Top 5 things to do before you sell your house
- Choose your estate agent wisely
To be clear, this does not mean choosing the agent whose opinion as to the sale price you can achieve is higher than the others – it is the market that dictates the price, and it the estate agent’s skill and craft in marketing to the right audience and preparing the conditions for a sale that is most important. A good estate agent will assess competing offers and give an opinion as to the one most likely to lead to a successful completion, taking into account such matters as the sale of the buyer’s own property, then needs for a mortgage, then the likely suitability of the property for their needs and the quality of their conveyancing support when it comes to progressing the transaction. There is significant competition on commission, and UK estate agents’ commission rates are amongst the lowest in the developed world as a proportion of the selling price, but the support offered can vary enormously. As with conveyancing services, recommendation by word of mouth from trusted friends or family can be extremely useful.
Be sure to ask your estate agent about their referral policy, in particular whether they provide recommendations to mortgage brokers or lawyers on the basis of a referral fee, as your buyer may not be encouraged by your agent to instruct the most suitable professional, but merely the highest bidder, which can have an impact on the smooth running of the sale. You should also ensure that your estate agent gives the property the appropriate coverage on key websites and to other buyers on their books who may have been unsuccessful in purchasing other properties marketed by the agent.
- Collate relevant documents
Many solicitors will still retain deeds and documents for clients long after the property was first purchased, and you should take steps to ask and obtain them, or at least know where they are. The most common unhelpful response to a conveyancing enquiry is that the seller does not know about actions that occurred before they purchased, but documents held by the solicitors who assisted in the purchase can make your sale much more efficient.
You can also ask your solicitor to provide you with the relevant information forms for you to complete. These can then be sent to a prospective buyer even sooner after their offer has been accepted, which will reduce the potential delay in completing the forms once a buyer has been found, and flag up information that may need to be obtained from third parties such as the Council.
- Know your planning permission requirements and building regulations
Any building work that has been carried out to your property may have required planning permission and/or building regulations approval. There are a number of tools available on the government website and the planning portal, as well as from the Local Authority, to establish whether approval may have been needed for any work, or whether in lieu of building regulations, certificates from trade bodies such as FENSA (UPVC windows and doors), Gas Safe (boilers, hobs and gas fires), NAPIT/STROMA/ ELECSA/NICEIC (electrical work), HETAS (solid fuel or wood burners) and so on. Further information regarding certification schemes and the areas of work they cover can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/competent-person-scheme-current-schemes-and-how-schemes-are-authorised. Your solicitor will be able to guide you on whether it will be necessary to apply to the Local Authority for retrospective approval, whether it is more beneficial to deal with the matter in some other way, thus avoiding delays in dealing with queries later on.
- Gather your volunteer “moving army”
Moving can be a stressful process, as well as involving a lot of physical exertion. You will need to decide at an early stage whether you will require the services of specialist removal companies or hire a van and arrange for family and friends to help you. Both will ask the inevitable question “when”, which will be a difficult one to answer when there are so many uncertainties involved in conveyancing, not least matching a timescale of your transaction with any others in the chain. You may need to have a couple of professional removal companies in mind in case the only date available is already booked up by your first choice, or be prepared to compromise and potentially set a much later completion date, if it means that your friends and family are available.
- Plan holidays carefully and communicate your availability
There are inevitably going to be blocks of time when you have booked holidays or are out of the local area due to work or other commitments. Likewise, you may be severely restricted as to when you can take time off from work or study to deal with your move. You should ensure that you clearly communicate your unavailable dates to your estate agent, your conveyancer, your mortgage broker (in the early stages) and anyone else who will be assisting you with the move, so that the timeline of the transaction can be adjusted around your availability. This avoids situations where your buyer has unrealistic expectations of available completion dates and should ensure a smoother process for all.
If all of the above tips have one thing in common, it is to try and avoid stress by communicating effectively and building a professional team to support you. Daniel and his team at Rawlins Davy Reeves can be a vital component.
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