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Buying and selling a home during the coronavirus lockdown?

Latest advice

Post updated: March 27th, 2020

buying home coronavirus

Latest advice on moving during lockdown

The government last night (26th March) issued guidance saying they “urge parties involved in home moving to adapt and be flexible to alter their usual processes.”

While some news this morning suggests the housing market is being put on hold, the government advice is actually that, “There is no need to pull out of transactions, but we all need to ensure we are following guidance to stay at home and away from others at all times, including the specific measures for those who are presenting symptoms, self-isolating or shielding. Prioritising the health of individuals and the public must be the priority.”

Look for alternative dates

The government statement adds, “Where the property being moved into is vacant, then you can continue with this transaction although you should follow the guidance [see below] on home removals.”

But, “Where the property is currently occupied, we encourage all parties to do all they can to amicably agree alternative dates to move, for a time when it is likely that stay-at-home measures against coronavirus (COVID-19) will no longer be in place.”

This week there was increasing concern that moving house would put people in breach of new police powers, but the government has made clear that, “In 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.” So if your chain cannot come to a new date for moving you can proceed.

Recognising parties will need to alter common practice, the government have sought to ease this process for all involved by:

  1. Issuing this guidance, developed with Public Health England, to home buyers and those involved in the selling and moving process;
  2. Agreeing with banks that mortgage offers should be extended where delay to completions takes place in order to prioritise safety; and,
  3. Working with Conveyancers to develop a standard legal process for moving completion dates.

What does this mean for my property move which is scheduled whilst the stay-at-home measures are in place?

  • Home buyers and renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while measures are in place to fight coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Government advice is that if you have already exchanged contracts and the property is currently occupied then all parties should work together to agree a delay or another way to resolve this matter.
  • But – if moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on staying away from others to minimise the spread of the virus.
  • In line with Government’s advice, anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice which will mean not moving house for the time being, if at all possible. All parties should prioritise agreeing amicable arrangements to change move dates for individuals in this group, or where someone in a chain is in this group.

What if an extension goes beyond the terms of a mortgage agreement?

UK Finance have confirmed that all mortgage lenders are working to find ways to enable customers who have exchanged contracts to extend their mortgage offer for up to three months to enable them to move at a later date.

If a customer’s circumstances change during this three month period or the terms of the house purchase change significantly and continuing with the mortgage would cause house buyers to face financial hardship, the government say lenders will work with customers to help them manage their finances as a matter of urgency.

Removals Firms

There will be people who have already committed to moving home; where possible the government are encouraging them to delay their move but a small number of moves may need to go ahead. The government are urging everyone to take all sensible precautions to ensure the move can happen safely.

  • Removers should honour their existing commitments where it is clear that the move can be done safely for the client and your own staff and it is clear that the moving date cannot be moved.
  • Removers should follow the latest Government guidance which currently (26 March 2020) states that work carried out in people’s homes can continue, provided the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms or coronavirus.
  • It is important to ensure Government guidelines are followed, including maintaining a 2 metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).
  • No work should be carried out by a person who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.

If you’re thinking of starting on your journey to buy or sell a house, then don’t. Now is clearly not the time!

Scroll down to read the comments with people’s latest experience of moving – and click here to sign up to our newsletter to get an update later this week

——————–

We’re in troubling times. So much can change in a few days. On Monday (16 March) Rightmove announced figures that show that up until very recently, the housing market was enjoying quite the spring bounce.

Average new seller asking prices hit a record high, and the number of sales agreed was up by 17.8%, with the highest number of transactions at this time of year since 2016, and average times to get to sales agreed speeding up.

So the chances are, a lot of people were in the midst of a house sale or purchase when the pandemic was declared last week, when the stock markets started to plummet and events started to be cancelled. If you’re hoping to complete on your transaction in the next few days or weeks, here’s what to watch out for.

Expect more to be done digitally 

Throughout property transactions, physical documents such as Land Registry forms, reports and contracts are changed hands numerous times. You can expect all parties involved to move to a more secure digital document transfer system, email and document sharing platforms. So expect to receive your documentation by email or online rather than hard copies in the post.

Make sure password protection is used and avoid possible security breaches by speaking to the person to whom you are sending documents – and especially money – before you press send. Electronic signatures are valid under English law to execute or sign documents, so don’t be concerned if your conveyancer opts for this.

See our guide on property fraud for more details.

Specific delays you may encounter

Given these uncertain times, it will not be unexpected for some buyers or sellers to get “cold feet” – if you sense that this could be the case in your transaction, it’s worth speaking to your conveyancer about your concerns so that no one’s time – or money – is wasted.

In order to make sure your sale or purchase does happen, the key thing is to get through to exchange (when parties are contractually bound and the deposit is paid) and completion (the day the balance of the payment is made and ownership changes hands).

After exchange

If completion does not take place after contracts have been exchanged due to COVID-19, then your conveyancer will need to look at the contract provisions about breach and advise whether a seller failing to complete can be compelled to do so – and whether, in the case of a buyer failing to complete, the seller can keep the deposit and additional costs.

In reality, if the failure to complete is due to illness or self isolation, we would hope that the parties would all work together to come to a reasonable agreement regarding delay.

If the transaction forms part of a chain of transactions, it may not be possible to take such a view without incurring a penalty.

Speak to your conveyancing solicitor

These are unprecedented times. Get your conveyancer’s view on your transaction and try to act in a way that is fair to everyone, especially if you’re in a chain. Everyone is facing the same issues so remember to be considerate, accommodating and sympathetic where you can.

