In the current property market, properties are selling for less and sales are taking longer to complete. Unfortunately we are seeing more sales going abortive due to issues with properties which sellers aren’t dealing with early enough in the process. There are lots of tips available about attracting a buyer but how do you convert a buyer’s offer into a quick exchange?
Timescales: Try to agree timescales for exchange and completion at the outset. Your agent will be able to assist with this and it helps to focus all parties’ minds on getting the deal done. The timescales should be realistic though to avoid you being disappointed when they aren’t met. The agent should also encourage the buyer to book their building survey as soon as possible after the offer has been agreed.
Be prepared: the buyer’s solicitor requires lots of information about the property before they can get started on carrying out their due diligence. Liaise with your solicitor as early as possible to make sure they have a full sales pack to send to the buyer’s solicitor as soon as a deal is agreed. Your solicitor will need your help in completing the property information forms, leasehold information forms for flats and the fixtures and contents form. Make sure you fill in these forms as comprehensively as possible to avoid issues not being discovered at a late stage and causing delays.
Consents: Make sure you have the correct documentation in relation to works which have been carried out to the property. One of the biggest delays we see in transactions is due to the seller not providing the necessary documents for the alterations/extensions which they carried out. If you have carried out works, did you need planning permission, listed building consent, building control sign off? If so, send copies of all these documents to your solicitor. If your property is a flat or it is on an estate then you may have required the landlord or estate’s consent. Again, send these documents to your solicitor.
Management Packs: If your property is a leasehold, the buyer’s solicitor will need to review the management sales pack. Your solicitor will usually obtain this pack for you from your building’s managing agent but it can take a couple of weeks to obtain and there is usually a fee for obtaining it. Make sure your solicitor obtains this as soon as possible to avoid delays.
Dealing with issues: Be clear with your solicitor early on if there are any issues which you suspect could arise as they will be best placed to advise you on these issues and work out a solution for the buyer. For example, if you don’t have any of the consents mentioned in point 3, discuss this issue with your solicitor as soon as possible. You may be able to obtain indemnity insurance to cover the issue or you may have to obtain retrospective consent. You should discuss this with your solicitor before approaching any of the parties about a lack of consent so that you do not rule out the option of obtaining insurance.
Communication: good communication between all parties will make the transaction proceed smoothly. Make sure you respond to enquiries by your buyer quickly and encourage your agent and solicitor to communicate. Good solicitors and agents will work together to deal with any issues which the buyer may raise.
Flexibility: Be open and flexible to the buyer’s requirements. There is no getting around the fact that it is a buyer’s market at the moment so you need to listen to any issues which the Buyer raises and then have a realistic conversation with your agent and solicitor about your options. You, your solicitor and agent may have to think outside of the box to give the Buyer the comfort they require without you feeling like you are getting a bad deal.