Guidance for Buyers During the COVID-19 Outbreak

HERE YOU CAN FIND USEFUL INFORMATION FOR BUYERS DURING THIS STRANGE AND CONFUSING TIME

We understand that the current crisis is a confusing and stressful time for most and as a buyer you may have some worries about whether you can continue with your own exchange and completion, how it will influence the current housing market or whether it will affect your ability to buy a property right now.

We want to offer as much support as possible, so to help put that stress at ease, we’ve put together the Buyer’s Guide to help keep you informed on everything you need to know during the COVID-19 outbreak and current lockdown measures advised by the government.

Will the property market fall in London?

The only thing we can be certain of in the country’s current circumstance is that, well… nothing’s certain. So with thing’s constantly changing, it’s pretty hard to predict whether the property market in London will fall.

Reports have shown that COVID-19’s effect on our economy may influence a drop in house prices, but it’s unlikely they’ll fall drastically as there were not any systematic problems with the market prior to the outbreak. Believe it or not, London property prices were starting to revive in the early part of 2020, and there has been a growing demand following the last few years. So it’s quite possible that the property market could rebound next year.

Can I still buy a property?

In theory, the answer is yes. However, we strongly advise that you refrain from buying, or looking to buy, during the current lockdown. The government has advised to delay all buying/selling procedures as far as possible and it’s important to remain in line with their regulations and restrictions. We can’t stress enough that your health comes first and moving during lockdown may compromise this.

If you find yourself in a situation that means it’s urgent for you move, it is still a possibility as there are surveyors still working and removal men are still available (but it’s worth checking with individual companies beforehand). Whilst the government advise not moving during lockdown, it isn’t illegal to do so (at time of writing).

So if you’ve thought long and hard about this and decided that buying right now is an absolute must, it’s important that you take practical steps to try and avoid catching the virus when buying a property during the outbreak:

  1. Go digital – while you cannot physically view homes, we are able to show you photographs, floorplans and, in some instances, videos of the local neighbourhood. We’re also able to ask sellers to film video tours of their property to give you a better insight of their property from the safety of your own home.
  2. Understanding floorplans – reading floorplans may be a bit confusing if you’re new to buying, but its worth measuring out the rooms in your own home to gain a better perspective on the space of rooms in the house you’re viewing.
  3. Work remotely – It’s important to ensure all paper and solicitor work is done remotely to avoid any unnecessary contact with people and to avoid catching the virus.

Should I ask for a reduction?

If you find yourself considering whether to ask for a reduction on a home, chances are it’s either because you think that house prices will fall, or because of an unfortunate change in personal circumstances, such as if your income prospects have fallen away.

Renegotiating the price should only be done if you feel as though it’s absolutely necessary. Given the current economy, it’s completely understandable if you don’t feel that you can move forward with the agreed price due to financial concerns. Therefore, it’s important that you explain your circumstance to the vendor’s estate agent, as the seller may be sympathetic to your situation. However, please note that the vendor is not obliged to accept.

What would happen if I pull out or reduce?

There are many things to consider before you opt to pull out or reduce your offer. If your reduced offer is rejected and you opt to pull out instead, it’s unlikely that you’ll find another property in the current market as it’s not currently possible to physically view properties and house sales are dropping.

It could also have a negative effect financially, as you will need to either change your mortgage offer or get a completely new one, which may prove difficult in the present economy. It’s worth bearing in mind that due to the outbreak, some lenders criteria on the amount of a deposit required beforehand has increased, therefore, you might not be able to get a mortgage if you can’t match the increased amount.

Can I still exchange and complete?

From a legal perspective, once contracts have been exchanged you are obliged to continue completion (which is the day your keys are handed over). However, from a health perspective, it’s really important that you remain in line with the government lockdown regulations and try to delay the exchange and completion process until after lockdown has been lifted, or exchange and complete on the same day to remove the risk of anything adverse happening in between those time periods.

If you find that exchange and completion is necessary, then it’s important to follow the advice on maintaining strict separation to minimise the spread of the virus. If you are due to move into an empty property this is much easier and safer to organise.

Should I ask for a delay in exchange and completion?

We understand the ‘Should I…? Shouldn’t I…?’ motions you may be going through right now when considering whether you should continue with exchange and completion as normal, so hopefully we can shed some light on this for you.

You may be advised to delay your exchange and completion and, if the vendors situation allows it, then it might be best to agree to a delay. Remember, current government advice is to only move house if it is absolutely necessary. However, if the property you are buying is empty then this makes it easier and you should be able to move as normal.

When can I start looking again?

This will very much depend upon governmental advice and as nothing seems to be definite, so we’re afraid we can’t confirm when that will be. The current lockdown viewing measures have meant that property sales have dropped, with many properties being removed from our property portals.

However, seeing as there was a growing demand for property sales prior to the outbreak, we’re likely to see an increase in properties being put back on the market as soon as lockdown restrictions are lifted.


If you are currently in the middle of purchasing a property through Davies & Davies or have put in an offer on a property please contact your negotiator directly on:

Mark Scales: 07870 510 129 / mark@daviesdavies.co.uk

Derek Taverner:  07400 851 310 / derek@daviesdavies.co.uk

Javerna Lightbourne:  07413 555 413 / javerna@daviesdavies.co.uk

Lamar Morris: 07490 915 991 / lamar@daviesdavies.co.uk

 

We’ll try to keep this information updated as things change but in the mean time, if you have any general property questions you can reach us on:

0207 272 0986 / info@daviesdavies.co.uk.

Please note: all advice given within this article is for general guidance only and should not be considered legal advice.

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