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MHCLG guidance on buying and selling homes during COVID-19

Friday 27 March 2020

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has issued guidance on buying and selling homes during the stay-at-home period.

The Government urges all parties involved in home moving to adapt and be flexible to alter their usual processes. The guidelines state that there is no need to pull out of transactions, but at all other times, guidance to stay home and away from others must be observed. This includes the specific measures for those who are presenting symptoms, self-isolating or shielding.

Advice to the property industry

All businesses must follow the Government’s latest Guidance for employers and businesses on Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Estate agents

Estate agents should ensure they are able to support clients during this period, and work with their all parties to broker a new moving date where sales on occupied properties are due to complete in the current period of emergency measures. Agents should prioritise support for anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, and those they are in a chain with, to agree on a new date.

In line with advice for certain businesses to close, agents should not open branches to the public during this period, or visit people’s homes to carry out market appraisals.

Agents should ensure that employees can work from home, to support existing clients and advise potential new clients.

Work to progress sales should continue, where this can be done whilst following the guidance to stay at home and away from others.

Agents should advise clients to be patient and not to exchange contracts unless the contracts have explicit terms to manage the timing risks presented by the virus.

Quote mark

This advice gives long-awaited clarity for home buyers and sellers after some previous mixed messages. The new advice does enable some moves to take place but under prescribed conditions.

We now look to lenders to take a pragmatic approach and facilitate extensions on mortgage offers.

Agents should nurture any deals that are currently agreed upon and keep both buyers and sellers informed as the situation develops. Health and safety is imperative, so we urge anyone who can stay home to do so...

Mark Hayward

Mark Hayward
Chief Executive, NAEA Propertymark

 

 

 

Conveyancers and solicitors

Conveyancers should continue to support the sales process as far as possible and should make sure their clients are aware of the difficulties of completing transactions in this period. Conveyancers should:

  • Continue to support the sales of unoccupied properties as far as possible
  • Make every effort to support clients who are due to complete on occupied properties in the stay-at-home period to change this date
  • Advise their clients who are ready to move not to exchange contracts on an occupied property unless they have made explicit provision for the risks presented by the virus
  • Prioritise support anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus and those they are in the chain with, to help a new date to be agreed

Surveyors

Surveyors should not expect to carry out non-urgent surveys in homes where people are in residence, and no inspections should take place if any person in the property is showing symptoms, self-isolating or being shielded. It may be possible to carry out urgent surveys on empty properties. 

Work carried out in people’s homes can continue, provided the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms of Coronavirus.

Removals firms

A small number of moves may still need to go ahead. Everyone is urged to take all sensible precautions to ensure the move can happen safely.

Removers should honour their existing commitments where it is clear that the move can be done safely for both the client and staff and it is clear that the moving date cannot be moved.

In all sectors, it is important to ensure Government guidelines are followed, including maintaining a two-metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available).

No work should be carried out by a person who has Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, however mild.

READ THE GUIDANCE

The full guidance is available on the gov.uk website.

Read the guidance