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We have all been told to stay at home except for “essential purposes”, but which home are we to stay in?

The first lockdown in 2020 placed all house moves on hold, even in cases where missives were concluded and entry dates agreed, and for a lengthy period at that. We had the same stay at home and work from home if you can order as we have now. So, allowing house moves to go ahead during this lockdown would seem counter-intuitive to the purposes of it, right?

Obviously, there is a fine balance to be struck between keeping everyone safe and restricting the spread of the virus and limiting the impact on the economy. There is no getting away from the fact that damage will be done to the economy and that will have knock-on effect in the housing market but perhaps not immediately.

The guidance as issued by the Scottish Government in relation to the lockdown as a whole states that, in a level 4 area you can only leave your home (or garden) for “essential purposes”.

Essential purposes are further described as “reasonable excuses” and the guidance provides a list of reasonable excuses.

House moves can still go ahead. In fact, there have been no provisions made, at least not at this stage, which will impact on the housing market, at least not from a theoretical point of view anyway.

The guidance further states “whilst it is permitted to leave your house for activities in connection with moving home (including viewing a property), or for activities in connection with the essential maintenance, purchase, sale, letting, or rental of residential property that the person owns or is otherwise responsible for, at this time it is advisable to postpone, if possible.  Travelling for the purposes of undertaking essential work on a property other than your main residence should not be used as a pretext for a holiday.  You should not stay longer than for the length of time required to undertake the necessary work”.

Removal firms can still operate, trades people can still enter other people’s homes, and anyone can view a property which is advertised for sale, in person. That is right, you can still enter other people’s homes to view with a purpose of potentially offering and/ or buying. These provisions are of course subject to social distancing and hygiene restrictions.

Where there is some ambiguity in the guidance is whether you can view a property out with your local authority area. The whole of mainland Scotland is under Tier 4 restrictions and now lockdown. We have been told not to travel out with our local authority area and not to travel more than five miles for exercise. However, there will be house moves taking place across local authority areas and across the country as a whole. Indeed, this will further extend to crossing borders over the whole of the UK.

Estate agents are still open (although their office doors may be closed). Viewings can go ahead. Pretty much all estate agents advertise online and show the necessary photographs of the properties to market same. Increasingly, more and more estate agents are offering online tours of properties. All of this helps in the current lockdown to help comply with the stay-at-home instruction and to prevent mixing, ensure social distancing and of course hygiene. The dilemma for purchasers and sellers is whether online is good enough to be able to appreciate what it is like being in a property?

Although we as solicitors are open, we are doing as much as we can online, by email and by phone and of course by post where necessary. If you are considering putting your house on the market or indeed considering viewing and buying a property, with the current restrictions in place it is best to be as prepared as possible. Below is a list of things to consider before committing to either purchasing or selling.

  1. Your title documents. These will be either a Land Certificate or older handwritten deeds.
  2. A note of your mortgage provider and mortgage account number. Your solicitor will ensure the redemption of your mortgage as part of the transaction or if you are buying, your solicitor will need to receive a copy of your loan papers in order to be able to order the loan funds.
  3. An obvious one but essential. The transaction will not proceed without ID no matter how well you know your solicitor.
  4. Bank statement and other proof of funding.
  5. Copy planning application(s), Building Warrant and Completion Certificate for any alterations carried out at the property which required these permissions and consents.
  6. NHBC paperwork if the property is less than ten years old.
  7. SEPA registration documentation if for instance there is a septic tank you use.
  8. Are you aware of any defects or issues with the title to your property? If so, do you have a Title Indemnity Policy? Again, your solicitor will need to see this.
  9. Did you buy the property through a shared equity or government Help to Buy scheme? Again, details of all the parties involved will need to be provided to your solicitor.

This list is not exhaustive as there are many unique circumstances which can come with property ownership. As with anything relating to your property transaction for the best advice and a detailed discussion and assurance as to how to proceed, contact us here at The McKinstry Company and we can take you through the whole process.

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Some of our happy clients
  • Really helpful and friendly always replied to calls and emails. Thank you very much for all your help and advice and hard work.

    Mr S, Auchinleck
  • First class throughout 100% better than last time we moved house and used a different firm. Always responded to promptly with appropriate detailed replies. First Class

    Mr N, Ayr
  • Thank you for the support during a difficult time.

    Mrs M, Ayr
  • Every email was timely and actioned quickly. Kirsty and Libby were exceptional to deal with. They kept me informed in a timely manner with the added complication of our sale being carried out whilst we are currently based in America.

  • My emails were always responded to in a timely manner no matter who I was dealing with. Thank you to Nat and Kirsty who helped throughout our move and during some difficult times when lock down was first announced! They have both been great.