Booking your remover 

The British Association of Removers’s advice is crystal clear – that all moves should be cancelled or postponed for the next 3 weeks.  If you cannot delay your move and you cannot find a removal firm willing to take the work on, you could rent a van and enlist friends to help, as long as you follow the social distancing guidelines.

On moving day

We’ve had lots of nervous buyers contact us at HomeOwners Alliance. One suggestion for moving day which might help put you at ease is getting a deep clean of the property once it has been vacated. To find a cleaner near you, simply type “cleaning services” in the tool below.

And check out our moving day checklist so you don’t miss a trick.


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93 Comments

  1. We agreed a date with our removal firm for 31 March to move our goods out of storage. Full payment had been made up to this date. On 24 March they wrote to say they were postponing this move because of the government’s emergency due to Covid19. I have now received an invoice from the removal company telling me they will take monthly storage charges from me for April, May and June. No explanation given. I feel this is a situation that is not of my making and besides I do not have any funds left to continue storage. The house we are moving into is empty as we had been doing some renovations following completion of the sale mid February. Is this legal for them to take this money. The government guidance I have read on your site says removal companies can move stuff into empty premisies with all the usual precautions. Your comments would be really helpful. Thanks.

    Comment by Mary Kane — April 4, 2020 @ 4:47 pm

  2. We viewed a house in November and offer accepted, searches started. Mid January we were advised that the vendor has applied for Probate. My solicitor said it would be Ok and would be 6 to 8 weeks. Now 10 weeks later and repercussions of COVID 19 government restrictions, we cxannot buy, rent or move. We are in a temporary accommodation (holiday parkhome) paying £1000/month. Should have been 1 month. If we keep paying we will not have enough money to buy the house when restrictions are lifted. The house is empty and I would do the move on my trailer so no contact with anyone. Any help as to how to continue.

    Comment by David Moseley — April 3, 2020 @ 11:04 am

  3. We seem to be ‘accidental’ second home owners, having moved to the very north of Scotland from England. We kept our property in England, and have been renting it out but decided to sell at the end of last year. How are we affected now? Is it better to rent, or continue with trying to sell?

    Comment by Mrs Alison Foyster — March 30, 2020 @ 11:35 am

  4. I am currently in the process of purchasing. First time buyers are buying my home, and the property the people I am buying off has no onward sale so we have a small chain.

    The survey of the house I am buying has highlighted some work which needs to be done, I assume this will hold everything up. Would it be acceptable to get some quotes, albeit rough ones, and ask the people I am buying from to reduce the price of the house to cover the work and if the work costs less then I can agree to refund anything over the amount paid? We could all then move and I could have the the work done which should avoid any delays – but would that be acceptable legally?

    Comment by Maud — March 30, 2020 @ 10:54 am

  5. My completion was due 9th April but sellers are a couple in their 70s/80s and don’t want to move till this is all over. How long is a piece of string! Appreciating I am not in the worst situation having read some of these comments. This terrible time will pass eventually

    Comment by Caroline — March 30, 2020 @ 10:18 am

  6. Landlords can’t make anyone move at the moment http://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-support-available-for-landlords-and-renters-reflecting-the-current-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

    Comment by Caroline — March 30, 2020 @ 10:15 am

  7. Our house has been sold in Highlands of Scotland and is empty the move / exchange date is the 15th April there is no chain – do you think it possible for it to go ahead with all safety measures in place .?

    Comment by Mags — March 30, 2020 @ 8:51 am

  8. Rebecca, I’m not sure exactly what happens on completion day (you say there’s no lenders involved) but it might be worth contacting the other compliant solicitors and working out how to cut her out of the equation, basically get her fired. Or get someone else in her firm to stand in.

    Comment by Barry W — March 29, 2020 @ 10:42 am

  9. Hi looking for some advice
    We were due to complete sale Monday 30th (tomorrow) last call we received from solicitor was Tuesday saying that everything would be going digital soon then office closed on Wednesday that’s all we have heard. We are in a chain of 3. The sellers of the house we have bought has been unoccupied for 1 year then the buyer waiting to get into ours. There has been a few bumps on the way but now sorted. I am so stressed ready to pop with twins and 2 babies already! I just want this over with! We would be completing the move ourselves we don’t have much to take to new house few things my husband can manage. I am going to write and email to my solicitor today in hope she will get back to us with an upto date response I’m sure we are all worried and anxious at this time! Any advice thank you

    Comment by Tiffany McCarte — March 29, 2020 @ 3:04 am

  10. There are 3 of us in a chain no mortgage on either property the top of the chain has already moved out of the property and our sellers will have vacated and we are both moving ourselves no removal company involved… however 1 of the solicitor is refusing to complete even though all in the chain want it completed… is this legal that the solicitor herself refuse to do as 2 other solicitors and all buyers want ???

    Comment by Rebecca — March 28, 2020 @ 5:22 pm

  11. We are due to complete on April 15th.
    We asked our conveyancers to ask our buyers if we could come to some sort of agreement to delay as advised by the government.
    They have point blank refused and want us out on this date.
    Our removal company is no longer operating. We have been looking to hire a self drive van but even this is a great worry as we are pensioners with health issues and physically don’t know how we would be able to manage alone.
    We are moving 350 miles away.
    This is an absolute nightmare, if the coronavirus don’t get us the stress will.

    Comment by Sue — March 27, 2020 @ 3:52 pm

  12. Alexandra, from the government site….

    “What if an extension goes beyond the terms of a mortgage agreement?
    UK Finance have today confirmed that, to support customers who have already exchanged contracts for house purchases and set dates for completion, all mortgage lenders are working to find ways to enable customers who have exchanged contracts to extend their mortgage offer for up to three months to enable them to move at a later date.
    If a customer’s circumstances change during this three month period or the terms of the house purchase change significantly and continuing with the mortgage would cause house buyers to face financial hardship, lenders will work with customers to help them manage their finances as a matter of urgency.”

