New Year Sales
Following hard on the heels of Christmas, Jason Ham, Partner at Gawor & Co Solicitors gives you ten helpful tips to assist if you decide to put your property up for sale in the New Year.
1. Finding a Buyer. Once you have found a buyer, try and stay in contact with them directly. You may wish to swap telephone numbers or exchange email addresses. No matter how good the intentions are of your Estate Agents, and indeed your Solicitor, you may feel that you do not have any control of your own sale. Your Solicitor cannot speak directly to your Buyer but only communicate via their solicitor or your own estate agent and therefore a simple direct call to your buyer, can clear away any confusion and deal with non legal matters swiftly.
2. Is your property leasehold? – If so, where is your lease? Now that deeds have “dematerialised”, the Bank that you have a mortgage with may not retain your deeds, which means that either your deeds were sent directly to you following your purchase or the solicitors that acted for you when you bought your home should have them. In addition if your property is leasehold, you may also need to locate documents such as a share certificate in the freehold or management company, NHBC insurance papers, and any guarantees or warranties that may have been transferred to you when you originally bought. Your Seller will need all of these documents as well a “sales pack” or “management pack” from the managing agents for which the agents will charge you a fee.
3. Have you carried out any alterations to your flat? This could be anything from moving an internal door or non-structural wall, converting additional loft storage space to installing wooden floors. Anything like this may very well need the freeholders or the management company’s consent and possibly planning permission and/or building regulations approval from the local council, especially if the property is listed. If you haven’t got your consent already or are unsure as to whether or not it is required, it is best to advise your Solicitors at the outset. That way, they can advise upon the appropriate steps to regularise the position rather than wait for the purchasers solicitor to pick this up from his/her client’s survey and examination of the title documents at which point the transaction is likely to be advanced, and any retrospective consent is likely to take time, add costs and delay your sale.
4. Mortgages – Apply for an up to date redemption statement from your mortgage company and familiarise yourself with any early repayment penalties and their expiry dates. Your solicitor will of course obtain one of these for you just before you exchange on your sale, but mortgage redemption departments are not renown for their efficacy and if you request one at the outset this can be passed to your solicitor who will have your full account details to contact them to ensure they can act on the bank’s behalf in the sale, and request any deeds that they may still have.
5. Fixtures – Take care when completing your fixtures and contents form. Most arguments that arise during and after a sale are not technical or legal but revolve around what people have or haven’t left behind. Ensure both you and your buyer have agreed this form well before exchange of contracts.
6. Installations – Have you had new windows, central heating or electrics installed recently? If so, new(ish) legislation dictates that you should have certificates for all of these, which will be transferred to the new owner. Again, to save any unnecessary delays, you should ensure that the originals of all of these certificates and other such documentation that relates to modernising your house or flat is passed to your solicitors at the outset.
7. Instructions – Be careful who you use to do your conveyancing. The term “lawyer” is a generic term, which can cover not only solicitors, but also licensed conveyancers and non-qualified paralegals. If you feel more comfortable knowing that a Solicitor will be dealing with your sale, double check that firm’s website carefully before going ahead with the instruction and make sure that the firm is registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority and carries the Conveyancing Quality Scheme Kitemark.
8. Fees. When comparing quotes from law firms, look for the hidden costs. Some firms may quote substantially lower than others at the outset in order to secure you as a Client. However, further costs are then added on during the transaction as a matter of course, for dealing with standard unavoidable pre-contract steps to include for example, writing to your management company for service charge information to actually seeing you in their office for a meeting. If you obtain a low quote at the outset there is usually a reason for it. Also consider the location of the practice. Is the firm located near the property that you are selling? If so, the Solicitor may be familiar with the particulars of the development, have good relations with the agents and any third parties that will need to be contacted during the transaction, all of which will help to expedite your sale.
9. Completion. The day of completion itself can be stressful enough as it is. Therefore, you should make sure that you are totally packed and ready to leave, at least the day before your sale completes. Contractually, you will usually be obliged to hand over keys by midday. This may sound obvious but if I had a pound for every completion held up due to last minute packing problems with bored removal men sitting outside watching their charges go up by the hour I would be a wealthy man.
10. Please be nice to your Solicitor. It might not seem like it at times, but we love our Clients really.
Happy New Year