The Government Gives The Green Light To House Moves
The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing and Local Government, signalled the green light for house sales. The statement, at the Government Covid-19 briefing on 13th May allows the recommencement of house sales, purchases and rentals in England. There was collective relief expressed by home owners, landlords and tenants alike. In short some normality may be returning to the housing market.
On 25th March, over seven weeks ago, with little or no warning, not only were house sales halted but were letting also stopped. The only concessions being, “if there were unavoidable contractual reasons.” Whilst most of us understood the need for this, those on the cusp of a house move whether buying, selling or renting the consequences could be seen as calamitous to say nothing of the ensuing financial damage.
Property markets throughout the UK were gearing up for one of the busiest times of the year, Easter, in regard to house sales just as the pandemic struck. In 2019 over 100,000 houses were sold between the period 19th March to 19th April. The new Government rules in granting an opening up of the housing market, could see the beginning of the climb back to near normal house sales and lettings.
Sales valued at over £82bn were put on hold at the start of the lockdown and with lenders now even more ready, willing and able to put their best efforts in to assisting the re-start of the market it is likely to be a busy time for solicitors/conveyancers.
New and better mortgage deals now abound to assist with kick starting the housing market, it may be that there has never been a better time to buy.
Top Tips To Speed Up The Transaction
For those who are just putting their houses up for sale:-
The new guidelines from the Government, if digested and understood now, can save you time and make you prepared in advance for viewings. Above all if interest is shown in your property you can avoid any delay in offering an immediate viewing.
What is more, ensure that your agent has a impressive virtual tour of your house. If you have being doing upgrades during the lock down ask your agent to update the video showing the improvements made.
When a prospective buyer decides to inspect in person it is an opportunity to show off nice bathrooms and cloakroom facilities, as hand washing facilities must be provided. What is more this necessity can be turned around into a positive experience.
As agents cannot drive prospects to your house, try to make sure there is ample parking. If you have a garage and driveway put your own car away allowing the space to be used for those viewing. For off road parking try calling neighbours and asking of they will leave the space or spaces in front of your house clear for a couple of hours during the viewing time.
As a consequence of this effort it will enhance the viewing experience, making it more relaxed and enjoyable.
If you were in the later stages of your house sale here are even more ways to speed up the process:-
- Rather than leave it to the buyers side to do the searches, ask for them to be done now by your own solicitor or conveyancer. Yes there is a cost involved and if possible ask for it to be refunded by the buyer, but consider offering the searches to your buyer as an incentive to push the sale through.
- As soon as you receive an offer which is acceptable, instruct your solicitor/conveyancer straight away, the earlier the better.
- Typically it takes 4-14 weeks between offer, acceptance, searches and contract with a further 2 weeks for exchange and completion. However this time can be reduced by up to 6 weeks with good preparation. Your house buying solicitor will be able to advice you further here.
If house sales pick up quickly and bearing in mind there is a back log, this could save even more time as searches could take longer than usual. Local government offices will be on a low staffing policy as a result obtaining searches could be slowed down even further.
When you receive the contract documents for signing, deal with them straight away returning them quickly either by hand, ( accepting the Government guidelines still in place may prevent this ) or by sending them registered post. This ensures they don’t get lost or delayed in the postal process.
Check in regularly with your solicitor/conveyancer, treat them as part of “ Team Operation House Sale.” Have weekly chats so that you know what progress has been made so in the event that your buyer contacts you, you will be a position to let them know how things are going. As a consequence you will be able to offer updated, useful information.
As a result of the Covid-19 out break mortgage holidays were offered for an initial three month period. This offer has now been extended to a six months to those whose ability to pay their mortgage payments have been affected.
A mortgage holiday allows you to keep cash flow on a even keel while furloughed. As a result of tenants being unable to pay rents, landlords were also offered a similar package. Normal household bills can be paid not to mention the peace of mind this gives knowing that you will be able to pay for essentials until you can return to work.
It is important to understand when considering or taking a mortgage holiday is that the interest is not forgiven. It continues to accrue and once you restart payments the interest will be added to the mortgage and the monthly repayment sum will be recalculated accordingly.
However if you put you house up for sale at some stage in the future there is a question, “will this action affect your credit score?” Will it prevent you obtaining a mortgage or credit facilities?
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has told lenders that they should ensure that any temporary payment freezes should not impact credit scores. The Chairman of the FCA has confirmed that not only does this support to consumers facing financial difficulties it supports the future mortgage market from the effects of the pandemic lockdown.
Credit Reference Agencies (CRA’s), such as Experian and Equifax have offered to ensure that any payment freezes taken up by borrowers do not impact on personal credit ratings. This offer will cover not only mortgages but most other types of borrowing such as credit cards, loans and store credit and also any increased limits taken up.
Tenants And Their Position?
Any tenant who is experiencing financial difficulties during this lockdown period has in addition to other measures been shielded from eviction, by the Government. Landlords are being prevented from giving eviction notices to existing tenants until, at least 30th Sept.
Landlords can now start to show prospective new tenants around property but the Government Covid-19 guidelines must be strictly adhered to as well as the contractual clauses on showing prospective tenants around occupied flats.
Housing associations have been instructed in respect of their tenants, that there must be no pressure put to bear on tenants to move out if that was imminent just prior to the lockdown. Also guidance in respect of returning keys, new tenancy sign ups and any pre move inspections has be updated to be in line with the new rules given by the Government.
Disclaimer – our articles are designed to give you guidance and information. There is no substitute for proper direct advice, particularly as everyone’s circumstances are different. If anything in this article may affect you, please contact us for advice that is specific to your circumstances.