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COVID: What does Level 4 mean for us?

By Heather Paton van der Walt

The health and wellbeing of our members and our customers is of paramount importance to our company, and our thoughts are with all our communities throughout New Zealand and especially those that may have been directly affected by COVID-19.

As a non-essential business, our physical premises have closed and our team members are now working from home to look after not only their current activities but also ensure that we maintain the highest level of service to to our landlords, tenants, customers and clients.

Our staff will remain active and on-call – available by phone and email. Whilst some patience will be required by all of us as we adjust to a slightly new way of working, we will still be able to work with you on your sale, settlements and manage purchaser enquiry as it comes in. Whilst we don’t have a crystal ball, rest assured our management team are monitoring things daily and our team is meeting digitally to discuss what is happening in our market. Ray White is also in regular contact with the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand and any new developments are being communicated daily. We look forward to continuing to provide our customers with great service and excellent outcomes in the weeks and months ahead.

Please scroll down for some answers to frequently asked questions. We will endeavour to keep this page up-to-date with information as it comes to hand.

We assure you of our commitment during this difficult period and we are here and available for you. Thank you on behalf of the company for your continued engagement and support.

Take care of yourselves, and each other.

Frequently asked questions

Can I receive an appraisal?

Online appraisals can be completed and emailed to potential sellers. You will note that these virtual appraisals will clearly state that they were conducted online and without the ability to physically inspect the property due to COVID-19 Level 4 restrictions – and we will endeavor to update these after a physical inspection of the property as soon as the isolation restrictions are lifted.

Can I list my property now
We have the technology and support staff in place to be able to list your property during this Alert Level 4 Period. All agency agreements, AML and marketing can be signed digitally and your listing Salesperson can talk you through the process and advise the best way moving forward.

Marketing your during Level 4

At this stage there are no buyer appointments or open homes but these can commence again at the lower Alert Levels. We have great online platforms to capture the audience while we have such a strong online audience.

Can we prepare and submit offers on properties?

Yes – sale and purchase agreements will continue to be available during this time and your agent will be able to provide for digital signature in the event you do not have a scanner or printer at home.

Most of the lawyers are still available by email for legal advice

Can real estate settlements still take place?

Your Sale and Purchase agreement has a clause that allows for a delayed settlement if need be. Your salesperson will be in touch with the Seller, Buyer and Lawyer for confirmation.

As conveyancing is completed online settlements may take place, however pre-settlement inspections and moving are not physically able to occur and therefore settlement and possession may need to be renegotiated, or deferred until the Level 4 Isolation Period ends. (The main problem being that homes are generally sold with vacant possession – which is not currently possible as moving house is not deemed ‘essential travel’ during this Level 4 period.)

There may be situations where parties may want to settle where the property is vacant or a tenanted property (with the intention that the tenancy continues). In these instances if parties agree, settlement may still be able to happen on the basis that searches etc. and registration can still happen through online services.

Rural sales and tenanted property sales

There will be situations where sales may not involve people leaving their home or any in-person contact (e.g. where a property is tenanted and the tenancy will continue after settlement) and have advised that whilst settlement can occur where no one has to have contact, purchasers and vendors may encounter difficulties when trying to get Authority & Instruction forms, mortgage instruction forms, and other legal forms issued and signed. So, deferring settlement may still be the safest option. We would strongly recommend that the parties seek and follow the advice of their solicitors and not assume settlement can or will be able to occur. Physical property inspections cannot occur when we are under Level 4 lockdown.

Conditional contracts and LIMs

Conditional contracts can still be confirmed during this time; however should a condition not be able to be met due to the restrictions under the Alert Level 4 period (examples would be the inability to conduct a property inspection and building inspections), then the buyer and seller would need to advise their legal representatives and either extend the condition until after the lockdown, or cancel the contract. The party’s lawyers will make appropriate amendments to the contract to facilitate this.

We have however been advised by Whangarei District Council that LIM processing is not able to be completed as some file records are still in paper and will not be able to be accessed during this period. (If purchasing, we would still suggest filing a request for a LIM so when these are able to be processed you will already be in the queue).

Organising finance

Vendors and purchasers should talk to their bank or financial services provider in the first instance, most are mobilised and able to transact business.

Pre-settlement inspections

These are unable to take place in person during lockdown, however, if both parties agree, these could take place using video conferencing.

Anti-Money Laundering (AML)

AML can be completed online via your Salesperson.

Moving in to your new home

With moving house not defined as ‘necessary travel’ during Stage 4 lockdowns, we suggest deferring settlement dates with your solicitor. All of our contracts have an existing clause in your contract to facilitate this.

Your best point of contact

Your best point of contact will remain your listing Salesperson.  We’ll continue to let your Agent communicate directly to you on any updates specific to your current situation and by your desired communication preferences so please reach out to them if you have any queries or concerns – however small you feel they may be.

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