We have created this special edition newsletter in response to a number of questions we have received over the past week about the ability to buy or sell property during Covid-19 alert levels 3 and 4…

Buying or selling a house during Covid-19 alert levels 3 and 4

During Covid-19 alert levels 3 and 4, there are restrictions that will affect buying and selling of property. It is important to comply with these restrictions to keep you and others safe during this process.   

Alert Level 4

Under alert level 4, there is nothing to prevent you from settling (buying or selling) a property if you have a signed agreement for sale and purchase already in place. However, it is not possible for the vendor to move out of the property and the purchaser to subsequently move in, as only movement for essential services is permitted. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that settlements are delayed until a return to alert level 3 or 2.

You will also not be able to undertake a physical pre-settlement inspection (being the inspection carried out by the purchaser immediately prior to the settlement date). You may be able to undertake a pre-settlement inspection by video, however you should consult with your legal representative about the risks of doing this and the quality of the inspection.

It will also be difficult to arrange signing of mortgage and transfer documents if you do not have access to a printer and/or the ability to electronically sign documentation.

Settlements which can go ahead under level 4 include situations where there is no physical movement of people. This can include buying a holiday home that you do not intend to move into immediately or a tenant buying a house they already live in.  Other possibilities include negotiating for the vendor to stay in the property on a rental basis once the settlement money has been paid by the purchaser and settlement has occurred.

Many agreements for sale and purchase will now have a Covid-19 clause inserted into them, which will state that settlement will be deferred until either alert level 3 or 2. If this is the case, you will need to abide by this requirement and your legal representative will formalise this arrangement.

In the event that you do not have such a clause in your agreement, your legal representative and the other party’s legal representative will need to negotiate the delay of settlement. It is important to be aware that the other party does not need to agree to defer settlement.  Your legal representative will be able to provide you with your options if the other side refuses to defer settlement.

Alert Level 3

You can settle, move, and undertake physical pre-settlement inspections under alert level 3 conditions. However, you will need to follow physical distancing rules and practice good hygiene.

A pre-settlement inspection can only take place if the property is located in the same region as you are.  Only two people (from the same extended bubble) and a real-estate agent can visit the property at one time. Anyone who lives in the property will need to leave for the duration of the inspection.

When conducting pre-settlement inspections, you must obtain the consent of the tenant if it is a rental property. You will need to defer the inspection until level 1 or 2 if you do not have their consent.

You can move to and from regions that are at alert level 2 for the purpose of moving into a property. In this case, you should arrange documentation to support the purpose of your travel as you may pass through police checkpoints.

If you currently have a conditional agreement for sale and purchase in place, please contact your legal representative to ascertain whether or not any negotiations in respect of timeframes need to be undertaken. 

The best option is to include a Covid-19 alert levels clause in any agreement for sale and purchase that you sign to ensure that the parties are clear on what the arrangements will be if alert levels change, and to avoid any undesirable situations or uncertainty.

 

 

 


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Super Gold Card 

If you are a New Zealand Super Gold Card Holder (Australian Senior Cards do not qualify) we will give you a 75% discount off the fee for one of our set fee 1 hour initial consultations. We will also give you a 17.5% discount off the first matter we handle for you and then 12.5% off any subsequent matters for you.  These discounts relate to your personal matters only (i.e. not business, trust or organisational matters or the sale and purchase of investment properties).

To receive the discount please let us know if you are a New Zealand Super Gold Card Holder.