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Searching For a Property During COVID-19 Posted: 9th April 2020
At Nicol Estate Agents we have great relationships with a range of associates, all who have one common goal – to help make your move a smooth and stress-free process.
One of these partners is Blackadders. We work closely with Katharine Smith, a Director in the Residential Conveyancing team. We have teamed up with her to help you get to grips with the effect of COVID-19 on the property market here in Scotland.
Here, Katharine answers our clients’ common questions. Please note, the situation is changing rapidly so we recommend you contact us at Nicol Estate Agents, your solicitor or mortgage broker for the very latest information.
In the first of two blogs, we look at moving in general at this time. In part two, we will be looking at the legalities if you are in the middle of moving home.

Q: Can I still purchase a property during this time?

A: In theory, yes, you can still make an offer. Most solicitors and estate agents are still working remotely.  However, viewings will not be possible at this time and you should think very carefully about submitting an offer if you have not viewed the property.

Q: What is the current guidance from the government about moving home?

A: Where the property being moved into is vacant, then you can continue with this transaction although you should follow the guidance on social distancing.  Where the property is currently occupied, all parties are being encouraged 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 will no longer be in place.

Q: Are mortgages still available?

A: Yes, but if the loan to value is more than 60% then most banks and building societies will have to put applications on hold.  One reason for this is the lack of availability of necessary valuations.  Not all lenders accept the home report.  Another reason is staff shortages and available members of staff are receiving lots of calls from existing mortgage customers requesting payment holidays.  Mortgages with a loan to value of less than 60% are less problematic because desktop valuations may be permitted but you should still expect the application to take longer than usual.

Q: What will happen to house prices?

A: The honest answer is that we just don’t know at the moment.  Prior to Coronavirus the market in and around the south side of Glasgow was competitive.  As a seller you could probably expect your property to go to a closing date and a sale price in excess of the home report was likely to be achieved.  At the moment there is very little movement in the market, but we expect things to move again once the current restrictions are lifted.

Q: What will happen to interest rates?

Interest rates are at an historic low.  This will benefit anyone on a mortgage deal which goes up and down in line with the Bank of England base rate.  If you are on a fixed rate, then it will make no difference to what you pay each month.

Interest rates are unlikely to rise until the crisis is over and even then, it is likely that any increases will be small and gradual.

Q: What is the Land Register, why is it closed and what does that mean?

A: The Land Register of Scotland is one of the main records of land ownership in Scotland.  It is one of many public registers which are maintained by Registers of Scotland.  In light of the current situation Registers of Scotland’s offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh are closed but a number of their staff are working from home.  The closure of the offices has also resulted in the closure of the application record.  Only applications which can be submitted electronically can be presented for registration at this time.  While that means that solicitors can apply for the usual advance notice in anticipation of sale/purchase transaction no other documents can be registered at this time.  That means that the record of land ownership cannot be updated, and any associated mortgage paperwork cannot be registered either.  Registers of Scotland are working on a “digital solution” which, it is hoped, will be up and running shortly.  In the meantime, emergency legislation has been passed which extends the validity of an advance notice until 10 days after the application record is fully re-opened.

Katharine qualified as a Solicitor in 2003 having studied for her LLB at the University of Glasgow. She has dealt mainly with the purchase and sale of residential properties throughout her career but also handles security work associated with a property purchase unless the mortgage provider requires otherwise. She has a wide range of expertise on the rules and rates of land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT) and additional dwelling supplement (ADS).

Katharine also deals with re-mortgages and any transfers of title that might be required either following divorce, separation or bereavement.  Having lived and worked in Glasgow all of her life, she has unrivalled knowledge of the Glasgow property market.

Contact Katharine Smith.

Whatever your reason for moving; whether it's for extra space, to downsize or you may simply have found your dream home, Nicol can help. Our knowledge of the local property market helps us develop a marketing plan that's right for you and your property.
We want our clients to be delighted with the service we provide. Listening to your needs and understanding your requirements is our starting point. To find out more about our approach to selling homes, download our comprehensive Guide to Selling your Property here.
If you are planning on selling your home, contact Nicol Estate Agents today for an appraisal of your property. Our Managing Director Douglas Nicol and Estate Agent and Valuer Daniel Cohen carry out hundreds of market appraisals every year, giving them an intimate and unparalleled knowledge of the property market in Glasgow, from city centre apartments to family homes and building plots. We will talk to you about the property market in your area, compare sales evidence, local demand for similar properties, outline our tailored marketing plan and provide details of our sales support strategy right through to completion.