How Covid-19 changed the world of Conveyancing.
From virtual property viewings to Covid-19 Contract clauses. In her latest blog post for Beyond Conveyancing, Samantha Greenhalgh takes a closer look at how the pandemic has moulded and changed the way things are done in the world of Conveyancing.
Are we two or three years post COVID? If you’re anything like me, time, or more accurately the passage of time, seems to have lost all meaning during the pandemic. Days, weeks, months blurring into one; a complete lack of the ability to recall whether something happened in 2020, or last week. It’s very unsettling and will hopefully pass, not as we get used to a new normal, but as we gratefully return to life as we knew it. The passing of our beloved Queen is a reminder of our own mortality (as if we needed another one), but also the necessity to treasure every moment and ensure we don’t just live but enjoy ourselves along the way.
COVID has impacted the conveyancing industry, no question. The days of viewing a property several times before finally deciding to make an offer are at least suspended if not gone completely, with properties coming on to the market only to be sold minutes later. If you’re looking to move, make sure you’re buying with your head and not (just) your heart; act in haste, repent at leisure is not a saying for nothing. Purchase of a home is the most important investment you’re likely to make, so make it a good one and do not disregard the professional advice being given by your Solicitor. It’s OK to love a property but buy it with your eyes open and talk to your Solicitor.
I’m very happy that COVID contract clauses now seem to be a thing of the past, but the risks associated with a positive result in the chain are ever present and frustration of contracts / the inability to complete on a pre agreed day may occasionally rear its head. Not so much of a concern now most of us are triple vaccinated, but it’s always sensible to air a house upon moving and thoroughly disinfect surfaces, even if they look clean, before unpacking and enjoying your new house. Open windows and the need for fresh air and space has been highlighted over the course of the pandemic. It will be some time before ‘hands -face – space -open a window’ receives the heart warming, patriotic response now given to ‘keep calm and carry on’ but it may get there. Personally, I can’t see it emblazoned on mugs and shopping bags in seventy years’ time but then, I’m sure my Grandma didn’t either.
Reconsideration of personal priorities and the change in working practices has prompted a re-evaluation of how people want their house to work for them, i.e., enough space to work from home but also to escape mentally and physically. Houses need to work harder now than ever before being home, office and entertainment all in one. Factor in the lockdown puppy and that is a reasonably modest space working over-time. Think about what you’ve needed most over the past two years and what you’ve missed – does your chosen property have an answer to those points?
Conveyancing used to be a very seasonal area of the legal profession, with noticeable humps in, or just before the school holidays, the run up to Easter and Christmas, to say nothing of looming Stamp Duty deadlines… The down times, including January and February as people recovered from Christmas excesses, just haven’t existed since March 2020; it has been relentless and lawyers working in conveyancing over this period deserve their own round of applause. Anyone joining the ‘need for more space – race’, is totally justified. I was fortunate enough to have a garden to escape to during lock down. Those denied that green refuge have my full support in finding a little corner of England to call their own.
By Samantha Greenhalgh