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Government urges scale-back of housing market during outbreak

Buyers and renters should delay moving while emergency stay-at-home measures are in place, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has announced.

There is no need to pull out of transactions, but it is vital the health of individuals and the public is prioritised, the government said. As part of this, the department has agreed with banks that mortgage offers should be extended where delay to completions takes place.


Some lenders, including Virgin Money, are suspending mortgage applications during the crisis.


"We will continue to use desktop and automated valuations on re-mortgage applications where possible, and focus on helping existing customers who are in need of immediate support,” Virgin Money told Credit Strategy.


Where the property being moved into is vacant, transactions will be allowed to complete.


Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance, said that lenders recognise that many people looking to move into their new home are facing “significant stress and uncertainty” due to the impacts of coronavirus.


He said: “It is clearly not appropriate for people shielding or self-isolating to move home. Therefore, where chains contain people in these groups, lenders, conveyancers and other professionals are working together to enable these customers’ moves to be delayed.


“Where people have already exchanged contracts for house purchases and set dates for completion this is likely to be particularly stressful. To support these customers at this time, all mortgage lenders are working to find ways to enable customers who have exchanged contracts to extend their mortgage offer for up to three months to enable them to move at a later date.


“If a customer’s circumstances change during this three month period or the terms of the house purchase change significantly and continuing with the mortgage would cause house buyers to face financial hardship, lenders will work with customers to help them manage their finances as a matter of urgency.”

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