Advice for home movers during the CV-19 crisis
24 March 2020
By Andi Michael
The Coronavirus crisis has left many people who are moving home feeling worried, particularly after the Government’s announcement of a UK-wide lockdown. We've collected some practical tips and advice about what to expect for people at all stages of the home move process
Preparing to Sell
- You’re probably now facing a period of time at home which you weren’t expecting. Hardware stores are currently on the Government’s list of retail outlets that are permitted to remain open, so if you’re planning to put your home on the market when the lockdown is over, use this time to tackle all those DIY jobs you’ve been putting off, such as decorating and gardening to make sure your property is looking pristine.
- Declutter the loft, garage and outbuildings; clean and box up everything you want to take with you. You will need to store the items you no longer need until charity shops and recycling centres reopen.
- Create a spreadsheet of all the suppliers you need to notify regarding a change of address and prepare letters or emails to be sent at the appropriate time. Our checklist is a good place to start.
Securing a Mortgage
- Do as much online research as possible, so you have a clear path forward for when the lockdown is over. Check out the local market and review sold property prices. Read the Ofsted reports of schools, check transport links and Google Streetview local facilities such as high streets, parks and gardens.
- Don’t wait to begin conversations with agents. Talk to them on the phone now to let them know what you’re looking for. From similar conversations with sellers, agents may have a pretty good idea of what properties are going to hit the market when lockdown is over.
- If you find a property you’re interested in online, speak to the agent to check if 360° virtual viewings are available. Many estate agents have adapted rapidly to video viewings in the last few weeks, enabling buyers to undertake virtual walk-throughs of every room.
- Carry out video consultations with agents through WhatsApp, Skype and Facetime.
- It’s more important than ever to ensure your financial affairs are in order and that you secure a mortgage offer in principle before you begin house hunting. Be aware there could be delays to new loan applications as lenders focus on delivering payment holidays for existing borrowers.
- Be prepared to provide evidence of job security, something banks will be checking even more closely than usual.
- With surveyors currently unable to carry out valuation surveys, expect your application to be delayed.
- If you already have a mortgage offer in place, speak to your lender to check that the offer is still valid and that the level of borrowing you’re taking on remains manageable if your job situation has changed.
- If you have not yet exchanged, hold off for now. Spend this period of time ensuring that all queries have been answered and as much of the process has been completed as possible, so you’re ready to press the button and exchange as soon as the lockdown is lifted.
- If you have already exchanged and are due to complete within the next three weeks, speak to your solicitor as soon as possible to try and agree a new completion date beyond the lockdown period with all other parties.
- If you have already exchanged with a completion date beyond the next three weeks, monitor the situation closely. Ask your solicitor to begin conversations with other parties - you may need to act quickly to agree a new date if the lockdown period is extended. If you have exchanged and are moving into a vacant property, your move may still be able to go ahead.
- Money laundering checks, which require buyers to provide certified copies of proof of identity and proof of address documents, can currently still be carried out at the Post Office.
Arranging a Survey
- There will be delays to searches as Local Authority offices go into lockdown and cannot physically carry them out. If searches on your purchase have not yet been completed, you may have to wait until lockdown restrictions are lifted.
- It will no longer be possible for a surveyor to carry out a survey on a property as this is considered non-essential activity. Buyers will need to wait for restrictions on movement to be lifted.
- The British Association of Removers has issued guidance to its members to postpone all moves during the lockdown period, except those which are already underway.
- On BBC Breakfast, Michael Gove MP, who is leading the Government’s response to the crisis, indicated that there will be specific cases where people will continue to move home. The Government has not yet issued clarification on this point.
- While the vast majority of removals will now be delayed, movers can still get quotes and choose a removals firm in advance of their move.
- Surveys can be carried out over Facetime in order to provide removals quotes, which will take a little longer than an in-person visit. However, these may result in missing items, so be sure to double check the quote to make sure everything is included.
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Ricky on 25/01/2020