Here’s what you need to know.
Am I able to go ahead with my move?The good news is that the property market, including estate agents, mortgage brokers, lenders, and removal firms, remains open for business, so you can still move home. However, lockdown measures may mean that the buying process is slower than usual, with delays being experienced throughout the process. Many businesses are having to operate with a smaller number of staff, and lenders may also have a backlog of applications as many people are rushing to take advantage of the Stamp Duty holiday which runs until the end of March. You can find out more about how Stamp Duty works here.
You should therefore be prepared to be flexible about your timings. You may be able to speed the process up by making sure you have any paperwork that’s required readily available.
Can I view properties I might want to buy?You can attend property viewings if you want to, provided sellers are comfortable with this, although many estate agents now offer virtual online viewings so there is no need to visit in person. Social distancing measures must be adhered to if you are planning to visit properties. This means that a two metre distance must be kept between you and anyone else and a mask must be worn during viewings. You should also avoid touching any surfaces and apply hand sanitiser both before and after viewings. You can view the government guidance on moving home here.
Can I get friends or family to help with my move?According to government advice, if you cannot use a removal firm then one other household can help you move, but social distancing guidelines and hygiene measures should be followed where possible.
Will I meet the stamp duty deadline?The stamp duty holiday ends on 31st March 2021, so you must complete your transaction before this date, regardless of where you are in the UK, in order to benefit.
Due to the delays currently being experienced by lenders and conveyancers, there is a risk that your purchase won’t complete before the Stamp Duty holiday ends. It’s important therefore to make sure you have the funds in place to pay the Stamp Duty if required.
If you’re worried about missing the deadline, speak to your conveyancer, and make sure you respond to their queries as soon as possible to avoid any unnecessary delays.
Can I still remortgage?Yes, the remortgage market also remains open for business, and switching to a better deal could potentially save you hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds a year. Lender standard variable rates are generally much higher than those available on the best deals in the market, so it really pays to shop around.
However, it might take longer than usual for applications to be processed due to the pandemic, so start the process sooner rather than later. If your remortgage application is already underway, make sure you get any paperwork required over to your solicitor as soon as possible. This can usually be done by logging onto their online portal, or you can submit their initial questionnaire and signed instruction by email.
If you’re worried about finding a witness to watch you sign your mortgage deed given the requirement to be socially distant, registering with the government’s Verify service could help. This is a secure way to prove who you are online. You will need to check with your lender and solicitors however, as not all firms are signed up to this service.
If you need any help with your mortgage, get in touch with L&C today and we can talk you through all the options available to you.