Our Conveyancing Policy during the Coronavirus Pandemic
During these uncertain times, we’re constantly reviewing how we can continue to protect you, our clients, whilst still giving the best possible service.
As a result, we’re recommending that our clients exchange contracts and complete on the same day. This is known as ‘Simultaneous Exchange and Completion’.
How Coronavirus Could Affect Your House Sale or Purchase
Risk of Financial Penalties
There are significant financial penalties for anyone who enters into a contract for a house sale, but the completion of that transaction is delayed or forfeited.
There is a very real risk that this could happen if someone in the chain contracted coronavirus or a company involved in the sale stops trading because of it.
Some law firms are suggesting additional conditions in a contract to protect the ‘chain’ but we believe this will delay transactions. This is because every law firm in the chain would need to agree to the new conditions.
The Law Society has not given specific wording for clauses, so we feel the best way to protect you and the transaction is to progress with a simultaneous exchange and completion.
A simultaneous exchange and completion will mean on the day you want to move, if the chain are all agreed and can complete, we’ll exchange and complete on the same day. This protects you and the transaction if someone becomes ill and can’t leave the property. This will also cover you if anything else influences the transaction, such as:
- Banks Cannot Trade – this might mean that funds for your purchase cannot be transferred on time. We don’t think this is likely, but we’ll continue to review this over the coming weeks and months.
- Mortgage Lenders Can’t Operate – mortgage funds may not be released on time or at all. We won’t commit you to any transaction until we’re happy that the chain can proceed. This also includes making sure mortgage funds will be released.
- Solicitors or Conveyancers Offices are Closed – without these key people, the legal process for the sale or purchase can’t be completed. We’ll work with estate agents and law firms and update you if we think there’s an issue.
- Removal Companies are Not Available – physically ‘moving in’ and ‘moving out’ is not possible. Before you give your authority to exchange and complete, you’ll need to make sure you can leave the property on the completion date.
Delivering our Services
We have taken steps to ensure that our colleagues can manage your case in the same way whether they are working from home, or are in the office:
- Our colleagues can securely access your case files when they work from home.
- We have has robust IT systems that can support large numbers of colleagues working from home at the same time. This means your sale won’t be delayed.
- We’ve already invested in technologies such as Skype, so that our colleagues can easily get in touch with you and other parties involved in the sale, wherever they are.
At the moment, we believe that agreeing to Simultaneous Exchange and Completion makes sure that the risks are minimised and stops you from being placed at risk of breaching the contract.
We’re continuing to work hard to make sure your transaction is as seamless as possible during this difficult time.
What Do You Need to Do Now?
Nothing. We’ll continue to progress your sale and will recommend that you exchange and complete your transaction on the same day.
If you decide to exchange and set a date for completion in the future, we’ll ask you to sign a disclaimer to confirm you’ve done this against our advice. You can download the disclaimer here or request a copy from your Conveyancer.
Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Bristol, Cardiff, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.