We may be in the middle of another lockdown in Scotland but, unlike the last time, regulations don’t prevent house and flat hunters progressing with the purchase of their dream home.
This time around, the Scottish Government has permitted estate agents, conveyancers, and removal companies to continue operating.
And, if you observe a few simple hygiene and social distancing rules, you can still go-ahead with viewings, make an offer and negotiating all the conveyancing procedures involved in moving, mostly from the comfort of your armchair.
As with all things affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, many of the processes are now done virtually, so here are some handy tips that may be helpful:
While it’s still possible to attend viewings in person, we recommend that potential buyers attend a virtual viewing first to rule out any properties they don’t like, without visiting them in person.
We offer exceptional, high quality professional videos for our listings that will allow you to see each property in detail, virtually - at least as a first step.
Of course, few if any people would go-ahead with a purchase without seeing the property in person, so we’re happy to arrange visits for those properties you have shortlisted to see.
But be aware that regulations about social distancing and hygiene apply, so make sure you bring along a face covering and be prepared to sanitise your hands before entering the property or wear gloves. We are also afraid to say that in line with government guidance, children aren’t allowed to view.
We also advise that you avoid touching furniture, fittings, including light switches and door handles, or any other surfaces.
Making an offer
Making a verbal offer to a seller through your solicitor will normally be done by telephone or email so there is no change to that during lockdown.
Thereafter, however documents require to be signed, often in the presence of a witness, and your identity must be confirmed to comply with prevention of money laundering regulations and that can involve a lot of paperwork.
Fortunately, digital identification is now commonplace throughout the industry, with many conveyancers offering this service to clients.
Whereas, in the past, conveyancing lawyers would insist that you visit their office with a passport and proof of address, now many use online ID checks.
To access this online system, you will need a UK address, but you don’t have to be a UK citizen.
You will be asked for some personal details to be checked against records held by a range of organisations from mobile phone providers to credit agencies, the Passport Office or the DVLA.
Last Summer, the Land Registry replaced the need to sign legal documents in person with electronic signatures.
While the current system still requires a witness to be physically present, plans are underway for that to be replaced by technology that digitally verifies the witness.
Observing lockdown rules
The Scottish Government has published national guidelines on its website for those buying, selling, and moving. Please refer to their website for the most up to date guidelines: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-moving-home/
All areas under local lockdown have a list of exceptional circumstances where people can continue activities despite restrictions. In most cases, facilitating a house move is included in this.
This means that, for most property purchases, including new-build developments, transactions and moves can largely progress as normal.
For more information on buying or selling a property during lockdown call Purdie & Co on 0131 346 7240 or visit www.purdiesolicitors.co.uk