A seller’s guide to the property selling process
Exciting news… you’ve had various viewings on your property, you’ve accepted an offer and your property is officially SOLD, but what happens next? Now it’s time for us to step in and start working with your solicitor on the paperwork to start the legal transfer of ownership to the new buyer.
At the start of the sales process your solicitor will request certain information from you including:
- Fixtures & Fittings: a list of what you will be taking with you, what will remain in the property (e.g. curtains) and what you are happy to negotiate for.
- Property Information: a questionnaire to supply information such as ownership of boundaries, any alterations that have been made, any rights of way etc. You might also be asked for the title deeds which may be kept by your lender.
To avoid any delays, it’s helpful if you can have all the necessary documentation ready to pass over as soon as possible. Once your solicitor receives the above paperwork, they will prepare a draft contract and send the information to your buyer’s solicitor.
If you are also buying a property, you should inform your solicitor as soon as you have an offer accepted, so they can start conducting the ‘property searches’. The local search is one of the most likely aspects to hold up a selling chain, as every local authority is managed differently. Adur and Worthing council for example, currently aim to complete the local authority basic searches LLC1 (Local Land Charges Register) and CON29R (local searches including planning proposals, building developments and conservation area notices) within 10 to 15 working days. It’s best to get this underway as soon as possible and keep in regular contact with your solicitor regarding its progress.
What are ‘property searches’?
Essentially, searches are enquiries made by your solicitor to various organisations in order to provide more information about a property. The main searches are submitted to Local Councils, the Environment Agency and Water Authorities. Information gathered might include details of common drains and access rights, the ground the property is built on and whether planning permission may be granted for future development, for example.
A note about surveys
A mortgage lender will usually conduct their own survey to ensure a sales price and mortgage amount is right and fair. As the agent, we will liaise with both you and the surveyor to book a time and date that is convenient for this appointment to go ahead. We recommend you instruct an independent surveyor to carry out either a homebuyer report or a full structural survey for their own peace of mind. Again, we will liaise with you and the surveyor to arrange a convenient appointment.
Your buyer’s solicitor
At the start of the sales process your buyer’s solicitor will do the following:
- Conduct property searches
- Raise enquiries: a list of questions generated by the searches and/or by the paperwork supplied by your solicitor, in which case you may be asked if you know the answers to the queries raised.
Signing and exchanging contracts
Once searches and surveys are satisfactorily complete and the terms of the final contract have been negotiated and agreed, a copy will be sent to the buyer and yourself for approval. If both parties are happy you will be asked to sign and send back the copy of the contract to your respective solicitors. When both solicitors have received these back you will be in a position to ‘exchange contracts’. At this point a completion date is agreed and the buyer pays a deposit to your solicitor, you are both now legally committed to the sale.
If you choose not to move forward after this stage, you could be sued, and you would need to return the buyer’s deposit. If the buyer pulls out, they will lose their deposit.
Arranging to move
Once contracts have been exchanged it is advisable to start preparations for your change of address, in particular with utility companies, who will need to take a final meter reading on the day of completion.
Your change of address should also be conveyed to a number of people including
- Government bodies
- Financial institutions
- Banking and savings account providers
- Credit card companies
- Pension services
- Store loyalty card providers
- Insurance providers
- Home insurance
- Car insurance (plus any breakdown service provider)
- Mobile phone insurance
- Life insurance
- Pet insurance
- Health insurance
- Utility suppliers
- Gas provider
- Electricity provider
- Water supplier
- Regular bills
- Home phone
- TV and broadband suppliers
- Mobile phone
- Your employer
- Schools / colleges
- Health care providers such as doctors and dentists
- Clubs, including sports teams and gyms
- Subscriptions for newspapers, magazines, newsletters
- Any charities you support
To make this process a little easier, Royal Mail can also set up a temporary mail redirection to your new address for three, six or 12 months after moving if you feel this is necessary – guaranteed there will be something you miss!
On the day of completion final payments are made between the solicitors in your selling chain. Once funds have cleared for your property, we will be informed as your agent to release the keys to your buyer, and ownership of the property now fully transfers to the new owner. You will be expected to vacate the property on the completion date, usually by lunchtime.
Selling and buying houses is a very personal journey and with our help and support you’ll be on your way to making that property dream, a reality. If you have any questions, we are very happy to help, please visit or call your local Michael Jones office or contact us here.
Other blogs that may be of interest, include:
- 5 essential secrets for selling your property
- Getting your property on the market
- Preparing to sell your property – a helpful guide!
Content accurate at time of publishing.