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THINKING OF SELLING? THINKING OF BUYING?

Lockdown restrictions were relaxed on May 13th 2020 for Estate Agents

Why not Ask for a Valuation or Viewing - either Physical or Virtual?

To communicate with us:We are now open for business. All our offices are now open as Covid-19 secure but we still have staff working from home.During this period, your calls will be picked up by our office staff or our call answering service who will take your message and email it to us. Please give them as much details as you can including your contact details.

Bearsted: 01622 739574 (bearsted@page-wells.co.uk)

Larkfield: 01732 841164 (larkfield@page-wells.co.uk)

Lettings: 01622 620260 (lettings@page-wells.co.uk)

Loose: 01622 746273 (loose@page-wells.co.uk)

Maidstone: 01622 756703 (sales@page-wells.co.uk)

Please note: We have made every effort to provide advice that is sound and factually correct but Guidelines and other information are changing on a daily basis. We will endeavour to keep this advice updated.

Social distancing may have made it difficult to buy or sell property but that doesn’t mean the market has ground to a halt. Most Estate Agents, Solicitors and associated professionals are working from home so the marketing, sale and purchase functions can still continue.

We have been receiving calls from Sellers and Buyers, Landlords and Tenants and offer the following advice in response to questions that are frequently asked.

FOR BUYERS AND SELLERS

IF YOU ARE ON THE MARKET OR THINKING OF SELLING

Q. During Lockdown can I still put my property on the market?

A. There is nothing in current Guidelines to prevent you from putting your property on the market or preparing for the same.If you wish, e are able to make a visit to your home but this will be under Covid-19 secure rules which we will explain ensuring both staff and customers remian safe. However, should you not feel happy with this it can be achieved in a less traditional manner. Using the technology available to avoid non-essential social conduct, we can still conduct appraisals in a safe manner. Now that restrictions on Estate Agents have been relaxed, we cancarry out photography, erect boards and arrange a floor plan or EPC if your property needs one (you may already have one). Call us now to discuss it further.

Q. What is the point of actively considering marketing when activity is currently reduced and I am not confident of coming to the market yet?

A. Getting a property ready for marketing requires quite a lot of preparation although between us it is possible to collate sufficient detail to launch preliminary details. A property information questionnaire can be completed by you and we can provide the necessary forms by email or post. With a shortage of property coming to the market any new property will be of interest to those still looking. In addition, Solicitors could be appointed early with minimum outlay to prepare your legal documents ready for sale. Even if you are not fully confident, we can help you get started.

Q. Are buyers actually searching for properties now that lockdown has been relaxed?

A. Enquiries from buyers dropped dramatically when lockdown commenced. However, interest is now increasing again as the public are able to get out more and have time consider the future. We have noticed a continuing level of enquiries so there is still a pent-up demand.

Q. Will buyers be able to view my property?

A. Yes, but only if they comply to the Governent's strict guidelines on self-distancing and sanitisation. For the safety of our staff nd yourselves we insisit they are adhered to. The Government Guidelines on home moving have now been updated (see here). The safety and wellbeing of our staff and our customers (yourselves) remain our primary concern during these uncertain times. However,if you are uncomfortable about undertaking a viewing as a vendor or purchaser, it may be possible on some properties to undertake a virtual way of conducting live viewings via FaceTime or other applications so the potential buyer is effectively being shown around and get a real feel as though actually visiting. They can also be shown the outside and garden.

Q. My property is empty so can viewings be conducted more easily?

A. We have instructed our staff to continue to follow Government's revised guidelines which allow viewings provided guidelines are observed. As viewers can be let into empty property unaccompanied, it is easier to stay safe.

Q. What is happening to property prices?

A. There is no data to indicate any change in property prices. There will be several factors that potentially affect prices in the future and they will include employment levels and the public’s confidence in the future months and years. Rightmove’s regional price index for the South East to April 20th 2020 shows a monthly increase of 0.2 % over March and a 1.2% annual increase year on year. It is believed that prior to lockdown there was still a shortage of property and with reduced numbers coming to the market that is unlikely to change. For these reasons, meaningful information on property prices and trends cannot be calculated.