    Comment by Barry W — March 27, 2020 @ 10:33 am

  13. We expect to complete within the next 2-3 weeks, and move in 4-6 weeks later to allow for essential renovation work. BUT our builder can’t get supplies and will probably have to cease working. Added to which our storage company is closed. Potentially we will have most of our stuff in storage for months, costing over £500 per month.
    Our only hope is to delay exchange/completion so that our money can earn interest which almost covers our storage costs .
    Oh, and the owners of the house we are house-sitting return soon from Hong Kong and will go into 14 day quarantine in this house….

    Comment by John Tasker — March 26, 2020 @ 11:12 pm

  14. Good evening the house we are buying nearly completed as we we’re due to exchange and complete tomorrow(we we’re advised that leaving a gap between exchange and completion might put the purchase at risk due to coronavirus) then the person on top of the chain put all on hold due to coronavirus, solicitors told us there is nothing we can do but wait, we understand the situation as both of us are working for the NHS, however we have a mortgage offer until the end of April, we are worried and wondering if the bank would extend the offer given these unforeseen circumstances, much appreciate any help

    Comment by Alexandra — March 26, 2020 @ 9:31 pm

  15. Government confirms transactions are business as usual providing distancing measures are followed

    http://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

    Comment by Amy — March 26, 2020 @ 9:25 pm

  16. Having briefly read Covid-19 Police Powers in England, I note the following provisions : “no-one will be allowed to leave their home “without reasonable excuse”. These measures come into force on Thursday and will last six months, to be reviewed every three weeks. This law has major implications for anyone moving home during theses uncertain times. No reasonable administration can expect its citizens not to move for an indefinite period. So the term “reasonable excuse” is crucial. Where family has ‘Exchanged’ and are legally committed to vacate a property on a given date this is must be considered as essential travel and fall well within terms of “reasonable excuse”. With proof of a Completion Contract it’s highly unlikely that police would disagree.

    Comment by Philip — March 26, 2020 @ 8:49 pm

  17. We agreed purchase terms with sellers the weekend before Boris locked down the country and instructed solicitors to conduct transaction. They assured me they could do the work working from home having systems in place to work remotely. We are in rented and very anxious to minimise the length of time to Complete. Fortunately we are ‘cash buyers’ and our sellers live elsewhere, so theoretically they have no chain. We’re proceeding with the hope we can ‘achieve the impossible’ and ‘get exit done’ from our rental at a cost of £500 per week.

    Comment by Philip — March 26, 2020 @ 7:58 pm

  18. Link to the BBC article

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52053527

    Comment by John — March 26, 2020 @ 7:15 pm

  19. BBC: “ Several new activities which are permitted have been added to a list outlined by the PM, including moving house, fulfilling legal obligations and….”,
    So that will hopefully help those who have exchanged, along with the practical steps the (willing/able) removals firm can and must take.

    Comment by Barry W — March 26, 2020 @ 6:50 pm

  20. I understand that movers and moving companies are hesitant in moving at this time. However the other side od this story is…..we were happy to delay given the current lockdown but my rented apartment agency basically said I have to leave my rented apartment next week when I enquired about some possible contingency. They offered no other options but leave. So we are left with no choice but to pack and try to move during the lockdown.
    We will rent a van and do it bit by bit.

    Comment by James H — March 26, 2020 @ 6:45 pm

  21. I am an Estate Agent and would like to receive updates, especially on what is happening with buying and selling homes during the coronavirus lockdown and what removal companies should or shouldn’t do.

    Many Thanks.

    Comment by Miss S Grant — March 26, 2020 @ 5:18 pm

  22. Can I still buy a home buyer’s protection for property purchase now?

    Comment by Gaile — March 26, 2020 @ 4:35 pm

  23. We are exchanged and due to complete tomorrow on a new build with first time buyers buying our house. Our move is still going ahead, we would lose everything if we didnt including mortgage offer, surveys, reservation on new house, buyers have left their rental and living with vulnerable parents whilst still working, which is a huge risk. Removals coming as a two man team in separate vehicles wearing protective equipment and adhering to 2m rule as much as possible, and there will be just myself and my partner present. We will have everything ready then vacate whilst they pack up and unload into new house. New owners will delay unloading until we are well clear. We are paying by bank transfer etc, this is a vital move and needs to go ahead and we are minimising the risk to everyone as much as possible. Not ideal but we have followed all social isolation for over a week and again will be in for the forseable after this. I 100% think house moves not exchanged should be halted but those due to complete in the very near future should continue as safely as possible, as stated by Micheal Gove the other morning.

    Comment by AB — March 26, 2020 @ 8:21 am

  24. I exchanged a few weeks ago and completed last week. My removal company cancelled on me which I totally understand. Luckily my work has provided a van and driver to help, plus I’ve asked a friend. We are going provide a chain and get everything loaded without being close to each other. For the heavy stuff we are going to wear face masks and gloves throughout. I have no choice in the matter as my landlord has refused me staying saying that the new tenants are self moving and are all ready to move in. It has caused me stress as I paid for the full packing service as well so I’ve been doing all the packing myself now for the last 2 days. I think if people are being safe and following the rules, there shouldn’t be any problems.

    Comment by Phil — March 26, 2020 @ 7:55 am

  25. We were due to move into a new build tomorrow.
    We are top of the chain of three.
    All set to go then our removals firm closed on Wednesday like many others and then that evening the estate agents closed.
    We are retired and close to the age of self isolating.
    Feel awful for the young family who are due to move into our house.
    Keeping to the Government restrictions we want to keep safe.
    We have agreed with all solicitors to defer. Giving 5-10 days notice.
    What worries us is how long the move will be halted. Weeks or months??
    Very stressed and upset.

