Covid-19 – A message from Phil

Below is a question and answer list based on the latest COVID-19 recommendations from the Government which you may find helpful. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to phone myself, or our office number and we will try to help.

In the meantime, I should inform you that as from this Wednesday, 1st April, a number of our staff will be going into furlough and therefore will not be available to deal with business matters. However, myself, Vivienne Hayes and Mark Thompson will all be working remotely and dealing with any matters regarding Cobb Farr. We will be contactable during normal office hours via our mobile phones or our office phone.

With regards to the continuation of marketing of properties for sale or rental, we will continue to deal with enquiries that we are still receiving over the phone or via email. We cannot of course carry out accompanied viewings, but for some clients we have already managed to prepare virtual viewings which as this situation continues, we feel will be a valuable marketing asset where it is appropriate. Again, we are happy to discuss this further with anyone.

With regards to current sales that are running, please read the advice. I believe the main point to consider for anyone is that one can still exchange contracts and complete if is not absolutely necessary to move in immediately or to delay an exchange of contracts until completion can take place. As you will see, mortgage companies are extending the time for any mortgage offers to be valid, which is very good. Again, we will continue to monitor all sales running and keep you fully updated.

I believe I said this before, but these are unprecedented times, all of us at Cobb Farr will remain positive and endeavour to do whatever we can to assist you.

We understand that in the current climate you’ll want to know what the guidelines are for home moving. We’ve analysed the UK government’s advice, which was issued on 26 March, and have devised a Q&A to help get you up to speed on what you should and shouldn’t do during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Hopefully, this will assist in answering any questions you may have about the sale of your property or your move, do not hesitate to get in touch. We’re here to help.

Has the government stopped all property transactions?

No. In line with wider guidance, the government has urged everyone involved in a property sale to work within and adapt to new restrictions around social distancing and self-isolation.

If a transaction is underway do I need to cancel it?

No. The government has said there is no need to pull out of transactions. Instead, anyone in this situation is encouraged to defer the completion date until after stay-at-home measures are lifted although there is an exemption for “critical home moves”. Where a property is vacant then subject to social distancing, this can also be completed.

Are exchanges still possible?

Yes. The government recommends that where all parties wish to exchange, this should be either delayed until after stay-at-home measures are lifted or proceed if clauses are included to manage the risks presented by Coronavirus e.g. delayed completions. Alternatively, if you can exchange and complete simultaneously but do not need to move in immediately, this may also be possible.

And what if no delay can be agreed?

The government has said that if moving is unavoidable, people can proceed but must follow social distancing guidelines.

What about mortgage offers? Will they still be valid?

The government has agreed with banks that mortgage offers should be extended for up to three months where completions are delayed and is working with conveyances to establish a legal process for moving completion dates.

Cobb Farr can recommend mortgage brokers who may be able to help with this situation as well.

What if I am moving into an empty property?

You can continue with the transaction while following guidance on home removals. The government has also told surveyors that it may be possible for them to carry out urgent surveys on empty properties or where the occupants are out.

What is the guidance on removals?

Removers should honour their existing commitments where it is clear the move can be made in line with public health guidelines around social distancing and self-isolation.

The Cobb Farr team are working closely with removers and can provide further guidance.

If I want to put a property on the market, what can I do now?

You can prepare your property for the market. However, physical inspections or viewings should not take place or visits from photographers or surveyors due to COVID-19.

What about virtual viewings?

There are no restrictions on marketing properties. This includes virtual viewings from the occupant or if there is a professional virtual tour already available. However, new professional virtual tours should not be undertaken.

What if this leads to an offer?

There are no restrictions on accepting offers although the government warns the process is likely to take longer than normal due to COVID-19. Estate agents can continue to progress sales within social distancing restrictions.

Can an estate agent visit an office or property?

No. Agents should not open branches to the public or visit people’s homes due to COVID-19. Business should be conducted, working from home. An exception is permitted to collect keys to facilitate necessary works or a move-in or completion, subject to, being well and adhering to social distancing guidelines

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