Selling your home may seem a daunting prospect at the best of times, and simply overwhelming as we emerge from lockdown. However, estate agents are re-opening their doors, and the property market is already bouncing back, so preparing all the legal groundwork to get ahead of the game will pay dividends by smoothing the way for a quick sale. This can include getting your finances ready with your solicitor, doing as much conveyancing as you can in advance and physically preparing your home for sale. So, if you would like to know how you can prepare the legal ground for a quick house sale, Hancock and Partners have put together this blog to help you. 

How could coronavirus affect your house sale or purchase? 

Although property viewings and house moves are allowed, regulations are in place to prevent the risk of a second wave of infection. If someone in the chain contracted coronavirus or a company involved in the sale stops trading as a result, this could stall the sale of a home. Some solicitors are even suggesting additional conditions in a contract to protect the ‘chain’, but this can delay the entire process. 

Despite the delays in the market, industry leading portals recorded their busiest ever day on Wednesday 27 May, surpassing six million visits for the first time and up 18% on the same Wednesday in May last year, which demonstrates how the market is already poised to recover. So, what can you and your solicitor do to ensure that the process is as smooth as possible if you are putting your house on the market? 

  • Vacant possession 

If the property to be sold is offered with vacant possession, the conveyancing process is far easier as there are no restrictions, and transactions can proceed as normal. Completion dates can be agreed without worrying about related sales in the chain and whether people are able to move out before completion can take place. If this is not the case, transactions can be finalised as soon as move dates have been confirmed.

  • Arrange your finances

The Government is urging all parties involved in home moving to be adaptable and flexible. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your mortgage is approved as soon as possible. Since the start of lockdown, the number of available mortgage deals has reduced, but there are still plenty of good rates to be found – especially if you have a large deposit.

Before exchanging contracts, you will need a formal mortgage offer already in place, so things can proceed quickly when the time comes. As with many other businesses, bank and building society staff are working remotely so delays in confirmation of mortgage offers may occur, which is something important that you need to take into consideration. 

  • Keep up to date with changing legal requirements

The coronavirus pandemic is an ever-changing situation, which means the government is constantly updating its laws and guidelines. It is vital that safety comes first, so it is essential both you and your solicitor work together to ensure that you are following advice. For example, if a prospective buyer is looking to visit a property, make sure your estate agent is observing social distancing and following all hygiene guidelines. 

  • Streamline the conveyancing process

Conveyancing is the legal transfer of property from one owner to another. The conveyancing process can be lengthy if not carried out efficiently, which is why you need to work with your solicitor closely to ensure that everything is completed. For example, all the administrative work needs to be completed, signing your authorisation for the solicitor to commence work, confirming your identity and providing all paperwork you hold in relation to the property as soon as possible.

One way to streamline the process is to speed up the searches, performed by your solicitor, revealing certain statutory matters, like planning enforcement notices, which could affect the property. These turnaround times can vary, but it is important you start the process early and utilise online search facilities to help save you and your solicitor time. Some searches are essential, whilst others are optional. It is also important to note that while you can speed up the process and save money on searches by booking council appointments online yourself, not all lenders will accept personal searches, so your solicitor may have to provide them.

  • Prepare your property

This point is more relevant to the current homeowner who hasn’t yet found a buyer, but it is important to ensure your property is completely ready for your house sale. First impressions really do count, no matter whether it is a virtual or physical viewing, so it should be photographed to its maximum potential, showing off your property to prospective buyers across the market. This is going to make the process a lot quicker from a legal perspective, allowing you to ensure everything is ready for any viewings and securing a quick sale. You also need to respond to buyer’s questions promptly, disclosing all information when requested, avoiding delays in the sale of the property.

If you have an offer waiting, you can prepare your property by completing a fitting and contents form. This is completed by the seller to confirm exactly what they will and won’t be leaving behind on completion of the sale. You will be able to receive this form from your conveyancing solicitor.

  • Have relevant documents prepared

Just as an example, if building work has previously been completed on your property, the seller will need a form of certification to say that the works have been inspected and that they comply with building regulations. Building works must comply with certain standards to ensure that they are safe and energy efficient. It is important to have the relevant documents to hand for your solicitor when selling your house as these are going to speed up the selling process considerably.

  • Plan the exchange of contracts

If you already have an interested buyer who has made an offer during this period, you and your solicitor need to work as quickly as you can to facilitate the exchange and completion before anything changes and risks the transaction not proceeding as planned. The most ideal situation is if the exchange of contracts happens on the same day as completion, avoiding any possible delays and the risk of being in breach of contract. Your solicitor can then send the title deeds and transfer deed to the buyer’s conveyancer, using the proceeds of sale to discharge any existing mortgage.

Contact Hancock & Partners 

If you are looking to sell your home in Chichester or in West Sussex, the Hancock and Partners team would be more than happy to help you. Our team has a wealth of experience in the property market and we can assist you in securing a successful outcome when selling your home. 

To have a chat with our property specialists, you can call us on 01243 531155 and an experienced, friendly professional will be ready to offer advice and help. Alternatively, feel free to complete the contact form on our website and we will be on hand to assist as soon as possible.