    Comment by Theresa — March 26, 2020 @ 7:37 am

  26. House we are buying nearly completed then person In chain put all on hold due to coronavirus.

    I’m ok with this however we have a mortgage offer…which might run out if things don’t get back to normal.

    How likely do you think the bank would extend the offer? Given these unfortunate unforeseen circumstances

    Thanks

    Comment by Dan — March 26, 2020 @ 1:28 am

  27. I completed on Monday lunchtime. Had booked a van to move this weekend, with help from friends. Now with restrictions, I feel I shouldn’t ask friends to help. I am stuck with all my things in the rental property so can’t actually move into my new home. Would really appreciate some advice if possible. I cannot physically move my furniture myself.

    Comment by Sandra Hobbs — March 25, 2020 @ 9:23 pm

  28. Similar boat to most people. We are due to move this Monday. Removal company at this stage are still honouring this. We are moving 300 miles, my partner has already left his job so we can’t afford to stay where we are plus we have already given notice. I have relocated with work and I am classed as an essential worker. Would we be allowed to actually move??

    Comment by Rachael Finch — March 25, 2020 @ 9:10 pm

  29. Exchange and completion isn’t just something that selfish people want to happen, it isn’t a process in isolation. We are moving 350 miles away. I’ve left my job and started my new one, remotely until we move. My husband has left his job. We are shared owners and our sale absolutely has to complete in 3 weeks or we lose everything. Our children have left their schools; there is sooo much at stake. All the solicitors and agents in this process have been complacent and unprofessional. We have been screaming about getting it all tucked up for bloody weeks now, and were meant to be exchanging on Friday and got an email from our solicitor advising not to exchange!! Argh, have you not been listening to us?!?!
    Our movers still want our business but solicitors are so frigging wishywashy. 🙁

    Comment by Frostie — March 25, 2020 @ 5:54 pm

  30. I’m meant to exchange and complete on friday, if we don’t complete in the next month we lose our morgatage offer. We can move just using our cars and the use of a van. But if we don’t move we are stuck in our rental which we gave notice on and have to leave. Should we exchange and complete.

    Comment by Hannah — March 25, 2020 @ 4:36 pm

  31. I don’t really understand why removal firms are saying stop transactions
    from completing. Moving home responsibly, and safely is more than achieveable with the public health guidance. Our removal company has 2 men coming who will be wearing masks and gloves. They will stay 2 meters apart as much as possible – and it will be possible for the most part. We have been asked to either stay in one room away from them and not move around the property, go in the garden if it’s nice weather or take our daily exercise that day away from the property so the risk is lowered. They are calling us on the day to check we have not had any symptoms. We will them drive our own car to the new property and stay in one room whilst they unload. We have had to agree that they will only put furniture into the relevant rooms but boxes will all be put in the largest downstairs room or garage for us to manage when they leave. We will pay them via online banking.
    I think this is more than reasonable and safe and there are ways to carry out a home move safely if exchange has already taken place.
    Common sense must prevail! There is no reason for people to be left heartbroken and unsure about such transactions.
    We are due to move on Friday and have thousands of pounds already invested. If we don’t move we will spend lockdown without a washing machine, fridge or any money as we are relying upon the new build and it’s appliances and the equity from the house to get by. This is not putting our new home above people’s lives, there is no reason moves cannot take place safely and in full compliance with the guidance.
    Wishing everyone good luck whatever your circumstances!!

    Comment by Anxiously hoping — March 25, 2020 @ 2:22 pm

  32. Hi looking for advice could I get a refund on a property, that I have paid the estate agent a fee of £300 to conduct viewings, because of the corona virus, one viewing as been done, before the outbreak was made public. Kind Regards
    Jean Westby

    Comment by Mrs Jean Westby — March 25, 2020 @ 2:21 pm

  33. I really wish people would stop trying to get house moves done while this is going on. I work for a removal company and because people are still happy to move then I am forced to work. It’s a huge worry having to be around people all day and not being able to distance myself. On top of that we are having to be in peoples houses putting our own health and the health of our families at risk. We could be passing this around without even knowing. Remember that someone’s life is alot more important than you’re new home.

    Comment by Anxious — March 25, 2020 @ 1:44 pm

  34. I got the keys to my own house 13th March, and had three weeks to get decorating done and new stair rails fitted. My move was scheduled for Friday 3rd April. I had given notice to my letting agency as I have rented for 6 months with my dog, had instructed BT to swap phone and broadband to the new house, had spoken to the council for the council tax, had started with the energy provider, and the water. Now my move has been cancelled!

    I spoke to the letting agency on Monday just gone and they were in the process of closing the office, with staff working from home. I was advised to ‘stay put’, and they would inform the new tenants. What annoys me is I was depending on the deposit refund to pay some bills but now am faced with finding further rent from my limited income (pension). My savings are fast becoming depleted because of house move expenses, and I just wish I could get out of this extremely cold, expensive to heat house and move into my own little one, which is just a 10-12 minute drive away in the same town.

    Comment by Janet — March 25, 2020 @ 12:29 pm

  35. Solicitors should not be allowing house moves to continue and complete. It’s ok for them sat working from home and not putting themselves at risk but they are putting buyers and sellers at risk by continuing.
    I own a removal company and we have stopped working until we get more clarification. I am not willing to put my staff, customers and myself at risk in these dangerous times. BAR have also instructed removal companies to stop trading and follow the prime minister’s advice. Moving house is not essential at this time

    Comment by Gillian — March 25, 2020 @ 12:00 pm

  36. Hello,
    Looking for some advice.
    We exchanged contracts on a new build September 2019. The anticipated completion date was 28/02/20. This got delayed to March 28th and then delayed again till April 24th 2020 by the builder. (bad weather and other excuses).

