With the lockdown measures in place, you may be worried that the coronavirus crisis has scuppered your plans for buying a property. But while the whole process will be delayed, systems have quickly been put in place to ensure your property purchase can still go ahead. Read on to find out what you can do at the stage you’ve reached in the process.
Looking for a property
You can still enjoy house hunting — just not in the normal way. Start by registering with estate agents online and check the listings on their websites. Better yet, phone them or initiate a video chat to discuss the type of property you’re looking for and get more detailed information on the properties available. They’ll likely know of some properties that will become available after the lockdown measures have been lifted too.
When you’ve found details of a property you’re interested in, arrange a viewing. As you can no longer visit properties in person, many estate agents are now offering 360-degree virtual viewings. This means you can ‘walk’ through the property almost as though you are there.
Research the prices that similar properties in the area have sold for so that you’re prepared to make the right offer. Check the transportation links in the area, find out which schools are nearby, and their performance level according to Ofsted and get in touch with the local council to ask whether any projects are planned for the area as this could impact property prices.
Applying for a mortgage
This is a good time to apply for your mortgage offer in principle, which confirms how much the lender is prepared to lend you for your purchase and shows vendors that you are serious about buying.
Use this time in lockdown to prepare for your mortgage application. Easy steps can be taken online, such as registering on the electoral roll and checking your credit rating. You can also gather all of the paperwork together with that the lender will need to process your application. Please be aware that many lenders now require a letter from your employer to confirm your job security due to tighter lending restrictions in the current COVID-19 climate.
Be prepared for a delay with your application as surveyors are unable to conduct on-site valuations and lenders may be focusing on mortgage payment holidays for existing clients.
Extending your mortgage offer
If you already have a mortgage offer in place, check with your lender that it is still valid. If your job status has changed, speak with your lender to ensure the amount you’re borrowing is still manageable and work together to find a suitable solution.
If you have already exchanged contracts, you can now extend your mortgage offer for 3 months, giving you breathing space and peace of mind now that home moves have been delayed.
Waiting to exchange or complete
While working towards the exchange of contracts, many aspects of the property transaction can now be done digitally. For example, Land Registry forms and contracts will be transferred to digital documents rather than physical ones so you can expect to do these online rather than waiting to receive the hard copies. Try to get as much of the process done as you can so that you’re ready to exchange contracts as soon as the lockdown measures are lifted.
If you have already exchanged contracts with an imminent completion date, speak to your solicitor to arrange a new completion date that everyone in the chain is happy with. For a completion date that is further ahead, just keep an eye on the lockdown situation. If it looks as though it will be extended and affect your completion date, ask your solicitor to speak to the other parties involved to have a new date in mind so that you’re ready to act if need be.
Use this time during lockdown to get quotes from removal firms and choose the one you’d like to use when your completion date can go ahead. It is possible to move if you have purchased a vacant property; however, you must follow the government’s guidance when doing so.