London Property: What Family Lawyers Need to Know | 17 May 2022

By Rose Lyle, director of private clients at INHOUS

Death and divorce are traumatic periods in life where people are at their most vulnerable yet often have to make important decisions regarding property and other assets. Quite often they are forced to sell a property, but don’t want to meet four or five estate agents, nor work out what the asking price should be, never mind haggling over the eventual price and all that can go with a sale.

It’s during such major life events that people need shielding from an overcrowded, unregulated property market. This is where INHOUS can help your clients. We work as your client’s representative with the appointed agents and other people associated with the property sale. If your client is getting divorced or has recently lost someone close to them, they are unlikely to be in the right place to deal with all this without assistance.

The booming property market

It is well documented that the London property market is flourishing, with Rightmove reporting that asking prices rose across all boroughs in April to hit another record high. Kensington & Chelsea saw the biggest jump in asking prices over the year with a 13.8 per cent increase, followed by Havering with a 11.3 per cent rise and Westminster at 11.2 per cent.

Properties are also selling faster than this time last year, taking an average of 51 days to secure a buyer, compared with 64 days in April 2021. Shortage of stock, combined with pent-up demand and low mortgage rates, are fuelling the market, presenting opportunities for sellers but also bringing immense pressure with them.

How the INHOUS managed sales service can help

Selling a property can be stressful at the best of times but when your client is dealing with loss and is trying to navigate a competitive property market, it is even more difficult. Our managed sales service is designed to navigate this.

There are plenty of potential pitfalls which need to be avoided. With such an acute shortage of stock, some agents are overvaluing in a desperate bid to gain the instruction. It might be tempting to go with the highest value but if it is unrealistic, and the property lags on the market when a speedy sale is required, it may not achieve its true potential when it does eventually sell. This is because it will have gone ‘stale’, with potential buyers wondering what is wrong with it, even if it’s down to nothing more than the asking price being too high in the first instance.

With our managed sales service, we act as an independent adviser, speaking to the agents, discussing the price, handling viewings and generally reducing your client’s stress. Family lawyers who recommend us to their clients know that if INHOUS handles the sale, we will give accurate advice on valuing the asset and manage everyone’s expectations from the outset. If two parties are divorcing, we will be impartial and fair to both.

We also ensure assets are sold discreetly, so they don’t hit the open market – often the best course of action to take, depending on the value of the property. In our experience, if your client is selling a property at the upper end of the market, say £10 million-upwards, it is best not to expose it on the portals. Buyers at this level wish to be discreet; they don’t want everyone knowing what they paid for a property or even that they are moving. The lower profile the sale, the better; we can ensure we reach the right buyers without going to the portals and over-exposing the property to the market, something which is likely to suit your client as much as the purchaser.

Navigating probate

Sometimes your clients will need more handholding than others, or they may be based overseas with a London asset that needs disposing of. We can tailor our service to suit your client; if required, we can address the presentation of the property before it hits the market. The INHOUS team works as your client’s trusted advisers and handle all the aspects of the transaction.

Quite often with probate there will be a number of beneficiaries involved; an independent adviser offering an alternative route to high-street estate agents provides everyone with peace of mind.

How INHOUS can help your clients buy

As well as our managed sales service, INHOUS also works with clients who are buying property. Family lawyers often recommend us to help their client’s children, or even grandchildren, with their property search, particularly if they are funding the purchase. They want to ensure their offspring is advised correctly; they may have a healthy budget but are still first-time buyers with little or no experience of buying or selling. They need an adviser to ensure they buy well and do not fall victim to the potential pitfalls of a highly competitive market.

Get in touch

The property market may be moving quickly but we believe it is important to give people time to make the right decisions. Your clients may well be emotional or under a lot of pressure and the last thing they need is even more pressure. We work closely with many family lawyers and their clients, and firmly believe that it’s about matching the right people, depending on the personalities involved.

Please get in touch to find out more.

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