    Our mortgage offer is due to expire 17/04/20. We applied for an extension on the 10/03/20 to give us another month on the offer. Paid an additonal re-valuation fee of £100.00 to the lender for this to take place. Its is now 25/03/20 and the revaluation has still not taken place.
    24/03/20 I received a phone call direct from the lenders Surveyor saying that they will not go out and re-value the house due the lock down. Not to sure why the valuation was not done before hand. 14 days from instruction and payment to them saying they cannot do it.

    The builder is continuing to build the site and the house at the moment. Our solicitor has asked the builder to bring the completion date forward to the 17/04/20 or before our original mortgage offer expires.

    If the builder is unable to do the above and the lenders surveyor is unable to go out and re-value the house, this leaves us with a house due to be complete on 24/04/20 and a mortgage expiring 17/04/20.
    From my understanding and through no fault of our own, we will be forced into a position where we are legally breaking our contract with the builder and unable to complete thus potentially loosing our deposit.

    Do you have any advice that you can offer. I have contacted our solicitor/house builder and mortgage broker to try and resolve this but as of yet not getting anywhere.

    The last contact we had was 24/03/20, this was the solicitor asking the builder to bring the completion forward.
    Last we heard from the broker was that they was speaking with the lender to see what is going on.

    Comment by Michael — March 25, 2020 @ 10:34 am

  37. I’ve exchanged on the sale of my house but not exchanged on the purchase of the house I’m buying, terrified that we might become homeless, my solicitor is being great but so much uncertainty it’s unchartered waters right now. Also I am buying the house jointly with my parents and my father became ill very quickly and died on Saturday, very stressful and upsetting can’t believe that so much is happening and we need a home to go to!

    Comment by Louise Newman — March 25, 2020 @ 10:23 am

  38. At the point on completion you will own the property therefore no restrictions to you travelling to ‘your home’. With regards to the keys, surely they can be delivered to you.

    Comment by Amit — March 25, 2020 @ 9:54 am

  39. We were due to exchange yesterday and move on 31st. No idea what is happening now. I agree that removals firms shouldn’t be pressure to take the risk, but I am of course concerned about what will happen to our move at all! We have been trying to move into this specific house since last June! We have spent half the night trying to figure out if we could do the move ourselves but we are in a 4 bedroom house with a loft full of stuff and while we are happy to put the work in (hard though it would be with no help) we cannot physically do all the loading/unloading/reloading and several trips between the 2 properties in the space of a day (or more realistically, an afternoon once funds have transferred around lunchtime), as we would only have a van or very small truck (even if we could get one). It is so hard for everyone, and I feel for everyone in this difficult position who is having to take really tricky decisions about what should and shouldn’t happen. Good luck all!

    Comment by Amanda — March 25, 2020 @ 9:49 am

  40. We’re first time buyers and are meant to be completely on Friday (27th March) We have been asked to pay deposits etc today by my solicitor. But have just had them confirm we have not exchanged as yet.
    We are living with parents so are ok to stay put for now.
    Solicitor is advising us to go ahead, despite not being able to technically move in or get keys whilst restrictions in place. They are saying our mortgage and help to buy will need to be put on hold and we may loose both.
    Any advise would be brilliant.

    Comment by Emily — March 25, 2020 @ 9:39 am

  41. I’m due to move this Saturday
    Removal company are happy to go ahead with move
    I’ve spoke with police who asked me if I consider move essential, to which I kind of think it is. They replied that they can’t stop me.
    Is this the case.
    Can I actually move?

    Comment by Jolie — March 25, 2020 @ 9:30 am

  42. I’m due to exchange tomorrow and have moved belongings into storage yesterday buyers homes are in boxes too my removals kept the required distance with only one allowed to speak to me

    Comment by May McCormick — March 25, 2020 @ 8:40 am

  43. I’m waiting to move in with my boyfriends rented house, once my house was completed, which had been pencilled in for next week. He rents and I’m selling. The problem is the person he rented with has moved out so I can move in before we buy our house but now it might mean us paying his rent and my mortgage as my house won’t be able to be completed. It’s all I can think about and the worry is driving me mad.

    Comment by Emma — March 25, 2020 @ 6:53 am

  44. Our move date is 30th of March and our Removal Firm has said they’ve been advised by BAR not to continue with our transaction. We’re in a short chain and with the guy we’re buying from also affected by the removal Company as he was using the same one. We’re moving approximately 1 mile witching Porthcawl and he’s moving 25 miles to Swansea. As yet we can find no alternative removal Company and although we could have probably hired a van and done this ourselves a few years ago we’re now retired and need the help. We’d be grateful for any advice.

    Comment by Mike Davies — March 25, 2020 @ 3:13 am

  45. I am due to move 70 miles because of my job. I’m a key worker so I have to go to work. While waiting for the move I have been staying near to where I work but because of the lockdown I can’t stay there until this is over. I face 12 hour night shift with 3 hours a day driving. I need to move and even more frustrating for me what I am buying is empty. Im even moving myself so not to put removal people at risk. I’m so stressed by all of this.

    Comment by Claire — March 25, 2020 @ 12:59 am

  46. I have been in a small chain since December 2019 where I agreed a sale of my property and subsequently secured an offer on a new property. A few weeks ago once all queries had been concluded I wanted to exchange but this proved difficult with my buyers as I could sense them stalling. News of Coronavirus ramped up in the last few weeks to which my buyers wanting to exchange and complete on the same day. One day before exchange and completion my buyers withdraws breaking the chain because of Coronavirus fears which subsequently left with £1k+ out of pocket. Surely there has to be something done about this? Grateful for any advice.

