Post lockdown: Effects on the Property Market.

Post lockdown: Effects on the Property Market, By Tamara Gooding

The Government announced new regulations that lifted the seven weeks freeze on property viewings and home moves. This has understandably left many people with the question – what effect post lockdown will have on the English property market?

Property website Zoopla previously estimated that about 373,000 property sales had been put on hold due to lockdown – with a total value of 82bn. As a result, there are many predictions that the UK property prices will fall dramatically but in comparison many people believe that we may infact see growth in the market. This is due to a combination of pent up demand and freely available mortgages at low rates.

Economists and housing experts are forecasting UK-wide price falls of up to 13%, which are predicted to be due to a number of factors such as; falling incomes and loss of jobs, lack of confidence and a general lack of transactions. In comparison, estate agent Savills has predicted the hit to the market to be more like 5% and a third of valuation surveyors predicting 4% or less.

However, the housing market commentator has said that it is particularly difficult to predict whether house prices will fall and by how much because the nature of the current crisis is different to previous downturns we’ve seen, being caused by global health, rather than economic circumstances.

The 2008 property crash is very much different from our current crisis and this is because the price crash was caused by tough restrictions on borrowing. This combined with higher interest rates meant that there was more negative equity and a greater number of repossessions – subsequently causing house prices to fall.

It is therefore hard to predict what exact effect post lockdown will have on the UK property market as we are in very much uncertain territory.

Whether the current market fall will be 13% or 4% due to the unprecedented times we are currently facing; the result of lockdown will more than likely have a profound effect on both our economy and the UK property market.

It should be mentioned, however, this could be good news for first time buyers and property investors as the post lockdown market is being described as a ‘buyer’s market’. Due to the uncertainty and lack of finances, sellers will be more than willing for a quick sale allowing first time buyers and investors the opportunity to take advantage of reduced sale prices.

At the moment the Bank of England base rate is the lowest it has ever been at 0.1%, so as long as lenders continue lending with low deposits at the current rates, then homeowners are more likely to be able to afford their housing costs and buyers can access money to buy.

If you have any queries regarding a property transaction please get in touch with a member of our Property Department on 01234 350244.

In light of the novel Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, demand for will writing has continuously increased. People are concerned about the future and want to make sure their estate are in order in case anything were to happen to them.

However, due to the government guidelines, particularly the ruling on social distancing, Private Client Solicitors have had to change the way they provide will writing services. The Law Society has declared Solicitors acting in connection with the execution of wills as essential workers, thus alternative arrangements must be made to overcome the limitations existing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For a Will to be valid, it must meet all the requirements listed in section 9 of the wills Act 1837. The act states that no will shall be valid unless: –

  1. it is in writing, it is signed by the Testator (person making the will), or by some other person in his/her presence and by his/her direction; and
  2. that the Testator intended to give effect to the will and
  3. the signature is made or acknowledged by the Testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time; and
  4. each witness either –
    1. (i) attests and signs the will; or
    2. (ii) acknowledges his/her signature, in the presence of the Testator.

These requirements mean that for a will to be valid, all three people involved (The Testator and witnesses) must be in the same room at the same time to witness each signature. However, as a result of social distancing and self-isolation guidelines, it is not practical or safe for Solicitors and clients to witness wills as they usually would.

Overcoming social distancing for will writing

In order to overcome such obstacles and ensure compliance with the formalities of the Wills Act, Private Client Solicitors have adopted certain measures. These measures include:

  • Passing the will through a letterbox for the Testator to sign in front of the window with the witnesses watching from outside and vice versa.
  • Reading the contents of the will to the Testator through the window, and then the Solicitor signing the will on the Testator’s behalf; the witnesses then sign the will with the Testator watching through the window.

Notwithstanding the Coronavirus outbreak and policies on social distancing, there are other means which can be used to ensure that a will is validly drafted and executed.

Although we, Deo Volente Solicitors, have suspended all face to face appointments until further notice, we have adopted alternative methods of communication such as telephone consultations, emails, letters and video calls.

At Deo Volente Solicitors, we will take instructions on your will by telephone consultation or email. We will also offer a ‘window service’ to ensure that your will is correctly drafted and executed, without compromising on your safety and wellbeing. We will always put the best interests of our clients above everything else.

Please rest assured that despite the Coronavirus outbreak, we are still taking instructions, preparing and executing wills. We also offer urgent same day wills to provide you and your families with certainty and comfort. As probate registries are still open, we are also still able to provide our probate services to clients in need.

