The biggest gripe of many people selling their house or flat is how slow, cumbersome and stressful the whole process can be.
Strange as it may seem, this is often not the fault of anybody in particular – it is usually the outcome of a combination of circumstances and events.
The process of selling a home is complex and time consuming in nature; it involves many moving parts.
However, as a conveyancer and property lawyer I can tell you that there are many ways in which you as a seller can expedite the process – often by several weeks.
The key word is “preparation”.
Here are the main things you can do as a seller to ensure that the sale process – from placing the property with an estate agent to handing over the keys to the buyer – is as smooth, fast and painless as possible…
This blog considers the position when selling a home in England & Wales.
1. Prepare to instruct the selling agent
Ensure that your property is physically ready and looking its best, ready for viewings as soon as you appoint an estate agent.
Your agent will need to identify you for money laundering purposes and will normally need to see your passport, driving licence and a utility bill or bank statement. Have the originals of these documents ready to show your agent immediately upon request.
If you are selling a flat, the agent may want to see a copy of the lease and will want to know things like the remaining term of the lease, the annual ground rent and the service charges.
Get all this information together ready to give to the agent upon request.
2. Request the management pack
This step applies if you are selling a flat. The buyer’s solicitor will have a number of standard questions about the lease, ground rent, management, insurance and service charges relating to the flat and building/block of which it is a part. These enquiries need to be dealt with by the freeholder or managing agent and are often referred to as the “management pack”
From experience, this is often the biggest cause of delay on a sale and can add weeks to the transaction. If the managing agent is a local authority they may stipulate several weeks before they can provide the management pack.
You can expedite the process by asking for the management pack at the outset, paying the fee and chasing for a prompt response.
This action will probably impress your conveyancer and you may even be able to negotiate a small reduction in their fee as this is work they would normally do on your behalf.
PROCEDURE WHEN SELLING
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3. Obtain a redemption statement
If there is a mortgage on your home, your conveyancer will obtain a redemption statement showing the mortgage debt outstanding prior to completion of your sale.
However, it is highly desirable for you to obtain a redemption statement at the outset so that you know exactly how much you owe to the mortgage company and are in a position to work out your finances accurately without errors or delays at a later date.
Delay in obtaining a redemption statement is a another major cause of hold up with sales.
4. Choose the right selling agent
Make enquiries, carry out due diligence and seek recommendations in order to find an agent ideal to sell your particular type of property in its specific location; that way you are likely to find a buyer faster.
Ask the agent how long they think the entire transaction will last and whether they envisage any difficulties or delays.
5. Choose a buyer able to move fast
An extremely important part of completing a sale fast is finding a buyer able to move fast.
Ideally you should be looking to agree a sale to a buyer
- Not needing a mortgage
- Not restricted by “a chain” – that’s to say not restricted by related sale/purchase transactions
- Wanting to move in quickly.
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6. Prepare to instruct your conveyancer
A conveyancer is the lawyer who will deal with the legal documentation on your sale. They will need to respond to many “pre contract enquiries” from the buyer’s conveyancer and will provide you with several forms to complete, enabling them to deal with those enquiries.
These enquiries will of course relate to the property, its facilities, history and services and you should dig out as much of such information as possible before even contacting the conveyancer.
The sort of documents you will be asked about or will need include:
- Planning permissions
- Building regulations approvals
- Works completion certificates
- Gas safety certificates
- Electrical certificates
- Details of providers of gas, electricity and water
- Insurance or indemnity policies
- Energy performance certificate.
If you are selling a flat, your conveyancer may also need:
- Copy of the lease
- Last ground rent receipt
- Last service charge invoice and receipt
- Full details of the freeholder and managing agent
- Details of major works planned by the freeholder or managing agent including “Section 20 Notices”
- Building insurance details if you and the other leaseholders are responsible for insuring the building.
When your conveyancer sends you the forms to complete, you will have much of the information/documents needed and should be able to accurately complete them quickly.
Your conveyancer will also need to identify and consider you in line with their money laundering duties and you should have ready the identification documents showed to your estate agent. Some conveyancers will carry out money laundering checks online.
7. Respond promptly to requests from your conveyancer
Another big cause for delays is slowness by sellers in responding to additional questions raised by the buyer’s conveyancer.
If you are asked to provide a document and you take two weeks to do so, your action or more correctly inaction could potentially extend the sale process by two weeks.
8. Make sure that you are available when required
Your sale is going to take longer if you are not available when required by your estate agent or conveyancer.
If you are not able to accommodate viewings because of other commitments, you run the risk of lengthening the time it takes to find a buyer.
If you delay in providing information of documents to your conveyancer, that will also lengthen the process.
Going away during the sale process is particularly disruptive and should be avoided if at all possible.
9. Ensure your purchase does not delay things
If you are buying a property as well as selling one, you need to ensure that your purchase does not cause any delays.
As well as carrying out the same or similar steps to the ones mentioned earlier, you should make sure that your mortgage arrangements for buying are fully complete and in order since mortgage delays and issues are one of the biggest causes for purchase delays.
The above steps will minimise the risk of your sale being delayed; but remember that some sale transactions are so complex delays are inevitable.
“Chains” are a major cause of delays. If you are simply selling and your buyer is simply buying, the transaction is simple and there are few moving parts to go wrong.
However, if you are buying as well as selling, your buyer is selling as well as buying and there are other chains down the line, it is easy to understand why some sales take forever and typically one in four transactions will fail.
If you want to give your sale the best chance of proceeding fast and not failing, not only should you follow the steps mentioned above, you should try to avoid being in a chain or at least a long or complex chain.
Have you sold a property? How did it go – slow or fast – and what were the reasons? Please leave your comments below.
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Rebel Property Coach
My website is: www.rebelpropertycoach.com