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19th March 2019

Legally prepare your property for sale

 You’ve got your finances in order, decluttered and tidied your house, appointed an estate agent and agreed a sale price. So that means you are sale ready, right?

Almost. As a seller, you might be well-versed on the classic ways to prepare for putting your property on the market. But what about the legal side?

When vendors get their house ready for sale, they almost always think about things like DIY and decorating to attract potential buyers, and ultimately a sale. But very few consider legally preparing their house for sale. So, what does this mean?

When it comes to selling, preparation and doing your homework can help to make your sale run smoothly and we always advise our vendors to invest the same amount of time and effort into ticking legal and financial considerations off their list. Quite simply the longer a sale takes to go through the greater the chance of the sale falling through due to someone in your property’s chain experiencing a change in circumstances.

Here are our top tips to help you become legally sale ready.

Energy evidence

You, and anyone acting on your behalf, for example, an estate agent, must try to make sure an EPC is available within seven days of the property first being put on the market. Beware, Trading Standards can issue a notice with a penalty charge of £200 per dwelling, where an EPC is not provided. As a general rule, you need an EPC every time a home is put up for sale or for rent. So, a newly built property will have one, a landlord would need one to show potential tenants, and a seller should have one to show to potential buyers.

What’s included?

Before agreeing a sale, we recommend vendors draw up an inventory of items which you intend to include or exclude from the sale of the property.  Go through the property room by room, space by space and make a list of everything which is fitted and included, for example, wardrobes, kitchen cupboards or bathroom suites. You should also detail anything you are taking with you when you move such as curtain poles, light fittings and shelving. Don’t forget outdoor spaces too. This saves time and avoids confusion further down the line. Eventually, this information will be recorded on a fittings and contents form which you will submit to a solicitor clearly indicating what is included in the sale of the property.

Documents, documents, documents.

One of the most time consuming but critical jobs when selling is to get together any documents and information you have which relates to the property. When it comes to the conveyancing stage, buyers will want to see these documents and spending time finding them now can prevent unnecessary frustrating delays.

So, what do I need? As the seller you will need to engage a solicitor or conveyancer to act for you on the sale of your property.  They will send you a Client Care Letter which you will need to return and provide proof of identity such as passport or driving licence and proof of address on a utility bill or bank statement. Once your solicitor has received this, they will then send you some property information forms for you to complete.  These forms require you to inform potential buyers of any environmental matters such as flood risks or Japanese knotweed, as well as details of leasehold charges or maintenance costs for communal areas. Other questions included in the form relate to boundaries, ongoing disputes with neighbours, notices and proposals for proposed developments in the vicinity, likely costs to insure the property, parking options and the condition of the central heating and electrical wiring.

You’ll also need the property title deeds, which your solicitor can either obtain electronically or get from you. Your solicitor will also need you to supply to them any additional documents relating to the property, including: Fensa Certificate’s; any Guarantee’s for work you have had done; Planning Permissions; Building Regulations Certificates; and Leasehold Documents if your property is Leasehold.

By completing all of these documents in advance, and being sale ready, when a sale is agreed on your property all of these documents can be sent over to the buyer’s solicitor straight away.

Comprehend conveyancing

 This is the final legal hurdle to jump over. Conveyancing basically means legally transferring a property from one person to another. By law, it has to be carried out by a solicitor or licensed conveyancer who will handle all the legal aspects of buying or selling a property for you – carry out local council searches, deal with land registry, and transfer funds. It’s an important role, so choose carefully. The longer the process takes, the more likely your sale may fall through. So, do your research and pick a solicitor with a good reputation, who will keep you updated regularly and support you through the process. Solicitors are usually more expensive than conveyancers and are qualified lawyers, so they can offer a full range of legal services.

We only work with tried and trusted solicitors for conveyancing services and can recommend a number of local organisations. You could also ask friends and family, your mortgage broker or financial advisor for recommendations. Make sure your chosen property specialist is a member of the Law Society of England and Wales and a member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme. Conveyancers must be members of the Council for Licenced Conveyancers.

Throughout this process, your Redbrik Sales Manager will be there to guide you every step of the way, ensuring that the sale of your property completes on time by ensuring solicitors, mortgage advisors and anyone in the chain is kept up to date with what is happening and making sure each person is doing what they should be.

Ensure you insure

 While your solicitor handles the conveyancing, there are other things that you also need to organise, including insurance.

Buildings insurance covers your new home against fire, flood and storm damage. Mortgage lenders usually want to see that you have arranged buildings insurance from the date of Legal Completion. Contents insurance covers the contents of your home against fire, flood and theft. Mortgage lenders don’t usually need you to have this, but it’s very sensible for your own protection.

You should also think about having personal insurance in case your circumstances change. There are different types of life insurance and these include:

  • Life insurance gives your next of kin a lump sum should you die
  • Critical illness insurance gives you cash should you become critically ill
  • Income protection gives you a monthly income if illness or an accident stops you working
  • Mortgage payment protection pays your mortgage if you can’t work

You have done it!

 This is the day you have been waiting for – it means that you become the owner of your new home! Legal completion takes place after exchange of contracts and when your new home is ready to move into. Sometimes exchange and completion happen on the same day, but more often they are a week or two apart.

On the day of day of legal completion, you can expect the following:

  • Your mortgage lender releases the money to pay for your new home
  • You pay other costs, such as stamp duty and solicitors fees
  • Your conveyancer or solicitor receives the title deeds for the home
  • Your conveyancer or solicitor registers the transfer of ownership of the home with the Land Registry
  • We will meet you and hand over the keys so you can move into your new home!