The INHOUS way of ensuring a smooth property transaction and completing before Christmas | 14 September 2022

Rose Lyle, Director of Private Clients at INHOUS, provides valuable insights into successfully navigating towards an end-of-year deadline.

With a rise in property sales reportedly falling through and the average time to complete on a property purchase increasing to up to 17 weeks or more1, it is essential for those looking to sell to be as prepared as possible in order to facilitate a smooth transaction.

For anyone looking to move before Christmas, there are now just 14 weeks to go, so preparation is even more important to ensure a timely move.

Christmas creates a natural deadline – vendors like to conclude the sale by year end and buyers are keen to get settled in their new home to enjoy the festivities. This gives all parties in a transaction a date to work towards.  When managing a sale, there are several practices we adopt to help protect our clients and minimise the risk of delays and fall throughs, as explained here.

Preparation from the outset

From the moment a client decides to move, our advice is to instruct a good solicitor. We would usually suggest using a London based firm (when buying in London), with an effective conveyancing solicitor. 

We consider a number of factors when recommending a solicitor – professional, competent (of course), and the suitability to our client’s personality (it’s helpful to appoint someone who has a similar approach). Importantly, we also check that they won’t be away on holiday at the precise time we need them – the festive season also means holidays!

Similarly, we ask the buyer to use a London based residential conveyancing specialist.  I recently worked on a transaction where the buyer’s solicitor was a property lawyer, but she specialised in commercial property.  The buyer received some inaccurate advice and the transaction was more arduous as a result.  We eventually exchanged contracts once the buyer got a second opinion from a residential property lawyer within the firm. Knowledge of the residential market really is essential!

Paperwork

Once the solicitor has been instructed, we recommend that the vendor prepares all of the paperwork to formulate a contract, even before we start viewings.  That way, once we agree a sale, all that needs doing is inserting the name of the buyer and the price – contracts can be issued immediately, without delay.

Another advantage of preparing the contract at this early stage is that if a vendor is missing any documentation – relating to building works, for example, they have time to resolve it rather than having to do so under pressure when there’s a buyer in place. It’s these sorts of things that can unnecessarily delay a sale.

Decorative work and staging

Presentation is also vital when selling, particularly if the market becomes more subdued. To ensure the property is presented in the best condition for sale before photography and viewings,
we have our own team who can look after any decorative works and staging required in order to present the house in its best condition for sale.

Agree dates from the outset

When negotiating a deal for clients, we usually include their preference for exchange and completion dates as part of the offer/agreement.  This lays out clear time frames for everyone to adhere to.  I would suggest speaking to both solicitors to agree these dates before issuing a sales memorandum, hence checking that they are not on holiday on any crucial dates.

Once the sale is in solicitor’s hands, providing all the paperwork is in order, there are two other potential stumbling blocks – survey and mortgage valuations.

Survey

Where possible, we usually recommend a surveyor to buyers – based on location, style of property and price point.  It is important that buyers are well advised when purchasing London properties which are often period buildings with lots of quirks.  A good surveyor will provide a full report with a succinct recommendations section at the end.  This is really what the buyers should focus on.

Mortgage valuation

Again, preparation is key.  Ahead of a mortgage valuation, it is important to prepare a full report on recent transactions on the street/adjoining roads to provide the surveyor and give context for the price agreed, something we do for our clients.

Good communication
Finally, good communication is essential throughout the transaction.  We liaise with both seller and buyer solicitors and ensure the lines of communication are open to resolve any issues as they arise. 

By preparing as much as possible upfront, appointing a strong team of advisors and communicating throughout the sale, we ensure that the transactions we manage run as smoothly as possible, resulting in the best outcome for both buyer and seller.


1 https://propertyindustryeye.com/property-sales-falling-through-prior-to-completion/

https://www.propertymark.co.uk/resource/housing-report-july-2022.html

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