    Miss K, Dalry
  • Everything was done extremely professionally.

    Mrs G, Ayr
  • Very happy with the way my case has been dealt with despite working restrictions due covid 19 - thank you. Calls & emails always responded to within reasonable timescale. Very impressed with lawyers and staff I have dealt with during current case and previous divorce case very friendly and efficient.

    Mrs H, Ayr
  • All very prompt, efficient, clear, friendly and personable. Not overwhelming with legal jargon. Many thanks for making the process of setting up a will so straightforward.

    Mrs D, Troon
  • We required our Wills to be amended and that was done without any problems whatsoever.

    Mrs F, Ayr
  • Very business-like and helpful

    Mr M, Ayr
  • I was very impressed with the professionalism shown by all members of staff I had any dealing with. All calls and emails were relevant to the sale of my flat. All questions I had were dealt with at the time. For any further legal matters I will certainly be using The McKinstry Company

    Mr H, Ayr
  • Excellent service most happy with attentiveness and customer service.

    Mr F, Condorrat
  • Nat & Libby efficiently dealt with every question I had.

    Mrs K, Ayr
  • Kirsty understood our weird schedule when we were often 8 hours behind UK time, and simplified things for us by liaising via email. She was extremely approachable and dependable. In Kirsty’s absence, Jodie and Nathaniel would step in and communicate with us, and were very helpful too.

    Mrs N, Ayr
  • Great service and always on hand to answer our questions. Prompt and efficient response.

    Mr H, Ferniegair
  • Questions and communication were answered promptly

    Mr W, Sinclairston
  • Speaking from my own personal experience I was perfectly happy with the service I received. Everything was done to my satisfaction.

    Mrs I, Largs
  • Very efficient, timely and very mannerly on the phone

    Mr McN, Mauchline
  • The service was superb.  Kirsty and team were extremely helpful.

    Mr and Mrs R, Ayr
  • First class service from start till finish. Always there to give help and advice.

    Mr R, Ayr
  • Great service and advice from a good professional company.

    Mr R, Kilmarnock
  • Excellent, very friendly and professional. I will be using you for all my property transactions in the future!

    Mrs S, Godstone
  • My case was handled sensitively and smoothly.

    Mr N, Ayr
  • Everyone concerned in the sale of our property was very efficient and kept us up to date with all happenings.

    D Ferguy, Cookstown
  • Great service.  Would recommend you to others.

    Mr S, Kirkmichael
  • Communication was always available when required. Made me feel confident throughout the process.

    Mr L, Ayr
  • Always replied or phoned back when I needed my questions answered.

    Miss McF, Patna
  • A very prompt and friendly service, a pleasure to deal with.

    Mr R, Aberdeen
  • Robert was very supportive.

    M Carruthers, Kilmarnock.
  • Great, Rebecca was very pleasant to deal with and went out of her way to help with our case

    S Everett, Kilbarchan
  • The solicitor / paralegal I was dealing with was very professional and performed to a high standard. I was very impressed.

    B Ferguson, Methil
  • Local firm, word of mouth good reports.

    K Rooney, Glasgow
  • All queries were dealt with in a prompt and professional manner and I was kept informed of progress as events developed. Thank you very much for making a difficult situation much easier to deal with.

    Mrs McG, Ayr
  • Communication via telephone and email was regular, prompt and comprehensive. All queries and questions were answered with no delays or problems. My experience with the McKinstry Company was pleasant and smooth.

    Mr McK, Ayr
  • My family and I received excellent service from everyone with whom we had contact. The service was of the highest standard and, as I have in the past, I will continue to recommend the company to anyone seeking legal assistance.

    Mrs S, Ayr
  • All emails and calls were dealt with promptly. Very impressed. Very very pleased with service.

    Mr and Mrs H, Hull
  • I enjoy the friendly atmosphere. Very professional.

    Mrs A, Ayr
  • Mr Honeyman was very professional and knowledgeable which made us feel reassured. Very happy with the service and if I needed a solicitor again I would get in touch.

    Mr B, Ardrossan
  • Prompt quick efficient communication.

    Mrs K, Cumnock
  • Ease of making appointments and timescale for completion of business all good.

    Mr & Mrs T, Maybole
  • Gave reassurance and comfort at a stressful time. I felt ten times better after our first meeting and support provided ultimately exceeded my desired outcome.

    Mr N, Saltcoats
  • The supportive way that the advice was provided along with the willingness to fit appointments in with our requirements

    Mr R, Ayr
  • The whole process was handled with upmost professionalism throughout.

    Mr McN, Kilwinning

We’re delighted to welcome you back!

We are open by appointment but these will be restricted to executry and matrimonial clients. Social distancing measures will be in place and please ensure face coverings are worn when entering the office.