate agents and brokers are closed, with staff working remotely, but you can usually still get a digital appointment or discuss your property transaction from home.

Are House Moves Being Delayed Due to Lockdown?

You can still go ahead and move home during the lockdown, although government advice is to limit any help with moving furniture to as little as you can.

Removal firms are still available, although they will likely have some new procedures in place, so it's wise to check in before booking your removal slot or furniture delivery.

Viewings can still take place, with the above guidelines. These must be arranged in advance, and open house viewings are not permitted, so make sure you have an appointment and don't allow unscheduled viewings to take place if you are selling a property.

There may be delays on new sales or property purchases, because:

  • Valuers have a reduced capacity with the need for PPE and more diligent hygiene procedures.
  • Many transactions are pending, as buyers rush to complete their purchases before 31st March.
  • Help to Buy equity loan applications ceased in December 2020, and likewise have until the end of March to complete, putting additional pressure on agents and brokers.
  • Mortgage lenders are tentatively reintroducing lending products, although applications are taking slightly longer due to enhanced eligibility checks.

If you are worried about completing your house move before 31st March, the best course of action is to contact everybody involved. That includes your mortgage broker, agent, solicitor and the person you are buying from or selling to.

It seems unlikely that many new transactions will complete in time, given the intense pressure already on the market. Still, by pre-booking valuation slots, leveraging digital meetings to cut down on negotiation time, and working through any clauses quickly, there is still a chance to sweep in before the cut-off.

Contractors and tradespeople can still work in private homes - although the same guidelines about distancing and ventilation apply.

Therefore, if you have an investment property and are looking for new tenants, or are conducting viewings during the lockdown, this can still go ahead.

For advice on completing a safe property purchasing during the pandemic and independent guidance about the most competitive borrowing products currently on the market, contact Revolution Brokers today.

Contact us now to discuss your personal options, Revolution Finance Brokers specialise in commercial and residential finance in Essex, Kent, London and Hertfordshire.

 

Author

Almas Uddin

FCA disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The information on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs. Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.

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