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‘We’re in limbo’ - Home buyers speak about uncertainty amid coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 18:09 23 March 2020 | UPDATED: 21:51 30 March 2020

First-time buyer Tom Hassey said he was in 'limbo' and unsure whether to proceed with a move to Attleborough. Picture: Tom Hassey

First-time buyer Tom Hassey said he was in 'limbo' and unsure whether to proceed with a move to Attleborough. Picture: Tom Hassey

Archant

Soon-to-be homebuyers across Norfolk are facing uncertainty amid coronavirus as a solicitor confirms it is ‘uncharted territory.’ Ruth Lawes speak to those moving about their next steps.

Home buying, for some, is being delayed due to coronavirus. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Mikhail SpaskovHome buying, for some, is being delayed due to coronavirus. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Mikhail Spaskov

For Alison Wilton-Lowe, a team leader at Alan Boswell Insurance, a move from one home in Wymondham to another closer to her daughter’s school, Robert Kett Primary School, has been years in the making.

The 42-year-old lost her father to a brain haemorrhage two years ago when they began looking at new homes.

Some Norfolk home buyers are concerned the value of their new homes could plummet during coronavirus. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/monkeybusinessimagesSome Norfolk home buyers are concerned the value of their new homes could plummet during coronavirus. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/monkeybusinessimages

Her husband then spent 15 months working in Saudi Arabia and was made redundant.

Mrs Wilton-Lowe said: “I want to make it clear that we are all okay and we’re lucky enough to have jobs. At the moment we’re in good health and our daughter is fine which is all we can ask for, but we have overcome a lot the past couple of years and a new home was the final hurdle.

A Norwich solicitor has called the property market amid coronavirus 'uncharted territory'. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/KerkezA Norwich solicitor has called the property market amid coronavirus 'uncharted territory'. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Kerkez

“This was going to be our fresh start.”

She said it was unclear if the completion date will be delayed - leaving the family with unanswered questions.

Mrs Wilton-Lowe added: “We are able to stay where we are, albeit with a lot of boxes and at the moment we just don’t know. It does feel selfish moaning about it particularly after speaking to a friend who has just moved her job. We are really gutted.”

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‘What if the property market crashes?’

First-time buyer Tom Hassey, who works in sales at Longwater Gravel, is currently living with his parents in Hingham but is due to move into a home in Attleborough in April or May.

The 23-year-old said: “As it is my first home I had really psyched myself up for moving out. It’s a huge step and I have my furniture ready to go. I’m so close yet so far. It’s a spanner in the works.”

Now he says he is in limbo and is unsure whether to go ahead with the move or not.

His biggest concern is whether the value of the new home will plummet amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Hassey said: “I’m wondering if the house will be worth what I paid for it in February. If you look at the markets they are not doing well and if it crashes then I am in a very difficult position.”

‘We’re desperate to move but also desperate to protect our safety’

Friends Teri and Jenny, who did not want to give their surnames, are currently living in Mundesley and are due to move to Norwich next month.

But Teri, who has asthma and is self-isolating, has fears over the impact a move could have on her health.

She said: “We are desperate to move but also desperate to look after our safety as I am in a high risk group for coronavirus. I don’t know what to do right now as I can’t travel to the solicitors to sign the contract, which needs to witnessed. I fear the whole thing will fall through. It’s just so overwhelming.”

The house they have purchased also needs considerable work done to it, which they said raised further concerns.

Jenny said: “It needs plastering and painting and gas it is not liveable but who knows whether we will be able to employ people to do the work if they are in lockdown. It has just compounded the anxiety we are feeling.”

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‘The process has died a bit of a death’

Nicky Casey, operations manager at Loveday and Partners, is part of a chain of five and is due to move from Hingham to Blofield to reduce her commute.

The move was scheduled for next weekend but Ms Casey said the process had died a bit of a death.

She added: “I don’t know what is going on and I don’t know what will happen in the event of a total lock down and if I’ll be able to move. It has all been finalised, but everything is up in the air at the moment.”

“I’m just being realistic at the moment and I am lucky that this is not an urgent move and I can stay where I am at the moment.”

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Rosemary Farman, head of conveyancing at Clapham and Collinge Solicitors, said home buying during the pandemic was ‘uncharted territory’.

She added: “When it comes to home-buying there is no set of normal circumstances as we work for the clients best interest. However, we have had a whole waft of reaction during the Covid-19 outbreak from clients who do not want to complete to those so concerned by a lock down the process has just stopped.

“There is also the added issue of whether employing removal men is a possibility and if banks will continue operating. There has been new guidance and lenders have made provisions so the system is gearing itself up to dealing with it.

“The current law does not factor in a pandemic. At the moment we can’t give definite answers and can only relay the standard conditions. However, we hope to work with all parties in a chain to find a solution.”


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