Samantha East

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Property Focus: Residential Completion Delays

Coronavirus / 27 March 2020

In light of the measures in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19, The Law Society has advised conveyancers across the country to delay any pending completions until the lockdown ends.  How will this impact on those currently in the process of buying or selling and those thinking about putting their property on the market?

Where contracts have not yet exchanged we are working hard to progress transactions as far as possible whilst abiding by social distancing regulations and working from home.  Transactions will take longer than usual, and it is important to liaise with all parties but particularly with lenders to ensure that mortgage offers remain valid.  We anticipate delays in obtaining search results while providers work remotely, and local authorities and utility providers increase focus on providing vital services during the rapidly changing climate.  It is advisable to delay exchange of contracts as failure to complete by the completion date agreed in the contract could incur penalty costs and interest.  However, if you are exchanging contracts and/or arranging to complete during the pandemic, we can look to agree additional clauses in the contract to allow for unforeseen delays (i.e. where a party falls ill and/or needs to self-isolate).

Where contracts have exchanged, and you are due to complete imminently, we strongly advise that a delayed completion date is agreed wherever possible.  It is important to remember that there are stringent rules in place restricting movement and those in breach face police enforcement.  We can assist in liaising with mortgage lenders to extend offers by up to three months and renegotiating completion dates set by the sale contract.

Where completion is critical, and a new date cannot be agreed, these moves may be exempt from such enforcement, however, it is crucial that explicit provisions are made to prevent risks presented by the virus and it is advisable that this only occurs where the property is vacant.

If you are considering putting your home on the market it is important to recognise that finding a buyer at this time will be very difficult.  You should not invite visitors into your home for viewings and it may not be possible to obtain a valuation.  Estate agents will be best placed to advise you on how best to approach the marketing of your property at this time and we can put you in touch with trusted contacts to discuss your circumstances.

If you require advice regarding your property transaction, whatever stage it has reached, please contact us.


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This update is for general purposes and guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should seek legal advice before relying on its content. This update relates to the prevailing circumstances at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments. If you have general queries about our updates, please email:

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