I AM A PROSPECTIVE BUYER

Q. Can I still view a property?

A. Under the revised Government Guidelines (see here), the answer is yes, but provided these guidelines are strictly observed. The safety and wellbeing of our staff and our customers (yourselves) is our primary concern during these uncertain times. However, if you feel uncomfortable attending a physical viewing but have seen properties advertised that are of interest, we are creating a virtual way of conducting viewings on as many properties as possible via FaceTime or other applications so that as a buyer you are effectively being shown around and get a real feel as though visiting.

Q. If I need a mortgage can I still have an appointment with a broker?

A. Yes you can. Brokers are working remotely but if you would like help and advice we can arrange for our mortgage partners to contact you.

Q. If I don’t have a solicitor, can you advise me?

A. As we have always done, we can recommend companies to provide you with a quotation. These are firms we deal with on a regular basis and who like us are working from home.

Q. Can I make an offer if I haven’t physically viewed the property?

A. Legally yes, there is nothing to prevent you from making an offer on a property you have seen on the internet or undertaken a virtual viewing. However, we would recommend buyers and sellers to proceed sensibly if this route is adopted, to avoid the risk of needing to break or change the transaction details once lockdown is lifted. If you are interested in making an offer let us know and we will deal with your interest appropriately.

MY HOME IS UNDER OFFER/ I HAVE AGREED TO BUY A PROPERTY

Q. How long should my sale or purchase take?

A. The sales progression system is still working with estate agents and solicitors working either from offices or from home. Local Authority searches are still being dealt with as is the Land Registry. However, as one might expect in these times, delays may arise. Depending on the length of the chain and other circumstances sales should take no longer than usual other than where affected by current restrictions, especially on arranging exchange of contracts and completion. Leasehold transactions can take longer. The governments advice for home movers can be viewed here.

Q. Is my sale/purchase still being progressed?

A. Most certainly, yes. Our future income relies on getting sales completed so the sales progression system is still working with estate agents and solicitors whether working from an office or at home.

Q. Can I still expect updates on progress?

A. Of course. Our team are progressing all current sales and they will report updates to you regularly.

Q. I am waiting for a mortgage valuation, will this take place?

A. With the relxation of lockdown for the property industry, valuers should be getting back to work whilst still closed observing the Government's revised guidelines.

Q. I have a mortgage offer. Will that remain valid?

A. You will need to check with your lender or broker. It is possible some mortgage offers will be extended at allow for the current difficulties.

Q. Could I still complete on my sale or purchase?

A. There is no restriction against completing so long as the latest advice from Government is followed. If you are purchasing a vacant property you can still proceed as normal according to the latest government advice (see here); however it is the advice of Government that those moving in to a previously occupied property should, where possible, delay moving while Coronavirus measures and restrictions are in place, or leave a period of 72 hours between one household vacating and the next moving in.

IMPORTANTLY - The government advice is clear that there is no need to withdraw from transactions and that within the new emergency enforcement powers that the police have been given to respond to coronavirus, there is an exemption for critical home moves in the event that a new date is unable to be agreed. We strongly recommend this advice is considered and that what you do is supported by your legal advisor as well as those representing anyone else in the transaction chain.

Q. Removals. If I exchange or complete, will I be able to move?

A. You will need to carefully consider your ability to move before agreeing to exchange and complete. Do this by checking with your conveyancer. The Law Society guidance can be found here, but do check the date of any guidance notes as many organisations have been slow to update their advice since May 13th 2020 Private removals may still be possible (check for Van Hire availability) and you will still need to adopt social distancing and sanitation guidelines. If you propose using a removal company, please check whether they can assist before you exchange contracts. Many belong to The British Association of Removers. Please see their website (www.bar.co.uk) and read their advice to their members.

