How are we ensuring the highest quality of service for all of our clients in the face of COVID-19?
In these strange and difficult times, we have had to consider how we can fully comply with Government guidance and the need to protect our staff, while also maintaining the highest standards of service for all of our clients.
The firm remains open and keen to help both existing and new clients. Although our offices will not fully open to the public from Friday, 20 March 2020, we are staffed and resourced.
Getting in touch with us – existing and new clients
The best way to get in contact is by email. Existing or new clients should be emailed to email@example.com. If you can’t email, you can still phone our office number 0131 225 6226 where we can take your details and pass them on to the relevant person.
Recent weeks have shown that mail dleivery is very good
In light of the current Government guidance, we can offer face to face meetings with clients by prior arrangement and socially distanced . Consultations can also take place by video conference or over the phone.
Video conferences are very simple to set up. These usually take the form of calls over Skype or Zoom or similar – all you need is a smartphone or computer. We’ll send you contact details when arranging the meeting.
Getting in touch with us – other firms and organisations
Again, the preferred mode of contact is email, ideally directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
It may not be possible to transfer calls and instead, our staff will take details and refer the matter to the appropriate person.
Advice for property buyers and sellers
Can I still attend property viewings?
As a result of government restrictions on daily life, in person property viewings are currently not available.
However, we hope to offer virtual property viewings, allowing you to view a property from your home. We can provide information and insights about the property and area over the phone or by email.
With the ESPC, you can also easily request the Home Report and view property schedules and photos online.
Can I still get my property valued?
Getting your property valued is the first stage of selling your home and generally involves inviting an agent to your home to assess its value. However, due to government restrictions on daily life, in person valuations are currently not available.
We can offer virtual valuations at this time. Doing valuations remotely allows us to review the features and conditions of your home without risking unnecessary contact.
We can provide advice about selling a property over the phone or by e-mail.
The Scottish Government released guidance on 31st March that advised that home moves should in most cases be delayed until after the current social distancing measures have been lifted.
If a move cannot be delayed then the Scottish Government said property sales can be completed as long as the move can be carried out safely with those involved adhering to the necessary social distancing measures.
Read the guidance from the Scottish Government and speak to us to find out about your specific property transaction.
Can offers on properties still be accepted?
Yes offers on properties can still be accepted. It is likely that Solicitors in most cases will delay the conclusion of missives until after the current social distancing measures have been lifted so the buying/selling process may take longer than usual.
Can I still apply for a new mortgage?
You can still apply for a new mortgage, but some lenders have tightened up loan-to-value ratios and require a larger deposit than usual. However, there are lenders who are still accepting lower deposits. It is best to speak to your mortgage adviser to find out what your options are. We can help also with this matter.
Can I still apply for the First Home Fund?
The First Home Fund is currently still accepting applications, though these are taking longer to process. If you already have your application approved, then these funds have been reserved for you and you should not be concerned. At this time there is no reason to believe that the First Home Fund will not continue.
Are there properties on the market?
At present there are still properties on the market which you can browse on the ESPC website or app. If you would like to be kept up to date with new properties coming to market, you can do so by signing up to My ESPC.
Have bankruptcy related property transactions been suspended?
In bankruptcy cases, where the Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) is named as trustee, all division and sale actions relating to occupied properties have been suspended and evictions have been halted until further notice. The AiB has asked other trustees to adopt a similar approach.
Full details on Accountant in Bankruptcy’s COVID-19 changes are on their website.
Who should I contact with any concerns about buying or selling a property?
Kenneth Cameron is the best point of contact for any questions or concerns about buying or selling a property at this time.
Advice for homeowners
I am worried about paying my mortgage due to the current circumstances – what do I do?
If you have encountered financial difficulties due to the Covid 19 situation, you can apply to your lender for a three month mortgage holiday.
Although the term ‘holiday’ has been applied, it is in fact a pause from making your mortgage payments for a period of up to three months. Interest will still be applied on the outstanding debt and the debt will still need to be repaid, so you will end up paying more in the long term. Under the current situation, a mortgage holiday should not affect your credit score.
What does the Bank of England interest rate reduction mean for me?
The latest two cuts in the past few weeks were introduced as an emergency measure to encourage lending and provide stimulus to the economy. Since the announcements, many lenders have passed on the reduction by reducing the interest rates charged on their tracker and variable rate mortgages.
If like many borrowers, you are tied in to a fixed rate product this rate reduction will not affect you as your rate of interest will remain at its fixed level until the end of your current tie in period. If your fixed rate period is due to end within the next few months, you should contact your mortgage adviser to discuss your options which may include switching to a new fixed rate deal.
Advice for tenants and landlords
I have lost or am worried about losing my job – how will I pay my rent?
If you are renting from a private landlord, you should alert your landlord or letting agent that you may be unable to make your rental payments. Landlords have been asked to be flexible with regards to rent payments during this period of uncertainty.
I’m a private landlord and my tenant is no longer able to pay their rent – how will I pay my mortgage?
Landlords are also eligible for the three-month mortgage holiday announced for homeowners if they require it. If your tenant is unable to pay rent during this time, then you should contact your lender to find out more details.