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Speed up the sale process

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The property market has been boosted by an eight-month Stamp Duty holiday, slashing thousands of pounds off the cost of moving house. There has never been a better time to move home. However, with the countdown on, it is important to speed up the sale process to give your sale the best chance of completing before the deadline on 31st March 2021.

How to speed up the sale process

Chris Salmon co-founder and Director of Quittance Legal Services explains how being proactive can speed up the sale process.

Get the legal process underway

When selling a property it is recommended to get the legal process underway at the same time, or shortly after, going on the market. Being legally ready from the outset will most definitely help speed up the conveyancing process.

Conveyancing is essentially a process of due diligence carried out on a property by the buyer’s solicitor. The buyer will want to confirm points such as whether the legal title is defective, that all permissions have been obtained, and whether there are any neighbour disputes. The buyer’s solicitor will also need to report to the buyer’s mortgage lender.

The bulk of the legal heavy lifting is carried out on the buyer’s side. However, the process cannot start until the buyer’s solicitor receives a comprehensive sale contract pack from the seller’s solicitor.

Complete the forms

The sale contract pack will include a draft contract and several forms to be completed by you, the seller. These detailed questionnaires include the TA6 Property information form, the TA10 Fittings and contents form, and the TA7 Leasehold information form (if you are selling a flat).

The forms are time-consuming to complete and may require you to find copies of supporting documents such as warranties and permissions. Until you return these completed transaction forms, both yours and the buyer’s solicitor will twiddle their thumbs.

Completing these forms before you find a buyer means your solicitor can send the sale contract pack as soon as you accept an offer. Better still, it will help your solicitor identify and resolve any issues before they have a chance to create delays.

For example, if you are selling a home with an ‘unofficial’ roof terrace (without planning permission), the buyer’s solicitor will pick this up and it could delay or even jeopardise your sale.

A solicitor reviewing your sale before you find a buyer can, for example, identify a suitable indemnity insurance policy. The policy can be offered as part of the sale giving assurance to the buyer.

Another common example is when electrical works have been carried out at a property but there is a missing Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC). In this case, the solicitor can advise the seller on the options to remedy the problem before it has a chance to delay the sale.

ID verification checks

As a regulated business, conveyancing solicitors are required to carry out KYC (Know Your Customer) checks for money laundering and client identification purposes. Solicitors are not allowed to represent clients without first confirming that you are genuinely who you claim to be.

This process can involve posting or obtaining a certified copy of your passport. These checks often waste 7 to 10 days at the beginning of the conveyancing process, yet they could be completed before you find a buyer.

Getting your ID documents certified by a local solicitor may be difficult as the coronavirus crisis wears on. This makes it difficult for firms to verify your identity via the usual method. You will be understandably reluctant to put your passport in the post at the moment, never mind sending it to the private address of a homeworker.

Most solicitors have been quick to adapt quickly. You should now be able to send a digital copy of your photo ID, and then have a real-time video call with your solicitor. On the call, you can verify your identity by holding up your original ID in the same frame as your face.

Leasehold properties

On average, leasehold conveyancing transactions take significantly longer than freehold sales. This is partly down to the added complexity and additional parties involved in the transaction.

With a leasehold sale, your solicitor will need to write to your freeholder or managing agent to request a management information pack. This pack will include service charge and ground rent accounts, any plans for major works, and details of legal restrictions or covenants.

Some managing agents work to reasonable deadlines, but more often than not, sourcing this information is a major cause of delays on leasehold sales. Since the market restarted, managing agents have been struggling to meet the sudden increase in demand for information within a reasonable timeframe.

If you are selling a leasehold flat, you should get a solicitor to apply for this information without delay.

Don’t delay

Sellers tend to be unaware of the benefits of getting the legal ball rolling before they find a buyer. It is estimated that 80% of sellers wait until they have found a buyer before instructing a solicitor.

The case for instructing a solicitor at the same time as you go on the market has always been a compelling one. As with any industry, the property sector must balance the new commercial reality with the demands of the market. The backlog at local authorities, lenders and managing agents could all combine to delay some property transactions.

Adopting a proactive approach now could prevent your sale from getting caught up in the congestion once you find a buyer.

Most conveyancing solicitors now work on a fixed fee basis. The earlier in the process you instruct your solicitor, the more of their time you will have for the same fixed fee. As most firms also work on a no sale, no fee basis, there is no reason to delay.

For further advice on selling or buying a house simply get in touch with us at John German – contact us.

Chris Salmon – Author Bio

Chris Salmon is a co-founder and Director of Quittance Legal Services. Chris has played key roles in the shaping and scaling of a number of property legal services brands and is a regular commentator in the legal press.

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Date Posted

July 20, 2020

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Author

Katy Storer

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