LANDLORDS AND TENANTS

FOR LANDLORDS

Q. What is the current situation with letting new properties?

A. All our available properties are still being marketed and with the relaxation of the Guidelines we are putting measures in place to enable us to take on new properties either virtually or by physical inspection strictly observing the new guidleines. In line with advice to work from home is possible, the Lettings staff are doing that and will onnly attend an office when a matter cannot be attended from home. Government advice is that both homebuyers and tenants should try to avoid moving during the current lockdown measures. However, for tenants that have an essential need to move property, we can arrange virtual viewings or in some cases a physical viewing and all paperwork can be processed online.

Q. If my present tenant cannot pay the rent, what can I do?

A. The government has issued advice comprising a full document of advice for tenants and landlords. In addition, some £500m of funding has been made available to help households experiencing financial hardship.

The government has been urging landlords to work with their tenants through these difficult times. The following are a few options that you might like to consider, depending on your circumstances.

I have a Rent Protection policy. – subject to the policy wording it is possible that unpaid rent might be covered.

I have a Buy-to-Let Mortgage – you should ask your lender for a payment holiday if your tenants can’t pay. The interest and will probably be added to the outstanding balance and it will probably only be allowed for a short duration but it may help during the current crisis.

Offer the tenant a rent payment holiday – if you feel you can afford to, it may help your tenant if they are finding it difficult. It doesn’t mean you are letting them off the contractual rent but just help ease the burden at the present time.

Under The Coronavirus Act 2020 which came into force last March provision was made regarding the law relating to landlords serving notice. The notice periods required for tenants to serve notice remain unchanged. However, until 20th September 2020 (unless extended further) the notice period a landlord must give a tenant has increased to three months thus replacing the previous requirement of two months respectively.

Q. What can I do about mortgage repayments on my tenanted property?

A. Most mortgage lenders have agreed to offer payment holidays of up to three months should this be needed due to Coronavirus-related hardship. This applies to both owner occupied homes and buy-to-let mortgages. You should contact your lender or broker if this applies to you. Unpaid interest may well be added to the loan.

Q. Page & Wells manage my property. How are you dealing with maintenance issues?

A. Throughout the lockdown period we will endeavour to provide the best level of service possible.Although the lockdown measures have been relaxed for the property sector, we have asked tenants to be as sensible as possible and to only report serious maintenance issues. We still have access to our recommended contractors who, where possible, will do their best to respond in emergency cases.

Q. Will periodic inspections still take place whilst Coronavirus restrictions are in place.

A. Currently we can only carry out compliance checks on all of our rental properties, in line with the latest government advice. If a gas safety check is due or any other regulatory matters need checking, these will go ahead as usual until we’re advised otherwise.

FOR TENANTS

Q. Can I still view properties available to let?

A. We will continue to act in accordance with the government’s advice for Landlords and Tenants (see here ) and their revised guidelines to open up the property sector, which is crucial for the safety and well-being of our customers and staff. Physical in-person viewings maytake place during the current lockdown period but we will endeavour, where possible, to offer live virtual viewings or video viewings. Please contact our lettings team to see if this is possible for the property you are interested in.

Q. What do I do about reporting maintenance issues in my property?

A. As a result of the Government’s advice on social distancing, we are asking all tenants to act as responsibly as possible and only report matters of maintenance that are really urgent where damage to property or risk its occupants are of real concern; for example, if a boiler breaks down or there are blocked or broken pipes. We have asked our tenants to appreciate that contractors are also affected and restricted by these guidelines limiting the number that can operate correctly during the present difficulties. However, where it is a matter of urgency we will always do our best to find a contractor to undertake necessary work.

Q. What do I do if I feel I can’t afford to pay my rent?

A. The government’s guide for tenants and landlords is very helpful explaining everything that has been in place to help. You can read this here.

Check mortgage eligibility online