    Comment by Ricky — March 24, 2020 @ 11:07 pm

  47. Solicitors please stop the sale process. What you do not understand is that you are compromising the removal companies.
    We are the ones who have to make the decision if it is safe to send in staff due to the potential risk of infection.
    Solicitors sit in their offices, pushing through sales without care for the consequence for the removals company shutting down to protect its staff and the public.
    Their client is now in a predicament that they may not be able to move.
    We have had customers crying when told the risk is too great to enter a customers house. In the interest of our staff, the public and the hope to slow down the spread. We and many other removals companies have closed.
    Please stop, just for 3 weeks and help stop the stress you are causing and compromising the sellers, buyers and all in the chain.

    Comment by Nick MCRremovals — March 24, 2020 @ 11:06 pm

  48. We are due to complete on Friday 27th – selling our house and moving to a new build. Short chain – our buyer is renting.
    Solicitors happy with going ahead as are removals.
    We have no money until the equity is released. Three kids off school and everything packed and ready to move – the anxiety is making us all ill!!
    There need be no face to face interaction at all – removals can be 2 people wearing protective equipment and we can be in another room or have vacated. Everything else can be done online.
    We have waited for this for 3 years. If our mortgage offer expires we won’t get another due to the climate.
    It all feels so unfair.
    We exchanged contracts a while ago and are just 2 days away from completion. We have followed all the guidance to the letter and feel we are being punished because some people took a trip to the beach.
    Praying for everyone living with this uncertainty. We are physically unwell from the stress of not knowing. The kids are devestated. Please help!!

    Comment by Luke — March 24, 2020 @ 11:06 pm

  49. We are sat here wondering what to do as well… we are meant to pay and get keys to our new house around April 3rd, we’ve given our notice on our rental house, which we are due to leave on 15th. Husband has cancer and we were looking to move in before any treatment. Just devastating to potentially delay for many weeks. Only looking to move 20 minutes away and it has been a massive struggle to even get this far. Removal company have shut down too. Can’t move ourselves with a van due to having a very heavy piano. Cannot pay mortgage AND rent. Self employed too and losing income! What a total nightmare. Only married 3 years too…. life is not good right now! Thoughts go out to everyone else going through this on top of everything else….

    Comment by Fiona — March 24, 2020 @ 9:17 pm

  50. Got a call from the solicitor today. The Scottish land registry has been closed to prevent the purchase and sale of houses during the Coronavirus. He mentioned that there is a chance that it may become digital, which would allow the sale of houses. But if this doesn’t happen, then we can not buy or sell homes until the lockdown is lifted. In the meantime, I’m paying for both my new place and now the house I was due to hand keys over on 3rd April. All whilst my wages are taking a huge hit due to government restrictions. Why close the land registry? Why not make sure both parties consent to sale during this difficult time, rather than force a delay. As if it wasn’t going to be financially crippling with reduced wages, but to be stuck in the middle of a house sale and in two residential properties is not good.

    Comment by Alistair — March 24, 2020 @ 8:19 pm

  51. Unfortunately like a lot of people on here we are due to exchange and complete on Friday on our new build property, which my solicitor was still happy to do. However a solicitor of someone in the chain has said they won’t do it until the restrictions are lifted! we are so upset, and worried about someone pulling out! Restrictions now minimum 3 weeks, they better not be extended…

    Comment by Hayey — March 24, 2020 @ 7:42 pm

  52. We are due to move tomorrow. Our company cancelled at 10 pm last night. Luckily we managed to find someone who would move us. Fingers crossed it will go through. Used Any Van if anyone’s interested. I will update tomorrow if it’s successful. The original unprofessional company have refunded us but only after I threatened legal action. I also consider this an essential move. Good luck to all those in limbo.

    Comment by Sarah — March 24, 2020 @ 7:22 pm

  53. Please put a ban on people moving house if they have not exchanged. I work for a conveyancing firm and am being left feeling like I HAVE to go into work because people and estate agents are still expecting house moves to go ahead. Not only am I helping to spread the virus by exchanging matters I am putting myself and others around me at risk as I have no choice but to use public transport to get to work

    Comment by Anon — March 24, 2020 @ 7:04 pm

  54. My solicitor has said the Land Registry is shut and rge are tring to put a digital procedure in place, basicalli if we go ahead and my seller goes bust we dont have a leg to stand on. Is this correct

    Comment by Eileen Wild — March 24, 2020 @ 6:16 pm

  55. We are sofa surfing with family, and due to exchange and complete on the same day on Friday 27th. We’re hoping to hire a van and self – drive on Saturday 28th and not come into contact with anyone..

    There are many people who will be made homeless if they cannot physically move into the new homes.. we’re fortunate enough to have family but they’re vulnerable and it would be safer for us to move out on Friday as planned.

    Answers would be so helpful!

    Comment by BumbleVee — March 24, 2020 @ 5:45 pm

  56. We complete this Friday and following our removal companies instruction have for the past three weeks kept them updated, they would only accept bookings two weeks in advance. Rang today to book and told they were now closed and I would still be liable for storage costs as I hadn’t booked a date and taken out cancellation insurance. Is this correct?

    Comment by C Wilson — March 24, 2020 @ 5:21 pm

  57. I am waiting for searches to come back from my local authority, so frustrating as everything is done from my side!

    Comment by Hinesh Patel — March 24, 2020 @ 4:46 pm

  58. Our conveyencer has just told us that they have been advised from the government to put all transactions on hold. We were due to move into our new property on Tuesday, can’t express how angry we are.

