U.K. Urges Home Buyers to Suspend Deals During Virus Lockdown

Alex Morales
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U.K. Urges Home Buyers to Suspend Deals During Virus Lockdown

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. government urged home buyers to suspend transactions while the country remains in lockdown as part of efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Ministers have agreed with banks that mortgage offers should be extended in cases where transactions are delayed because of the pandemic, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said Thursday in a statement. They’re also working with lawyers to develop a standard legal process for altering the completion dates of deals.

“Given the situation in the UK with regard to the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), we urge parties involved in home moving to adapt and be flexible to alter their usual processes,” the ministry said.

The pandemic is hurting large sectors of the U.K. economy, with the property market suffering a dramatic slowdown. Real estate portal Zoopla said Thursday that house sales are set to plunge 60% in the next three months. The government’s “social distancing” guidance for people to stay away from those they don’t share a home with makes it hard for prospective buyers to view homes, arrange surveys and move into new properties.

The ministry also said:

Where home buyers are moving into a vacant property, they can proceed with the transaction, but should follow guidance on home removalsRenters should also seek to delay planned movesIf contracts have been exchanged, but the property is still occupied, the parties should seek to delay completion of the dealSellers were advised no one should be allowed to visit their homes for property viewings

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