Last updated on February 18th, 2021 at 11:54 am
Can I still buy a house during the coronavirus pandemic?
Yes! In early May the government gave the green light for the real estate market to open its doors in England. Since then, it has been a busy time for property conveyancers as thousands of people across the country start moving home. Indeed, property website Rightmove recorded its busiest day on Wednesday, May 27 with more than 6 million visits – an 18% increase on the same day last year. However, buying during coronavirus requires greater flexibility. Be aware that the process may take longer, and difficulties may arise due to social distancing. Additionally, there may be delays if a buyer or seller must self-isolate due to COVID-19. Therefore, now more than ever, it is paramount that you seek out the expertise of a skilled property conveyancer who will be able to guide you through any complications that may arise due to the pandemic. Additionally, regular, and effective communication between all parties will be critical to ensure a seamless house conveyancing process when buying a home during COVID-19.
What government guidance is in place for property solicitors?
Government has introduced a raft of measures to ensure that the real estate market can continue to flourish in a safe way that limits the transmission of COVID-19. Some fundamental changes to note to the house conveyancing process are:
- Property conveyancers are advised to make sure their clients are aware of the differences in completing transactions during this period, including the need for flexibility and the possibility of delays
- As much of the residential conveyancing process should be completed remotely. This can include via email, virtual meetings, and by post
- If face-to-face meetings are required, social distancing and hygiene measures should be put in place. Additionally, you will not be able to drop-in to a conveyancer’s offices, instead you will be required to make an appointment
- Government is encouraging house conveyancers to make flexible provisions, for example, making sure contracts have explicit arrangements for the risks presented by the virus for their clients exchanging contracts on an occupied property
- Commercial property solicitors should make provisions to agree new dates should the buyer or seller have to self-isolate due to COVID-19.
What is the house conveyancing process during COVID-19?
The steps and due diligence that your property conveyancer will carry out during COVID-19 will be the same as before.
- Carrying out proof of identity checks
- Confirming the source of funds
- Raising any pre-contract enquiries
- Carrying out searches and investigation of title deeds
- Managing payments and
- Handling the exchange of contracts.
However, almost all the property conveyancing process will be carried out remotely, by virtual meetings, email, and telephone, with documents being exchanged digitally and by post where possible. Graysons is a UK based law firm that boasts a professional team of top conveyancing solicitors. While our offices are based in Sheffield are expert legal conveyancers have helped buyers across the UK secure their dream property. With sophisticated digital systems in place, our legal conveyancing team will help ensure a seamless house purchase process, without you even having to step foot in our offices.
What are some of the critical property conveyancing changes during coronavirus?
Flexibility and patience are key to property conveyancing during COVID-19. All parties should be aware that they may be asked to delay their house move at a moment’s notice should someone become ill with coronavirus and must self-isolate. Graysons’ team of legal conveyancers will ensure any contracts or agreements have provisions to accommodate any risks that may arise during the pandemic.
How long does it take to buy a house during coronavirus?
In normal circumstances, it typically takes a minimum of around eight weeks to buy a house. However, you should expect the legal conveyancing process to take longer due to COVID-19. An expert conveyancing solicitor, such as those at Graysons, will be able to guide you through the buying process and troubleshoot any issues that may arise.
What are some of the property conveyancing issues that may arise during COVID-19?
Numerous problems are being presented due to COVID-19. However, it is essential to remember that none of these are insurmountable, especially if you engage the services of an experienced, qualified property conveyancer.
Some frequent problems encountered include:
- Refusal to vacate the property on completion as the vendor is self-isolating
- Disruption to the banking system, causing delays at critical times
- Delays to search and survey results
- Difficulties securing the services of removal companies
- Challenges in obtaining witnesses for the signing of wet ink documents
Are wet ink signatures still required during COVID-19?
A wet ink signature is an original document signed by hand with a pen. During the house conveyancing process, some documents with wet ink signatures will also need to be witnessed. Wet ink signatures should still be used when this can be carried out safely. This includes not using the same pen to avoid transmission of COVID-19, encouraging hand washing, and maintaining social distancing. The wet ink documents can then be delivered by hand, where appropriate, or posted. If a wet ink signature is not possible, then an electronically signed document can be used. For example, electronic signatures can be used for contracts to sell and buy, as well as for deeds, if witnesses are physically present when the signatory applies the electronic signature. HM Land Registry is also temporarily accepting Mercury style execution. A professional property conveyancer, such as the legal experts at Graysons, will be able to offer advice and guidance when it comes to wet ink signatures and suitable alternatives.
What happens if I need to see my property conveyancer in person?
If you need to see your property conveyancer face-to-face, then the appropriate social distancing and hygiene measures will be put in place. This will include meeting by appointment only, being requested to wash your hands when you arrive, and being always asked to maintain the required two-metre social distance.
How can I make sure the house I am buying is safe from COVID-19?
The answer is you cannot. If you are moving into a previously occupied house, it is important to note that there is a risk that one of the previous occupants has had coronavirus or may be suffering from the virus. However, you could, for example request that the property be decontaminated before you move in. A professional property conveyancer will be able to advise accordingly.
Do I need to use a conveyancing solicitor near me?
There is no need to use local conveyancing solicitors as everything can be done digitally or by post. Indeed, house conveyancers are now actively required to conduct as much of the property purchasing process remotely as possible. When expert knowledge and the highest degree of professionalism is required, especially during a pandemic, you should seek out the best residential conveyancers, not conveyancers based on their proximity to you.
The safety and wellbeing of our staff and clients is our utmost priority here at Graysons. With years of legal conveyancing expertise under our belt, our team of experts are ready to help guide you through buying a house during COVID-19.