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14 Oct 2020

Residential Property

Selling your house? Instruct us first to speed up your move

With the after-effects of lockdown still fuelling a desire for more space and the holiday from stamp duty in England and Land Transaction Tax in Wales enticing more people to move before the end of next March, the housing market is currently booming.

Latest figures from mortgage lender, Halifax, show that UK mortgage applications are at their highest since 2008 and that house prices are rising at the fastest annual pace since mid-2016. So, with more and more people looking to put their properties on the market, we thought it would be helpful to explain the key steps in selling your home and give you some tips to avoid delays and reduce stress in the moving process.

Step 1 – List your property

You’ve decided you want to sell your home so usually you’ll engage an estate agent and get them started on taking photos and promoting your property on their website and through their marketing channels. They’ll contact you when they receive any offers and it will be up to you to decide whether or not to accept the price that the buyer is offering.

Step 2 – Instruct a conveyancer

Most people wait until after they’ve sold their house before instructing a conveyancer but the whole process could be made much smoother and quicker if the vendor instructs us as soon as the house goes on the market or at least before an offer is accepted. This means that a lot of time consuming tasks such as sourcing property deeds, agreeing terms and conditions, verifying the vendor’s identity and getting all the necessary forms filled in, can be done in advance, so as soon as a sale is agreed, the conveyancing process can start immediately.

Shortly after you instruct us, you’ll receive our company terms of business and a letter asking you to complete some questions about your sale. It is important that you complete and return everything as soon as possible, including ID and monies on the account, as without these, we cannot start work on the file.

Step 3 – Sale agreed and contracts issued immediately (if you have instructed us before accepting your offer)

As soon as a sale is agreed, the estate agent provides us with the details of the sale and we will contact the solicitor acting for your buyers and issue the contracts, normally via email.

If you have already instructed us when listing your property, we can issue contracts immediately, which saves on average 2 to 3 weeks.

The contract will already have been drafted and we will send it to your buyers’ solicitor, together with the Property Information Form and Fittings & Content Form that you will have completed. If you have a mortgage on the property, we’ll request a redemption figure from your existing mortgage company.

During this time, the buyers will usually be applying for their mortgage, if they need one, and the estate agents will contact you to arrange for a surveyor/valuer to attend your property. The buyers’ solicitor will apply for their searches from the Local and water authorities – you should receive the results within 2 weeks but this can take longer depending on the authorities’ workload.

DID YOU KNOW? Research suggests it can take an average of 24 days to complete paperwork after an offer is accepted! By instructing us early, you’ll already be a step ahead.

Step 4 – Enquiries

The buyers’ solicitor will review the documentation that we have provided, together with their search results, and will then raise additional enquiries if necessary.

Once we receive the enquiries, we will answer all the points we can but we will usually need to contact you to answer any queries we cannot deal with.

TOP TIP: If you have any guarantees, planning permissions or building regulations certificates, please provide these to us at an early stage. This will help to reduce any queries your buyers and their solicitors may have.

Step 5 – Signing

We will send you the Contract and Transfer to sign, in readiness for exchange and completion. By signing the contract at this early stage, you are not committing yourself to the transaction. The contract only becomes binding on exchanging contracts.

DON’T FORGET: Your signature must be witnessed on the transfer document. The witness can be anyone other than a member of your family and must be over the age of 18. They’ll need to sign and print their name, confirm their occupation and address. If there is more than one person signing, then each signature will need to be separately witnessed and the same person can witness all signatures. We cannot complete a sale without being in possession of the original signed transfer document.

Step 6 – Exchange of contracts

Once all enquiries are satisfied and the buyer is in receipt of their mortgage offer and search results, contracts can be exchanged.

The standard conditions in the contract come into effect on ‘Exchange of Contracts’ and you become legally committed to proceed with the sale of your property.

On exchange of contracts, the buyer will be required to pay a deposit of up to 10% of the purchase price. At this point, the completion date is fixed. This is the date when you will need to move out of the property and the purchase money becomes payable.

Following exchange of contracts, we will forward you a completion statement for approval.

Step 7 – Completion

On completion, you must vacate the property and make arrangements to hand over the keys, usually to the estate agent.

Once we receive the balance of the purchase money, the sale is complete. We will pay off any existing mortgages you have on the property in accordance with the Completion Statement, pay any estate agency fees and send you any remaining balance. Alternatively, if you have a related purchase, we will transfer the money across to your purchase file.

We cannot give a definite time for completion as this can be down to several factors such as the banking system and the number of properties in the chain. However, we will call you when the funds have been received.

Where an estate agent is involved, you should leave the keys with them. You will usually have until 2pm to vacate the property on the day of completion.

TOP TIP: Remember to read the meters and advise any utility suppliers of final readings, taking photo evidence as proof where possible.

Every house sale is different but as a general guide, from receipt of contracts, the house selling process usually takes 7 to 9 weeks for a freehold property and 9 to 11 weeks for a leasehold.

Get in touch

We understand that selling a property can be stressful, but at Harding Evans, our extensive knowledge and experience of the conveyancing process means we can act efficiently and ensure the best possible quality service so that your move goes smoothly.

Get in touch with the team today by clicking here.


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