Selling Your Home – Checklist for Property Sale

Just because you have instructed a conveyancer to act for you in a purchase doesn’t mean that you are able to abdicate responsibility altogether. Of course your conveyancer will carry out the legal work however there are still some things you need to be aware of and take responsibility for, after all it is your sale and it is in your interests that it goes smoothly.

At the outset think about any special requirements you might have as regards moving dates. Do you need to complete by a certain date? Can you only move in the school holidays? Will you need some time between exchange and completion to find a rental property? Find out the buyer’s situation too – does he/she have a property to sell and if so how advanced is that transaction? Gather together any papers that you think might be relevant. The idea is to present your conveyancer with the fullest picture of the transaction and your requirements possible.

Property Sale Checklist

There is a lot to do when selling a property and to ensure that important points are not overlooked it can be helpful to have a checklist to work from. The list below is an example, though as is the case with this entire article it is given without prejudice and neither the author nor the publisher warrants that it is exhaustive. After the list we will examine some of the points in more detail:

  • Before you start, gather together any information which you think might be relevant to a buyer. This might include guarantees, certificate for works, planning permissions, copies of any notices received (for example plans to install traffic calming measures in the surrounding roads, a planning application by a neighbour etc);
  • Think about what items you plan to leave in the property and what you plan to take with you or dispose of. Discuss this with the buyers once you accept their offer;
  • Discuss any preferred completion dates or deadlines with your conveyancer in advance;
  • Ask for an outline of the conveyancing process and what you will be required to do at various stages;
  • Most people expect completion to take place around a week after exchange of contracts, so if you need longer, for example to find alternative accommodation, let your conveyancer, your buyer and your estate agent know from the start;
  • Discuss with your conveyancer any arrangements or agreements which you have reached with the buyer;
  • Check the contract prior to signing and ask your conveyancer to explain any terms you don’t understand;
  • Deal with any enquiries your conveyancer asks you to answer promptly;
  • Keep in regular contact with your conveyancer

Gather Together Information

At the start of the transaction you will be asked to complete a “Seller’s Property Information Form” which contains a series of questions about the property including what works (if any) have been done, whether there have been any disputes with neighbours and if so whether there is any documentary evidence. It will save time if you have all of the relevant paperwork ready to send to your solicitor with the property information form. You should send original documents as your solicitor will need to confirm to the buyer’s solicitor that originals will be handed over on completion.

Think About the Items You Want to Take and Leave

As well as the property information form, you will also be asked to complete a “Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form”.

This is a list of items on which you indicate what will be left at the property following completion and what will remain.

It is important you discuss this with the buyer. You might be planning to leave something that they don’t want, or they might really love a particular thing that they were expecting to stay and that could have influenced their decision to make an offer. There may be items which you are willing to sell and which they are willing to buy, so negotiate a price and include details on the fixtures, fittings and contents form. The form becomes part of the contract on exchange so it needs to be accurate.

Discuss Completion Dates With Your Conveyancer

You will often have a date in mind that you would ideally like to complete. This might be to coincide with work commitments or holidays, or you might have agreed to rent a property from a certain date or to complete an onward purchase. If you are letting a property you might have given tenants notice to vacate and want to tie completion in with the end of the tenancy.

Your timescales may not always be realistic but if not then it’s important that you know that. Your conveyancer will not be able to guarantee any date until later in the transaction but it will help him if he knows what you have in mind.

Ask For an Outline of the Conveyancing Process

It’s important that you understand the conveyancing process and that you know what will be expected of you and approximately when as this will enable you to plan the transaction so that delays are not caused because you are, say, not available to sign a document.

How Long Between Exchange and Completion?

Many sellers who are moving into rented accommodation following a sale will want to wait until contracts are exchanged before looking for alternative accommodation. This makes sense – if you commit to a rental property before exchange and then the sale falls through, this could end up costing you money. If you find the ideal property but don’t commit to it then by the time of exchange it may no longer be available.

Nonetheless, most buyers will assume if not told otherwise that the period between exchange and completion will be around a week. This isn’t long to find somewhere to rent and you could end up with somewhere that is not ideal just to avoid being homeless. If therefore you do need longer, let your buyer, your conveyancer and your estate agent know how long you need at the outset so as to manage people’s expectations. If there is a chain, ask the agent to ensure that the whole chain is informed.

Check the Contract Prior to Signing

This sounds incredibly obvious but it is surprising how many people do not. First and foremost, check that the sale price is correct. Second, read any conditions (known as “special conditions”) which are attached. If there is anything that you do not understand ask your conveyancer to explain how it will affect you.

Deal With Enquiries Promptly

I most cases your conveyancer will ask you to reply to enquiries raised by the buyer’s conveyancer. These will be things that only you as the owner of the property would know and which the buyer’s conveyancer thinks might be important to his client. The transaction will not proceed until you answer them so it is important that you do so fully and promptly. If there is anything you don’t understand then discuss it with your conveyancer.

Keep in Regular Contact With Your Conveyancer

You should aim to speak to, or e-mail, your conveyancer once a week (or whenever you need to communicate something important) just to make sure there is nothing you need to be doing, for example you might have been sent some forms or enquiries that have never reached you or that you though were just for information and did not need dealing with. A lack of communication can cause significant delays. Do try to avoid “hounding” your conveyancer though; calling more than once a week unless you have a specific need to. They cannot work on progressing your sale while he is on the phone to you!

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