Preparing to Sell your Property?

Before placing your property on the market, there is some essential groundwork you can do to smooth the conveyancing process, as Residential Partner Giles Wreford-Brown explains

Preparing to Sell your Property?

When selling a house, what is generally at the forefront of most people’s thoughts? How much is it worth? How long will it take? How much will it cost? You can be fairly certain most sellers will have considered the above when contemplating selling their property.

Most sellers will have had one or more Estate Agent to carry out a Market Appraisal and will have had advice on pricing strategy and market conditions. They’ll know all about the importance of quality photography, floorplans, video/virtual tours (now common place in the Covid-19 world), Internet portals and how to prepare the house for a viewing.

So, with the Agent appointed you can leave it to them to get on with and the sale will follow?  You may strike lucky, receive an acceptable offer at an early stage, be happy with the price achieved and start looking forward to the next stage of your life. The Agent asks for your solicitor’s details to issue the memorandum of sale, and it’s all plain sailing towards exchange and completion, right?  

This is a crucial time in the transaction, and where the ground-work you’ve already carried out comes into play. If, as a seller you do not have a solicitor appointed then it could be a couple of weeks before you have been able to contact a number of them, obtain written quotes, appointed one, signed and returned their terms and completed anti-money laundering checks. This is before you’ve completed the Property Information and Fixtures and Fittings forms. Any ground gained during the negotiations can be lost at this point as seller and Agent will be on the back foot and unable to keep the pressure on the buyer and their solicitor. Also, the buyer may be extremely keen to proceed quickly and this sort of unnecessary delay can cause frustration.

As a seller it is important to find necessary forms and documents. The buyer’s solicitor will ask for all paperwork to be completed, and doing this early can keep the transaction moving. The Property Information Form will be detailed and the list below will give an indication of things to consider:

  • Is the Property Freehold or Leasehold? If Leasehold, are there any obligations on the leaseholder, is there a management company, what are the service charges and ground rents, are there any payments to third parties and if so, how much, what is included and how often are payments due?
  • If Freehold or Leasehold do you have a HM Land Registry Title Plan? If so, this will show a red line around the boundary, clarify ownership and provide a title number.
  • Are there any restrictive covenants, and if so what do they prevent? Some are historic but still in place and it is important a buyer is aware of these as they may prevent them altering the house for example, planting trees, erecting sheds or buildings or selling off some of the land. Covenants that come to light late in the day invariably cause problems, renegotiation and in the worst case cause a sale to fall through. 
  • Are there any rights of way over the property? Does the property have the benefit of a right of way over another?
  • Are there any shared facilities such as septic tanks or drainage systems. If so, are the necessary rights or easements in place?
  • If there is a septic tank does it comply with the current Environment Agency 2020 legislation?
  • Is there a shared drive, and if so what are the maintenance obligations on each user?
  • Has the boiler been serviced and certificate provided (if gas by a Corgi-registered engineer prior to 2009)?
  • Have you upgraded or altered the electrics? If so, is there an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) or a NAPIT or NICEIC certificate/report from a registered electrical competent person?
  • Have any windows been changed? If so a FENSA or CERTAS certificate will be required.
  • Has any structural work been carried out? If so, have you obtained the necessary planning permission, listed building consent and building regulation approval? Many sellers have done this but have not obtained the completion certificate or final sign-off.
  • Is the house in a Conservation Area? If so, has any work carried out been done so in accordance with the local Conservation Officer and approval been provided?       
  • Are there any specialist guarantees / warranties? Typically for work carried out relating to subsidence, damp, timber treatment, wet/dry rot.
  • Is there a party wall?
  • Have any insurance claims been made as a result of flooding / water damage?
  • Are there any indemnity policies against title defects?

This list is far from exhaustive, but in each instance where answers cannot be obtained or relevant paperwork provided then it will cause unnecessary delay and, in some cases the withholding of a mortgage offer. It is therefore important when appointing an Agent that the Agent is experienced and has an understanding of the common issues arising during the conveyance.  Many are more prevalent in older, rural properties but not always.

Symonds & Sampson’s Agents have the understanding and experience to help clients put the preparatory work in place with their solicitor before marketing. If a client does not have a solicitor, we can recommend one experienced in dealing with any particular issues that are often seen with your property. Contact your local office now to discuss your next property move, or arrange your free, no obligation virtual market appraisal.

Giles Wreford-Brown 01258 473766

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