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Essential tips for closing on a home during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted business operations in almost every industry, and the real estate sector hasn't been spared. Both buyers and sellers have had to significantly adjust their plans in light of limited movement, people losing their jobs, and the sudden shutdown of regular economic operations.

If you were on the verge of closing on a home just before the pandemic struck, you might be wondering how to proceed. The closing process varies between buyers and sellers. This article will provide tips for how sellers can ensure that they close on a property in accordance with the sales contract.

Make sure to honour your sales contract

Closing is the final (and perhaps most involving) step when selling a home. This is the stage where sales contracts are finalised and ownership is officially transferred from the seller to the buyer. Once you've signed the sale contract, you're legally obligated to honour its provisions. This means that failing to uphold your end of the bargain could result in a breach of contract and potential lawsuits from aggrieved parties.

As a seller, you may have a legitimate reason for either delaying the closing process or failing to honour certain provisions. For example, what happens if a member of your family has to self-isolate in the home and you can't move out in time for closing? Or what if you were unable to finalise some specific repairs because of social-distancing requirements? Even if your reasons for failing to honour the sales contract are legitimate, you shouldn't just assume that the buyer and other parties are aware. Make sure you communicate with all parties to the contract in advance so that any relevant accommodations can be made.

Communicate any changes to the buyer in advance

Speaking of communication, you should always keep the buyer informed of any changes to the closing timeline. While there are many other parties to the sales contract (such as real estate agents, conveyancers, mortgage brokers, and financial institutions), they all represent either the buyer's or the seller's interests. This is why prioritising the concerns of the buyer is critical. In case you're unable to honour the closing timelines included in the sales contract, you should negotiate with the buyer to schedule a post-dated closing date. This agreement is also called a long-stop completion, where both parties decide to push the closing date forward because of current circumstances.

Allow additional time for communicating with conveyancers

Finally, don't forget to inform your conveyancer about what may cause you to delay the closing process. Give ample time for responses to emails and phone calls because the pandemic has affected people in almost every profession. Your conveyancer may have unique solutions that minimise delays or absorb you from breach-of-contract accusations.

To learn more, contact a conveyancer.