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!

We are here to help you! – Covid 19 Update

The health and safety of our staff, clients and fellow businesses is our given priority in any period. Due to current Covid-19 pandemic, we want to inform you that unfortunately, we will not be hosting face-to-face meeting for the foreseeable future. 

Fortunately, as a firm, we have adapted to the current circumstances to make sure that we are still open and available to you. Whether you are a current client, a new client or someone who would like some helpful advice from a trusted Solicitor regarding your situation and Covid 19; we have the following systems and procedures in place: 

  • We have the facilities in place to host an appointment via telephone or video call. Our lines our open as normal between office hours so please do not hesitate to call us on 01234 350244. 
  • Rather than post, you can send us any documents electronically. If you already have a solicitor, then you can send it to them via their email. If not, you can send any documents to our secure inbox info@dvsolicitors.com, which is being monitored round the clock. 
  • 
Worried about making payment? You can call us on 01234 350244 and speak to a member of our team to make payment securely over the phone. 
  • We are here for you! We have recently set up our Twitter: https://twitter.com/AskDeoVolente, which is available for anyone to use if they would like some bitesize advice regarding Covid 19. We understand there are a lot of questions that people have at the current time and we’re here to help answer those questions. Ask us anything and know you will be getting advice from a trusted solicitor! #AskDV 

Whilst the future may be somewhat uncertain, we can assure you that you can find certainty in DV Solicitors. We will continue to follow Government advice and closely monitor the situation, alas also maintain to put measures in place to ensure that we can deliver excellent customer service and help any persons where we can.  

We look forward to speaking to you on the phone, on Skype or on Twitter!  

Do contact us on 01234 350244

Rosie Crownshaw

Potential Impacts on Law Firms during COVID-19.

 
Potential Impacts on Law Firms during COVID-19.
By Rosie Crownshaw, Trainee Solicitor 
In these unprecedented times every industry is going to feel the impact of Covid 19- but what effect will this outbreak have on the legal sector? And to what extent?
 
Let us begin with the area of Law I currently work in – the fast-paced world of Conveyancing. A house move alone provides its stresses for any client… now we have to factor in the current climate: that stress has been amplified exponentially.  
The government has directed that moving to a new house is not essential and that law firms should advise their clients against the conveyancing of any properties in order to prevent the spread of the viral disease. With the likes of house viewings, witnessing documents, the physical act of moving to a new house: allowing such to continue promotes bad behaviours during the current pandemic: we need to enforce social distancing and not put people at risk unnecessarily.
Many law firms are ‘old school’- they rely on sending crucial documents by fax, needing physical files present and having a constant access to their tangible archives. Unfortunately, working from home doesn’t come with a built-in fax machine! Majority of conveyancing firms are not paperless and still need access to printers, files and scanners and often have multiple people working on the same files. Communication needs to be key. I think many firms will realize that their workforce is the backbone to their business and, furthermore, that their employees are their best investment.
We are hearing further cases of clients- understandably– having instructed their solicitors to put a hold on their matters as a result of the uncertainty due to Covid 19. This has put many people (those clients wanting to continue with matters) in a blip as they may need the sale proceeds to pay for crucial expenses i.e, debt, care home fees of a parent etc.
I believe that, after the dust settles, there will be a lot of houses on the market as people will want a quick sale as a means to have quick access to funds to cover any deficit that they have occurred during the Isolation period of the virus.
 
Self-isolating can be a testing time for anyone- mentally, physically and emotionally. Especially for a married couple. The combination of boredom, a lack of household chores to and cabin fever causates a more probable ground for arguments. I do sincerely hope majority of them will not escalate but-you never know- one misplaced sock could be the straw that broke the camels back and, with limited access to couples counselling, divorce proceedings could be undertaken for some couples. Also, I pose the question: what does it mean for supervised visits with children and a parent? You’d hope said parent would not risk both themselves and their child for their allocated time, so will the courts give them time in lieu?
 
We are witnessing an unfortunate amount of businesses closing and thus putting jobs and livelihoods at risks- on a positive note, PM Boris Johnson pledged to pay 80% of staff wages out of the Government’s pocket after noticing the effects of thus ‘lockdown’. Despite this, some companies are trying to enforce zero-hour contracts upon their employees – can they do this? Has their contract made provisions or included a force majeure clause? The litigation departments of all law firms will see a rise in business as people want clarification on whether companies have the legal right to end their contract, put them on furlough etc. Which poses a further predicament to Litigators, as although there is a spike in business, it is unlikely that they will be able to take instructions if a client is unable to pay fees due to the economic ramifications of this outbreak. (Unless they offer legal aide).
 
In conclusion, my personal opinion is that law firms are likely to see a dip in work as many clients want to see how we as a country deal with the current pandemic before making any drastic, financial commitments i.e, purchasing a house, divorcing a partner. After the “lock down” period ends work will come in very quickly as the populace has held off. This current period will test the character of any firm- big or small- and prove their dedication on providing the best service to their clients through thick and thin. Like the old saying goes tough times don’t last but tough people do! And as an employee of a firm, that is confident we can pull through this together and continue to grow our business, we will come through this stronger than ever.