Conveyancing during the Coronavirus Pandemic

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By Gemma Parsons


The world of buying, selling and renting houses has changed enormously during the current pandemic. So far it is a game of two halves, the second half having just started.

From late March until 13th May everybody in the property market was subject to a stringent set of rules that resulted in just a few sales and purchases creeping through to completion but the majority either falling through or being delayed. As one would expect, this has resulted in a tremendous drop in transaction rate, and most residential conveyancing firms will have had to place at least some of their staff on furlough. There simply has not been enough work for everybody carrying out residential conveyancing work to do in circumstances where surveys could not be carried out, prospective buyers could not look around houses and completions could hardly take place.

The landscaped changed overnight on 12th/13th May with a Statutory Instrument that amongst other things dealt with people’s ability to carry out property transactions. This provides that as long as we stick to Government guidance most of what is needed to sell, buy or rent a residential property could go ahead. This includes visiting estate agents or letting agents or sales offices in show homes, viewing houses and flats, preparing residences to move in, actually moving home and visiting a residential property to undertake “activities required for the rental or sale of that property”. This latter point has been of great importance so far because many surveyors have stopped carrying out surveys and valuations which has delayed mortgage offers and purchases.

It is too early to tell how this will affect the housing market, but it must be good news for those involved in the industry. I am sure everybody will be very cautious about how they operate in this new climate. The jury is still out as to whether we have a quick recovery, or a slow more graduated return to normality. I would expect (and indeed I am already experiencing) quite a few buyers trying to reduce the price in transactions that have been delayed. Also there may be a shift towards certain types of property that are now more attractive – e.g. family homes with gardens may be favoured. It will be interesting to see what happens to the London and more urban markets.

Chubb Bulleid have been open and working throughout the Coronavirus crisis and will continue to do so whether we are home or whether we are in our offices. We are rearing to go!