    Comment by Aidan Johnston — March 24, 2020 @ 4:38 pm

  59. We exchanged last week and are due to be completing on Friday. Both solicitor and builder have informed us that this should be going ahead as planned. Just concerned about the actual move at the moment! We are planning on moving everything in our cars – moving less than a minutes drive away around a residential area. Would this be allowed as we would be able to social distance whilst doing this? We haven’t given notice yet – but can’t really afford to pay both rent and mortgage for more than a
    month. Any updates will be gratefully received!

    Comment by Katherine Gosling — March 24, 2020 @ 3:39 pm

  60. Thanks very much indeed for a swift and comprehensive reply.
    I realise there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer,but your reply has given as much info as we could expect,and obviously each situation will have differing factors.
    I hope solicitors and conveyancers will apply common sense in my sons case,as all parties,and removers are happy to go ahead at this late stage.
    Thank you once again,
    Stay safe,
    Andrew Eagle

    Comment by Andrew Eagle — March 24, 2020 @ 3:35 pm

  61. Why are Estate Agents and solicitors allowing/still pushing exchanges? So dangerous, putting pressure on clients, and more so Removal companies. People are dying. I own a Removal company with employees that have families. How can they abide by the social distancing rules without putting so many at risk. Surely moves can wait. The risk for Removal companies are null and void insurances/H&S rules broken. Disgusting that the Law Society have not updated their website on advice re Coronavirus since 13th March. I feel for people that have already exchanged, but its important for people to stay safe. Its only possible if all agree and realise whats most important. Stay safe everyone.

    Comment by Jason — March 24, 2020 @ 3:15 pm

  62. So we complete tomorrow – already exchanged – so expecting to move. So far the solicitor and removal company agree. So fingers crossed

    Comment by Kendal stacey — March 24, 2020 @ 2:01 pm

  63. we are very close to exchange on sale and purchase of our property, i’m concerened about how the delay could affect our mortgage offer as this is only valid for 6 months. Is there any kind of extension in place on mortgage offers in the circumstances?

    Comment by Vicky — March 24, 2020 @ 12:41 pm

  64. I’ve exchanged & completion is only dependent on me vacating the property this week as there’s no chain either side. My solicitor has said to move as I’d be in breach of contract but it is down to removals being able to do so. They haven’t yet confirmed how they’re proceeding and don’t know if they can now function. Clarity is absolutely needed from the government as soon as possible.

    Comment by Emma — March 24, 2020 @ 12:36 pm

  65. Based on what Michael Gove said this morning when asked about house moves he basically said where you can pause then do so, but he did not explicitly say that you could not move. we are in the position where we have exchanged legal contracts and are due to complete on the 31st of March. my solicitor is still saying that it is a go and all parties in the chain are saying that they can move, so I am moving. We don’t have a removal company and my only issue was that the hire company we booked the 7.5 tonne from is shutting up today. Managed to secure a luton van though from another nationwide company, not ideal but I will make it work.

    Comment by Stephen Bell — March 24, 2020 @ 11:01 am

  66. I am in the process of buying my first home, and hoping to complete in mid-April. The rental contract on my current flatshare ends on April 30th, by which time I need to have moved out. Like many others, I am incredibly stressed about what the lockdown means, and the total lack of clarification from anyone in government regarding what is classed as ‘essential’ with regards to house-buying and moving house. There must be thousands of us across the country in this situation.

    Comment by Esther — March 24, 2020 @ 10:43 am

  67. Does any one have any information regarding house move in these uncertain times. We complete on Thursday 26th.

    Comment by steve — March 24, 2020 @ 8:30 am

  68. Surely, for anyone who has exchanged contracts, moving house is classed as “essential travel”.

    Not only is it now legally binding to complete (or else lose the deposit), but if the move doesn’t go ahead, the stress could make someone suicidal.

    Removal companies will want to keep to their side of the contract. They can keep their staff down to two and can wear protective clothing.

    Comment by Sharon Hayes — March 24, 2020 @ 7:35 am

  69. Like many others . Me and my wife are looking to exchange and complete on Tuesday the 31st March. With what’s happening with the government I’m unsure weather this is going to be going ahead …… really stressful!!

    Comment by Andrew kelly — March 24, 2020 @ 6:51 am

  70. We have exchanged contracts and have the keys and were going to move at the weekend, 27th March. But with the recent announcement is it classed as essential travel??

    Comment by Andrea Shaw — March 24, 2020 @ 6:29 am

  71. I am due to complete and move on March 31st. There is no guidance on whether this is essential but it’s likely to create a congregation of more than 2 people.
    The ramifications for non completion are serious but perhaps more worrying is the expiry of the mortgage offer.
    Are you aware of any guidance, it really could be a financial disaster for us but we obviously don’t want to put ourselves or anyone else at risk

    Comment by Mark — March 24, 2020 @ 6:26 am

  72. Similar situation to people below however I’m less concerned about moving personal items, more concerned about carpet fitters, furniture/appliance deliveries not being able to happen. I don’t want to be paying a mortgage for a shell of a house that I can’t live in!

    Comment by Isaac — March 24, 2020 @ 1:21 am

  73. Similar predicament to so many on here tonight. Due to complete this Thursday 26th March. Removals booked, deposit paid… can removals company honour this?

    Comment by Elizabeth B — March 23, 2020 @ 11:59 pm

  74. I was due to complete on the 27th March . Now the current owners have delayed for 6 weeks due to the Virus and isolating in the property .
    By this stage my mortgage offer will expire . I am currently in a hotel as I believed I was moving in to the house in the next couple of days so had gave up my apartment .
    I see alot of people here are in similar positions . Im concerned it will be even harder than now to get a mortgage offer in the future after this financial crisis .

