Welcome to the latest edition of our daily service dedicated to advice and guidance on how agents can best cope with the continuing Coronavirus crisis.
Any appropriate advice to share with the industry is of course welcome - just email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass it on just as soon as we can.
Let’s start today with a word we have become familiar with in recent days - Furloughing.
This is when staff remain employees of an agency but must not work: it’s a way of keeping good staff on the books during these unique circumstances, while the firm itself can then benefit from government funding being made available through the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme.
It’s a new experience for us all and now The ValPal Network has started daily tips on what furloughing is, how firms are doing it, and what it means when the virus crisis finally ends.
It's an invaluable guide and you can check it out by subscribing here.
Next up today, news of a webinar tomorrow on issues emerging from the virus lockdown and how they impact agents and the property industry.
MRI Software is hosting a free webinar with panellists from Fixflo and the Residential Landlords Association.
Focusing on company policies, maintenance management and effective communication, the free webinar is a must-attend for residential property managers and operators especially those looking after leasehold blocks and rented homes. Attendees will be encouraged to raise questions in order to help them cope with the ‘new’ and hopefully shortlived property management landscape.
Registration for the webinar is open and free of charge. It’s at 2pm tomorrow and you can register here.
There’s news, too, from iamproperty, which is committing to pay its Partner Agents for as long as the COVID-19 crisis continues.
It says it is “prioritising the protection of fee payments to agents for those transactions that can continue, aligned to government guidelines.”
To ensure the maximum number of deals keeps moving iamsold - in partnership with the wider iamproperty group - says it can help agents with the full supply chain via Medway Law acting on behalf of the vendor and The Conveyancing Partnership working with enabled solicitors on the buyer’s side.
There’s been plenty of government guidelines released in recent days in a bid to clarify how the lockdown and social distancing will affect current and future transactions.
Now Bhavesh Amlani, head of property at Roythornes Solicitors, has issued its take on what the new regulations means.
Bhavesh writes: “There is currently disruption to the entire system so there is likely to be some effect on your transaction. However, what that is and what you can do about it very much depends on the situation and the stage your transaction is at.
“There are several ways that your transaction could be affected. There are multiple parties involved in the buying and selling of a house and the current situation means any, or all, of the parties could be affected by delays and complications including:
- Problems obtaining searches because Local Authority offices have been closed;
- Problems with the banking system meaning approvals and transaction take longer;
- Possible requests that properties are deep cleaned by buyers prior to moving in;
- Delays in obtaining signatures on documents due to problems with the postal system;
- Delays in issuing mortgage offers by lenders because they are working with a skeleton staff or from home;
- Issues with removal companies who may not be available due to staff self-isolating;
- Closures of estate agencies affecting handover of keys;
- Sellers being unable to move out of a property due to self-isolation.
“As lawyers we are bound by the rules of the Law Society, which state that all solicitors act with courtesy, cooperate with third parties, maintain high standards, and deal with others in a fair and honest manner.
“In pure legal terms, if contracts have been exchanged on a transaction and the transaction does not take place then the party(ies) who have been unable to complete would be in ‘default’. However, there is the very real possibility that in these times the non-defaulting party (most likely the buyer of the property) will take a ‘fair’ view.
“Whilst the non-defaulting party could serve a ‘notice to complete’ i.e. force the transaction to take place, we feel this will be unlikely in most cases. We hope patience and common sense will prevail.
“Each case will be different, but there could be a number of possible solutions:
- Exchange contracts, with a completion date much later in the year - this would commit both parties to the transaction but give some time so that the completion can take place once the outbreak is over;
- Put a hold on exchange – so that you get all the paperwork in place but do not exchange on the property before the situation becomes clearer. Of course, this would mean there is no legally binding duty on either party to undertake the transaction, and so relies on the trust of all those involved;
- Exchange and complete simultaneously – again this would rely on trust between the parties, but it would ensure that there is no duty on either party until both sides were ready and when they were, the transaction would be undertaken quickly
“My advice therefore would be to speak with your solicitor. They not only have access to the latest Law Society regulations and guidance notes but will be aware of the current situation both on your transaction and those up and down the chain.”
That’s it for today from Conquering Corona. We’re back tomorrow with more help…so until then…