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What happens once I have agreed a sale on my house?

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Have you just received a telephone call from your estate agent to tell you that an offer has been made on a property you are trying to sell?  Is it a good offer, which you want to accept? 

If so, you will need to appoint a solicitor who deals with residential conveyancing to ensure that the sale proceeds and that all necessary legal formalities are attended to.  This includes providing evidence of ownership, answering buyer enquiries, agreeing when completion of the sale will take place and preparing the documents needed to enable the deal to be finalised. 

In this blog, written by the head of our residential property department, Anees Khan, we give an overview of how the conveyancing process works from the perspective of a seller and the things that can be done to help your house sale go according to plan. 

 

Conveyancing overview

The process you will need to go through to complete the sale of your house will vary depending on a number of factors, including whether you own the property outright or under a shared ownership or other type of lease arrangement, whether details of your property have been registered with the Land Registry and whether or not you have a mortgage. 

Assuming you own your property outright (which is known as ‘freehold’ ownership), the stages you are likely to have to go through are as follows.

 

Stage 1 

Appoint a solicitor to act on your behalf and provide them with the details they will need to get the ball rolling, including your name and address, proof of ID to comply with money laundering regulations, the address of the property to be sold and agreed sale price, the name and address of your estate agent and the name and address of the buyer and their legal representative. 

 

Stage 2 

Help your solicitor to compile the documents that the buyer’s lawyer is likely to want to see, including:

  • a copy of the deeds to your property;
  • any warranties or guarantees that exist, for example in respect of recently completed building works or a newly installed boiler; and
  • a Sellers Property Information Form and Fixtures and Fittings List (completed by you) which detail everything you intend to leave in your home and garden and answer commonly asked questions, like how much council tax you pay, what your broadband reception is like and whether you have ever fallen out with your neighbours. 

 

Stage 3 

Help your solicitor to reply to buyer queries, for example over the location of boundaries where the position is not clear or to address concerns raised in the buyer’s mortgage valuation or professional survey. 

 

Stage 4 

Authorise your solicitor to contact your bank or building society to find out how much you owe on your mortgage (assuming you have one) and to put them on notice that this will shortly be repaid. 

 

Stage 5 

Agree the terms on which your property will be sold and give the go-ahead to your solicitor to prepare a contract in which these terms are confirmed, and which can then be signed by you and the buyer to create a legally enforceable agreement which commits you both to proceed, save for in very exceptional circumstances. 

Stage 6  

Help your solicitor to deal with any further queries that may be raised by the buyer’s lawyer as they double-check they have got everything they need to enable the deal to be finalised. 

Stage 7 

Authorise your solicitor to formally complete the sale on the date agreed and to then attend to any related matters, such as redeeming your mortgage, sending the original versions of all documents to the buyer’s solicitor, using the monies received from the sale to settle your legal fees and estate agent’s costs and then accounting to you for the balance by depositing any monies that are left over in your bank account or by making payment to you via cheque. 

 

How you can help 

The average house sale takes between eight to ten weeks to complete.  However, there are a number of steps that you can take to help speed up the process and to make things as easy to deal with as possible. These include:

  • putting a solicitor on standby when you place your house on the market, so that they are ready to go as soon as an acceptable offer is received; 
  • gathering together all of the relevant documents you have, so that you are ready to hand them over when they are required;
  • obtaining a provisional settlement sum from your mortgage provider, known as a redemption figure, so that you have a rough idea of the amount that will need to be repaid;
  • completing any forms that your solicitor sends to you quickly and as honestly and fully as you can; 
  • ensuring that you are easy to get hold of, so that if a problem arises, or a query is raised, it can be dealt with promptly and without causing delay;
  • booking in a removals company as soon as the date for completion has been agreed and you get the go ahead from your solicitor that things look likely to complete as planned; and
  • ensuring that you are ready to move as soon as you get a telephone call from your solicitor to confirm that the sale monies have been received and the deal has finally been done. 

 

How we can help

We understand how stressful selling a house can be, which is why our conveyancing service has been designed to make dealing with the legal aspects of the sale process as easy as it can be.  

Here are some of the many benefits our clients enjoy:

  • an instant quote for the cost of our service, which means that you know up-front how much you will have to pay;
  • a conveyancing team staffed by qualified solicitors and experienced paralegals who are committed to seeing your sale complete quickly;
  • direct access to the lawyer assigned to deal with your case, who you can contact at any time during our usual office hours;
  • regular updates on the progress of your matter and likely timescales for completion;
  • a free translation service for members of the Polish community; and
  • disabled-friendly offices, conveniently located a short walk from Crewe train station and with allocated visitor parking so that you can pop in to see us whenever you need to.

 

More information

To find out more about our residential conveyancing service, please call Anees for free on 0800 1956412.

We can assist with the sale of your home, a holiday rental, a buy-to-let or investment property or even a house belonging to an elderly relative or loved one, provided you are authorised to deal with the property on their behalf, for example under a lasting power of attorney, a court issued deputyship order, a grant of probate or letters of administration.