Can I Move During COVID?

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Welcome back.  Let’s talk about moving house in 2021.  

Last year was a very sad and difficult year for many of us, let’s hope for better times in 2021. Many people want to move house as a result of recent restrictions, they want a bigger living space, a garden, or a room they can designate a work area. Alternatively, they may need to relocate for work, as not all jobs can be done from home.  

These are the current guidelines at the date of posting this blog from the government’s website, and my ‘go-to’ website for all sorts of useful information; Gov.uk:

‘The housing market in England will remain open in all 4 tiers. This means that people looking to move home will be able to both continue with planned moves and view new properties to move into in the future. Estate and lettings agents, removers, valuers, and people in sales and lettings offices and show homes will be able to continue working.’

They go on to say that those working in the property sector such as estate agents and conveyancers have made adjustments to the way they work to reduce the risk from the virus. At MJR we have done just this and have put in place screens. Masks and hand gel are available at the front desk for you to use and we have masks and visors to hand for when you come and visit us.  Of course, we like to meet you in person and don’t want this to stop but we are also mindful of your safety.

In terms of viewing properties, estate agents can show you ‘virtual viewings’ online – I personally love these – it’s a bit like watching ‘Through The Keyhole!’. If you want to do a real viewing you must make an appointment with an estate agent and open house viewings aren’t allowed at the moment. You should avoid touching any surfaces in the house but can take photos. If you are the seller and prospective buyers are coming round to view, you should keep doors open and make sure you clean door handles etc after viewings.  

When it comes to signing contracts and transfer deeds, we can send these documents through the post to you and you can sign them at home and send them back. As always, we have to obtain your consent to exchange before we do so – just having your signed contract in the file doesn’t mean you have exchanged contracts – so don’t worry!

Although the Law Society has not given us any specific wording to use in contracts during Covid 19, many conveyancers are doing what is called a simultaneous exchange and completion to try to protect their clients.  This means that you choose a day you want to move and if everyone in the chain agrees and wants to move on that day we can exchange and complete on the same day. Of course, we have to make sure all funds are cleared and in place beforehand.  But it means you don’t have the usual two-week wait in between exchange and completion when someone could become ill and be unable to move, or the lockdown situation may change, so you are not having to sit at home biting your fingernails for two weeks! 

The good news is that at MJR we like IT! We have robust IT systems that allow us to work from home and we can access your files securely from home. That means we can carry on working even during lockdowns and your sale or purchase won’t be delayed. We can also get in touch with you via Skype or other video software so you can talk to us from the comfort of your own home. 

I hope that helps.  I will be bringing you more updates as the year progresses. In the meantime, stay safe and keep warm.

Anne-Marie Norman

Anne-Marie has worked for over twenty years in the legal profession and has a wealth of experience in all aspects of residential conveyancing. Anne-Marie did her first degree in English and Drama at Exeter University, followed by a degree in Law at London University. She is a graduate member of The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and belongs to their Conveyancing Specialist Reference Group.

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