Diary Of A Highstreet Conveyancer – 7th -10th May
It was almost like the old days today. The day before a Bank Holiday and I had three completions (YAY!!) One was the sale of an empty property, the second was the purchase of an empty flat, and the third was the purchase of an empty house – or so I thought.
When I spoke with the solicitor acting for the seller of the empty house, I was alarmed when she told me she would need a release of my contract as she had a related purchase and there was an upwards chain. I did not know this – I had been told that the house my clients were buying was empty. This in fact was not the case. When I questioned the seller’s conveyancer about this and pointed out that this was against Government guidance, she told me that she had been completing many chains – I asked her if she was intending to have the house deep cleaned in accordance with guidance, and asked her whether she had pointed out to her clients the safety risks of buying a house in which someone had been living right up to the hour before her clients moved in. She could not answer.
I spoke with my client who was clearly distressed to learn that the house had not been empty for the previous two week period as she had thought, and I stressed to her the importance of making sure she cleaned the house thoroughly , especially the door handles . As she has an overlap on her present tenancy, I think she will change her plans and not move into her new home as quickly as she had thought ….
I was waiting to hear the Prime Minister’s statement with some trepidation. I have got used to the slower way of working and did not want to find that my stress levels were going to be increased as soon as I walked into my office on Monday morning. Bearing in mind that during the course of last week, many estate agents seemed to think that the property market would be reopening for business on Monday morning and were telling clients that they could be looking to move before the end of May, I was nervous.
I was hoping that there would be clarity – but to be honest, in my view, the Prime Minister’s statement raises more questions and I shall need to spend this evening, thinking about how I am going to advise my clients. Perhaps more detail will come over the next few days. My initial thoughts are that whether I can tell people if they can move will depend on what removal companies decide to do. The ones I know seem to be gearing up to get people moved so I suppose that if safety measures are in place and clear guidance set out as to how they can move people – and remember they cannot observe social distancing whilst moving a washing machine – then we could see those who have been waiting patiently get into a position where they can move.
But what about the other end of the market? Those who may have been thinking about moving and were about to put a house up for sale prior to lockdown? Estate agents will be keen to get houses on the market as they have had no new instructions for the last six weeks but again , how this is done, and whether people would want to look around houses with the potential risk that carries remains to be seen.
The price of liberty is our eternal vigilance