There are understandably many questions around the property market on people’s minds right now. We put some of the key questions around the property market, buying or selling a home and what to do if you’re renting to Managing Director, Alex Mackay, Head of Property Management, Jordan Mackay, and Rob Starr of Seico Insurance and Mortgages Ltd.
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How has the residential property market been impacted?
Alex: It’s frustrating for many, as there is still a good appetite from both buyers and sellers, however tempered by Covid-19. We are lining up new properties to launch and still have buyers eager to view properties. We have found our new virtual property tours to have been an invaluable addition to our marketing, with many applicants requesting virtual viewings. Our teams are still working hard from home to accommodate our clients’ needs, including some new initiatives to provide instant or video valuations, and help move things along as much as possible.
Homeowners, buying and selling
How can I get a valuation on my home?
Alex: The easiest way to get an accurate valuation now is to visit our website and request a virtual valuation or call any one of our offices and one of our experienced valuers will guide you through the process.
I’m selling my house. Can I still hold viewings?
Alex: Following current government guidelines, in-person viewings are not going ahead at this moment in time. However, what we have found very popular is the 1-1 video viewing. Please contact us should you like to book in such an appointment.
Can I still get a mortgage?
Rob: Mortgages are definitely still available, with some incredibly low rates even on five-year fixed terms, which might be a sensible option right now.
The only issue we are seeing is the Loan to Values (LTVs) changing daily. Recently we saw most lenders reduce their LTV down to only 60%, although we have seen this rise back to 80% with some major lenders.
The other issue is mortgage valuations cannot be carried out face to face, so these will be remote valuations and can affect the value you expect to see. Remember though, that you can challenge values if you feel that it has come in low; you have the ability to challenge and potentially increase it.
Is my mortgage in principle still valid?
Rob: Absolutely, no change there. Additionally, it can likely be extended for a further period if you need it to be.
I’m in the process of buying a house but haven’t exchanged. What happens now?
Alex: If you have had your survey and have your mortgage offer in place, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t exchange. The advice currently being given is twofold – one, that you exchange and complete simultaneously or two, that you agree a flexible completion date.
I’ve exchanged, will completion still go ahead on time?
Alex: Almost certainly. The only reason for a delay now is the intervention of somebody in your chain, if they for any reason are now not able to move on the agreed date. However, it’s important to remember that we all need to be as flexible as possible in this difficult time.
What happens if I can’t pay my mortgage?
Rob: Certainly do not ignore it if you find yourself in this situation. Currently, most lenders are allowing a three-month repayment holiday, which means you do not pay anything for three months and this period is instead added to the end of your mortgage term.
Also, if you have a full capital and interest mortgage, then you can ask your lender to change it to interest only. This will need to be made up within the mortgage payments later, but it could reduce your current payments, in some cases by over two thirds, and can be carried out for a year or more if needed.
If you are looking to switch your mortgage rate, you should speak to your broker before requesting a mortgage holiday, as the timing of these two events is crucial to enable them to happen.
Ultimately, as long as you do not ignore the situation and you engage with your lender as soon as you can, this won’t affect your credit rating once the country returns to normal.
Can I move my mortgage at the moment?
Rob: Absolutely, as long as the numbers still work. Re-mortgages are subject to a valuation, however, but there are a number of lenders who will do a remote valuation for you. You could also stay with the same lender and just do a rate-switch. If in doubt, your broker can tell you very quickly the best deals currently available.
What happens if I can’t pay my rent?
Jordan: If you find yourself unable to pay your rent as a result of the current climate, please notify us as soon as you are aware. We ask that you pay what you can as and when you can and can agree a repayment plan with you and the landlord moving forward.
We would suggest paying the maximum you can to ensure the payment plan doesn’t become unaffordable.
My tenancy is due to end this month, what happens now?
Jordan: We have put processes in place where tenants can still move out, if they are able to do so, whilst having zero contact with us or the checkout clerks.
If you are in a position where you are not able to commit to the tenancy end date, we ask that you advise us as soon as you know, so we can agree a plan moving forward that suits all parties.
Can my landlord still terminate my tenancy?
Jordan: Emergency legislation has been brought in to protect tenants from eviction during these times. This legislation means landlords now have to serve three months’ notice to terminate a tenancy, instead of two.
I’m due to move into another rented property, is that still possible?
Alex: Yes, it is. We have set up a safe, zero-contact way of finalising the transaction with regards to handing over keys etc.