WBW remains very much open for business, with remote working in place to enable us to keep working on your behalf during this difficult period.  The Government have issued guidance on moving home and this will no doubt be updated as we move towards a possible relaxation of the current Lockdown. You can view current guidance at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak.

One of the keys points in this Guidance is the need for people to be adaptable and flexible. Locally, a number of firms have come together to agree that the firms would `work together in the current property climate as pragmatically as possible. Wherever we can, we will find sensible and workable solutions for our clients and the chains that they are involved in. We will communicate openly, fairly and honestly with each other to achieve these ends.’ This applies now and into any relaxation of the Lockdown and WBW are committed to that agreement. As a result, we will work with you, your agent and lenders were needed so that we can advise on your options and possible ways forward should difficulties arise. 

As part of this, we have put together the following FAQs

I have exchanged on my purchase/sale – do I have to complete?

Once you have exchanged on a particular transaction, then you are contractually bound to complete on the agreed completion date. If you are unable to do so for any reason, including as a consequence of Covid 19, then you will be in breach of that contract. So, the short answer is `yes, you do need to complete’.

What happens if I can’t complete because of the coronavirus?

If you know that you cannot complete on a particular day, maybe as a result of self-isolation or because removers cannot move you, then you need to let us know as soon as you can. It is possible to alter a completion date but this has to be by agreement. This is where our commitment to helping find sensible and workable solutions comes into play and we will help wherever we can to arrange a change of date if we possibly can. However, this can only be done by agreement and this means that, if you are in a long chain, everyone along the chain needs to agree. This is why you need to let us know if there is an issue just as soon as you can as any change will take a while to discuss along the chain and then agree if possible.

If I need to change a completion date, does everyone have to agree?

Yes, they do. However, we are hopeful that other lawyers and agents will work together to find pragmatic solutions and encourage their clients to be understanding and flexible wherever they can.

My removers can’t or won’t move me – what can I do?

Again, you need to let us know as soon as you can if there is an issue and we can check if the chain would allow a change in day for completion in the short term or perhaps a deferred date into the future that might suit everyone better. Everyone still needs to agree to a change of date but there are some issues that are outside our control – such as delays in the release of mortgage funds, other lawyers being unavailable and removers being unable or unwilling to move people is indeed one of these factors.

I have been asked to agree to a later date for completion but I’m worried about my mortgage?

UK finance has stated that they are working with lenders to ensure that mortgage offers, where contracts are already exchanged, are extended by three months. You should contact your mortgage lender as a matter of urgency to check this is the case. Make sure you have your loan account details to hand when you ring them and be prepared to be on hold for a period of time as many lender teams are working with lower staff numbers.

I haven’t exchanged yet but everyone is ready to exchange and agree on a completion date. What can I do to help minimise any problems with completion?

When discussing completion dates, maybe try and keep any period between `exchange’ and `completion’ to a minimum or maybe consider exchanging and completing on the same day. You will then know sooner, and possibly before you exchange if there is an issue that might otherwise stop completion from taking place on the agreed day. This does come with its’ own risks as people can change their mind at the last minute and `derail’ a chain on transactions but, in these particular circumstances, it should be considered.

I have just agreed a sale or a purchase but what happens now?

The legal process can carry on in the usual way and we deal with the due diligence that we need to do and make a start for you. However, do bear in mind that the process will take longer than normal, particularly if you need a mortgage for your purchase as mortgage surveyors are not currently allowed to visit properties freely to carry out surveys and we know that lenders are working with fewer staff. We also know that Councils are furloughing their legal departments so the legal searches we need to carry out for lenders are also going to be taking much longer. Please be patient but we will do whatever we can to help your transaction progress wherever this is possible.  

WBW Solicitors has a property team in all of their nine offices across the South West. If you would like to discuss any aspect of a property transaction or just want some advice whilst we are in lockdown please contact sarahwitheridge@wbw.co.uk or visit our property page.