Finding a buyer is often the fastest and easiest part of selling your home. The uncertain stage between accepting an offer and achieving exchange of contracts can certainly be the most frought and frustrating period for many sellers as there's the worry that buyers can change their minds at any time. Exchanging contracts without delay is therefore very desireable
It is now fairly common for at least 12 or 16 weeks to lapse between excepting an offer and reaching exchange of contracts. The longer this period is, the more risk of the sale falling through. This period of uncertainty can also cause a lot of stress and anxiety for buyers and sellers.
Here are a few suggestions about what you can do to avoid delays with your own sale once it has been agreed.
If you have owned your property as long ago as the 1980s, check to make sure that it has been registered with land registry. If it is unregistered some buyers solicitors are reluctant to exchange contracts until registration has been completed. If this applies to you, consult your solicitor for advice or speak to us at an early stage.
You may be required to provide documentation by your estate agent or solicitor relating to your sale - it's a really long list and this is not axhaustive! Preparing your file before you come on to the market is a good way to avoid a last minute rush and also means potential buyers can be shown copies of guarantees etc during viewings to give them reassurance. The sort of certification to get ready first is photographic proof of identity and seperate proof of address for each seller. Dig out relevant documentation for planning consents and building regs approval, completion certificates, proof of central heating boiler servicing within the last year, electrical test certification, FENSA certificates for windows and doors, NHBC certification or architects certificate for properties under 10 years old, HETAS Certificate of Compliance (Building Regulation Compliance Certificate) for woodburner stoves. guarantees especially for damp proofing or timber treatment.
If you are selling a leasehold property you really need to have a full copy of the lease (PDF is best) and detailed information about maintenance charges and liabilities that you are responsible for paying and what the costs cover ie insurance, communal light etc.
Instruct your solicitor before your property goes on the market. This should give your solicitor enough time to send you their client care forms and open up their file so that they are all ready to send out a contract immediately a buyer has been found.
Make sure that you respond to any request for information or documentation that your solicitor asks for immediately. Using email or making phone calls to respond can also save days at a time instead of relying on Royal Mail.
Leasehold property sales involve more work and are generally more complicated. Purchasers will require detailed information from whoever is managing the property. Management companies or freeholders can sometimes be slow to respond to requests for information. Speaking to the management company to establishing channels of communication in advance with these organisations and politely requesting a high priority for prompt provision of management packs etc. can sometimes smooth the process.
Make sure you are always easily contactable by your estate agent, solicitor, financial advisor etc. Be certain that they have all your contact details including phone numbers and email addresses. If you are not going to be contactable for more than a day or so let everybody know in advance. This is especially important on the run-up to exchange of contracts and completion.
Sometimes exchange of contracts can be held up when purchases solicitors make last-minute requests, especially concerning proof that boilers have been serviced up-to-date. Another common last minute stipulation is a demand from the buyers solicitor to have the septic tank drained down and checked. Again pre-empting or anticipating these requests in advance will save some stress and time.
If you are unable to vacate the property and give occupancy at short notice make sure that everybody concerned knows way in advance exactly how much time you will need between exchange of contracts and completion. This may act as an encouragement for purchasers to exchange contracts in a timely fashion.