LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

Posted on Wednesday, July 1, 2020


LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

With the property market in Reigate and Redhill having returned almost to normal, we thought we'd share with you some of our experiences during lockdown to give you an insider's view on how existing sales were affected.

 

Even before lockdown began we had buyers self-isolating in London, so we could already see that some challenges lay ahead. But, when a full lockdown was officially announced, none of us really knew what that would mean: could people still move? Would they want to?Would buyers withdraw in panic? And how long would lockdown and its after-effects last?

 

Starting with the worst of it, we lost 10 sales during lockdown. Some fell through because buyers either reduced their offers or for cold feet, others for more painful realities like people losing their jobs. We were extremely fortunate to be entering lockdown with around 80 properties under offer, so while losing 10 was obviously unfortunate, keeping the other 70-odd  going was a positive outcome.

 

We managed to get 10 completions through in the space of a single month during lockdown, but the process of lining them all up was, to say the least, nail-biting for everyone involved.

 

A big problem was the severity of language in the delayed completion clauses they were being recommended by Government and solicitors, along with inconsistencies between different legal firms around liabilities and penalties. All of this is perfectly understandable from a purely legal point of view, but for regular people simply trying to move home it was proving a distressing obstacle.

 

We’d sort of imagined that everyone would just pull together through it all and accept that things might go wrong, but the reality  in terms of legal liabilities just isn't like that. Of course contracts would need to be rewritten in the event of Covid-19 preventing someone from completing after exchanging contacts: the law needs to assume the worst and then to protect.

 

So we took the only real option for people to move with certainty, which was to push the uncertainty to the very limit. The last thing anyone wants to do when moving home is exchange and complete on the same day, but it really was the only way to line up every sale in every chain on exactly the same terms. English law allows anyone to withdraw without penalty right up to the point of exchanging contracts, so while the legal side was taken care of - by removing any obligation to proceed - the practical side relied entirely on everyone sticking to their word with no last minute nerves.

 

It was perhaps the most condensed period of will it/won't it sales we've ever had! Everything right to the wire; no guarantees; just willpower and commitment. And it really does warrant a huge congratulations and well done for every buyer and seller who stuck with it, trusted each other and made it happen.