FAQ’s about moving house and the conveyancing process during the current national lockdown

House moves now allowed as lockdown eases

Please see the below FAQ’s about moving house and the conveyancing process during the current national lockdown:

Can I still move house?

Yes, government guidance allows for moving home during this lockdown period as it stands.

The following guidance has been issued re moving home:

  1. • People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.
  2. • Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work.
  3. • If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings. Follow the national guidance on moving home safely, which includes advice on social distancing, letting fresh air in, and wearing a face covering.

Are PM Property Lawyers still operating?

We are still operating, with many of our teams working remotely – our offices are closed to the public for the time being.

Like the majority of families across the country, some of our team members are balancing childcare with remote working. We kindly request your understanding and patience if there is background noise on our calls, or it takes us a little longer to get back to you.

What impact will the lockdown have on my transaction?

There are lots of different parties involved in the conveyancing process, including mortgage lenders, search companies, the Land Registry, surveyors and estate agents. All of these businesses will be making changes to their operations due to the national lockdown, including sending staff members to work from home, and taking additional steps to protect their employees and clients.

The property market is currently facing its busiest period in over a decade, with many clients hoping to complete before the SDLT deadline at the end of March. The current national average time to move home is 16-20 weeks to complete the conveyancing process – from the point at which the contract is received. There is the possibility that new delays arising from this lockdown extend this average time further, and we greatly appreciate your understanding and patience during this period.

If you wish to voice your concerns regarding the SDLT deadline not being extended in light of the most recent lockdown, you can contact your local MP.

Is the new lockdown causing problems for mortgages?

Mortgage lenders have had longer response times, and had removed some products from circulation in previous lockdowns. Offshore operations for some lenders have either temporarily closed or are working at a reduced capacity, so they previously removed some higher LTV products from circulation whilst they worked through the additional volume under a strained capacity.

Some of these products have started to come back to the market, however as conveyancers, we are still waiting longer for redemption statements, having to give more notice to submit your COT (certificate of title), and are regularly waiting on hold for hours at a time to speak to someone about releasing your funds on completion day. These response times may go up again in light of the recent lockdown, and for some lenders this can also depend on restrictions in overseas countries where offshore operations are based.

If you have any concerns regarding your mortgage offer, speak with your mortgage broker if you have one, or your lender directly.

Will my searches be delayed?

Your search results will depend on which Local and Water Authority your property falls within. Some areas are working to fairly normal turnaround times, however others are taking upwards of two months to return results. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to get your searches back any quicker, and we have to wait for the results before we can progress the matter. We appreciate that this is frustrating, however we kindly request your patience waiting for the results and we will be in touch once we’ve received them with your search report.

If you are in the early stages of your matter, please provide us with your search funds as soon as we request them so we can order them at the earliest opportunity.

What can I do to speed things up?

We appreciate you will want to get moved as quickly as possible. Here is what you can do to make sure your transaction goes through as quickly as possible:

  1. • Reply to any requests for additional information from our team in a timely manner.
  2. • If you have received an update from us, let your estate agent know so they are aware of what’s happening.
  3. • Use the PMPL app where you can send documents and messages in a secure environment, and track your case milestones and progress.
  4. • Avoid sending more than one email at a time / continually dialling our phone lines so our team can focus on progressing your matter.

We are doing everything we can to keep your transactions moving, and we do understand how important it is that your matter goes as smoothly as possible for you and your family. Your kindness and support towards our staff means a great deal to them as they work incredibly hard to keep things moving during this difficult time.

With best wishes
PM Property Lawyers

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