In these unprecedented times, our experienced and friendly Private Client team can guide you in ensuring that your loved ones do not have to worry about what to do. If you require any advice or assistance on wills and probate, please call us on 01234 350244 for a free telephone consultation today.

Mental Health Awareness Week, 18th-22nd May 2020

In light of Mental Health Awareness Week, The DV Team has prepared a short video to help promote and raise awareness of Mental Health.

We are so happy to speak loudly and proudly about Mental Health; a topic that is no longer taboo and deserves highlighting.

We hope you can all take away a message from our sentiments expressed. YOUR mind matters, YOU matter!

An Important Update for Temporary Migrants in light of Covid 19

Are you a temporary migrant living in the UK? Have you been furloughed or lost your employment because of the Coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic?

by Shazia Akhtar, Partner, and Head of Immigration

The Home office guidance, issued on 24th April 2020, confirms that individuals who have limited leave to remain in the UK and no recourse to public funds do have support available to them. Access to public funds If you are currently residing in the UK on a Family or Private Life basis, you can make an application to access public funds if any of the following applies:

  • You’re destitute or at risk of destitution
  • Your child’s welfare is at risk due to low income
  • You’re in other exceptional financial circumstances Medical Treatment relating to Coronavirus (COVID 19)
  • Testing and treatment for coronavirus is free of charge even if your result is negative
  • No checks are undertaken to confirm an individual’s immigration status when seeking a test or treatment for coronavirus
  • If you have a medical condition that makes you vulnerable to coronavirus, then you can get help with deliveries of medication and food, etc.

If you are employed or self-employed in the UK You may be able to apply to access:

  • Coronavirus Retention Scheme provided to your employer
  • Statutory sick pay
  • Contributory Employment and Support Allowance, subject to if you have made sufficient national insurance contributions
  • You can apply for a grant through the Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme if you are registered as self-employed If you are studying in the UK
  • If you are unable to attend your place of study due to coronavirus then your Sponsor should not report you in these circumstances
  • You can contact your consulate or embassy for support If you are unable to pay rent or mortgage payments
  • Landlords must give tenants 3 months’ notice of evictions
  • From 27th March 2020, all evictions and possession proceedings have been suspended for 90 days

Mortgage lenders will be able to offer repayment holidays of 3 months In addition to the above, Local Authority Social Services may be able to provide further support if you or a family member have specific care needs.

At Deo Volente Solicitors, we understand that individuals may face financial difficulties arising from these unprecedented times. We are offering telephone consultations to address any queries that you may have. Please do not hesitate to contact us on 01234 350244 and speak to one of our team members within the immigration department.

Have your financial circumstances changed since your last grant of leave?

Have your financial circumstances changed since your last grant of leave? Was your leave granted on the basis of your family or private life?

by Shazia Akhtar, Partner, and Head of Immigration Services

During these unprecedented times, we understand that people are struggling to make ends meet because of illness, self-isolation, school, or work closures. If you are currently in the UK on the basis of your family or private life, we can make an application for a change of conditions of leave. This will allow access to public funds because your circumstances have changed:

You can apply if:

  • your financial circumstances have changed since being given permission to stay in the UK and you are no longer able to provide food or housing for yourself or your family
  • your child is at risk because of your very low income
  • you had financial problems when you first applied but you did not provide evidence of this and you now want to provide this evidence

If your application is successful the conditions of your leave will be changed to allow you to access public funds. There is no Home Office fee for this application.

Eligibility

  • You’re eligible to apply for a change of conditions if:  you have leave to remain under the 10-year partner, parent or private life route
  • you have leave to remain on the basis of other ECHR right
  • You can also be eligible to apply if you have leave to remain under the 5-year partner/parent route.
  • If you’re accepted you would be considered to have moved on to the 10-year route to settlement.

You’ll qualify for an amendment to your conditions of leave only if:

  • you’re destitute
  • there are particularly compelling reasons relating to the welfare of your child on account of your very low income
  • there are exceptional circumstances in your case relating to your financial circumstances

A person is destitute if:

  • they do not have adequate accommodation or any means of obtaining it (whether or not their other essential living needs are met)
  • they have adequate accommodation or the means of obtaining it, but cannot meet their other essential living needs

If you meet the requirements for a change to the conditions of your leave to allow you to apply for public funds you will be told by letter or email.

This may include a request that you give biometric information (fingerprints and photographs). You would need to do this at a Service & Support Centre (SSC). Information on how to do this will be provided in the decision. A new biometric residence permit will be issued.

If you are worried about your financial position and would like to discuss your circumstances please call us on 01234 350244 and we will be happy to assist you.