    Comment by Chloe — March 23, 2020 @ 11:08 pm

  75. We rent privately and were served notice to vacate our current property by 30th April. We have found a new house (luckily before anything major happened) but are not due to collect the keys until Friday 27th. Will this still happen? And if so are we still able to move in? We were doing it all ourselves as not far away from where we are living now. We can’t afford to pay rent on two properties but don’t want to lose out on our new house and end up with nothing:-( any advice would be much appreciated!

    Comment by Claire Craddock — March 23, 2020 @ 11:03 pm

  76. We exchanged on 2nd march and are due to complete on 3rd April, where, hopefully, we will move from London to Hampshire. We have booked a moving company will they be able to work and will we be able to move ?

    Comment by Stephen Foster — March 23, 2020 @ 10:47 pm

  77. I’m the same boat as others. Due to exchange very soon – was hoping this week. The main question is, is moving house classed as essential? What crazy times. Hope they shed some light on this. I’m sure they want to keep the housing market moving.

    Comment by Lee — March 23, 2020 @ 10:41 pm

  78. Like most on here, we’re due to move into a new build this Friday. I called the mover just after this evening’s announcement (small local firm) and the owner doesn’t know if they’re allowed to move us or not. If I end up hiring a van myself (if I can!) am I even permitted to do the move?! I’d like to think it’s essential but who knows….?!

    Comment by Gavin — March 23, 2020 @ 10:32 pm

  79. Like everyone else in these comments we’re due to move into a new build on Friday. The contracts have been exchanged and we’re moving everything ourselves, will we be able to do this with the lockdown? Such a stressful time!

    Comment by Stevie — March 23, 2020 @ 10:28 pm

  80. Like many others, we are due to complete on the purchase of our new home this Thursday – it’s a new build, but again wondering where we stand given the latest announcements. If we are unable to move because of the new restrictions, would there be a financial implication imposed on us?

    Comment by Emily — March 23, 2020 @ 10:14 pm

  81. Help! What a nightmare I am due to complete the sale of my flat on 9 April and move to a friends flat for the interim, we are now in lockdown is this considered essential; given the Law Society having said that they would not approve of delays etc. I have organised removals etc incurring costs etc . We exchanged contract on 14 February and my solicitor is very old school he suggested pushing for earlier completion! I emailed the estate agent on Friday to see if he had heard of any problems etc. The whole thing is so stressful, the buyer is legally bound I know but she hasn’t come round to do any of the pre moving in measuring up etc. It all went so smoothly and now this…. asking price after three days on the market and then exchange four weeks later. Any advice very gratefully received many thanks Charlotte

    Comment by Charlotte Carr — March 23, 2020 @ 9:58 pm

  82. Our exchange date is 16th April and completion 23rd April. We are buying a house from a building company. We have handed our 1 month notice in at our current rental address. Is moving house considered essential travel? Will / how will we receive the keys for the property? If we can’t move to the property what rights do we have at our current rental? Can we stay here until we can move out?

    Comment by Carla — March 23, 2020 @ 9:53 pm

  83. New tenants due to move in on Saturday. Will they be allowed to travel and hire a van? Is this essential travel as will be going to their home>

    Comment by Marilyn — March 23, 2020 @ 9:48 pm

  84. Due to move Friday exchange and complete on same day can we still go ahead

    Comment by Barbara ford — March 23, 2020 @ 9:39 pm

  85. We are meant to be moving house from Croydon to Norfolk this Friday 27th – will it still go ahead

    Comment by Shirley simmons — March 23, 2020 @ 9:20 pm

  86. Like others, I am due to complete this Friday. I’m buying a new build and the couple buying my house are renting and have given notice, so I would imagine if the move didn’t happen they’d in effect be homeless. So personally I think this is essential. Very stressed.

    Comment by Alan Beresford — March 23, 2020 @ 9:19 pm

  87. we are supposed to be moving into our house on Friday. Will we still be able yo do this. exchange and completion o same day??

    Comment by Charlotte Collins — March 23, 2020 @ 9:02 pm

  88. Surely moving house is classed as ‘absolutely necessary’, given that it is a legally binding contract that has been agreed and signed by all parties?

    Comment by Sam — March 23, 2020 @ 9:00 pm

  89. We are due to receive our keys on Wednesday to a new build. In light of what the pm has just announced, are we still able to do this? We are hiring a van and moving ourselves so won’t need to meet anyone outside of our family.

    Comment by Ben tinson — March 23, 2020 @ 8:42 pm

  90. We are currently in rented accommodation but complete on Friday on our own property, what happens if we cannot get a van to move our furniture? Can we still move if we are in lockdown? So stressed

    Comment by alison Edwards — March 23, 2020 @ 7:43 pm

  91. What would happen with regards to physically moving house if completion has happened but we are in lockdown, would we be allowed to move ourselves into the property as travel may be restricted

    Comment by Ayshe — March 23, 2020 @ 3:36 pm

  92. You seem to missing the point that although most things can be done digitally your pre-purchase survey cannot.

    Comment by Neil — March 22, 2020 @ 2:24 pm

  93. Very helpful your article. I have a doubt .. Can you please help me?
    We exchanged contracts last Monday…
    Completion date is 30/4/20.
    My mother is 80 years old , self isolating…because of age group ..
    I really need to sell my flat because I am moving back to Portugal…
    But I am afraid of flying at these times ..
    Other Alternative would move to a Travel Lodge and stay there for a month or two …
    What would you advise? It is a chain free sell …
    Thanks

    Comment by Cláudia — March 22, 2020 @ 2:15 pm

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