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How to Make Your Property Sale Easy

May 2021

As I write, there are widespread reports that the market is ‘on fire’. Ferocious pace, competition for properties, best and final offers – the list goes on. Given the current relentless market activity, many may be lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that life is easy and selling your home instantly happens. Well, not quite.

Whilst going on to the market (if it gets this far without being sold off-market) and then finding a buyer on the right terms is easy. As I have long said, going from Under Offer to Exchange remains incredibly challenging. There is no such thing as a ‘easy deal’ and I can almost guarantee that something will come up, whether it be unaccounted for time delays, parties moving the goalposts or the legal process. I can’t recall the last time I had a straight forward transaction, with no glitches along the way. So why is this the case and how does one go about ensuring your sale/purchase is as smooth as you can possibly make it?

Local authority searches on properties have always been one of the last elements to slot into place. Following the pandemic, staff cut backs and tighter budgets, councils have found the immediate surge in volume difficult to cope with. This has also applied to many water and drainage searches. Otherwise searches are generally turned around in a matter of days. The key here is to ask the buyer’s solicitor to raise enquiries once the majority of searches are in and not wait until they are all in. You can therefore tackle the majority of these in advance and deal with the last few towards the end.

Your conveyancing solicitor must be excellent quality and readily contactable if there is a problem. Never instruct a solicitor because they are cheap or they are mass-volume, it will always end in tears. However you must also check the solicitor acting for the other side, not just your own. If they are not of a similar calibre, you need to halt the transaction until they change. This will save a lot of stress, time and money in the long run.

As a buyer, your position is everything. In other words, how reliable, secure and low risk are you in the eyes of the agent and vendor. Whilst being Under Offer is good, being past exchange or in rented accommodation carries significantly more clout, which helps give the edge in the current conditions. Ensure that you have your identification documents to hand, proof of cash, agreement in principle on the mortgage is ready, plus you have a solicitor and surveyor in mind. Throw all of this at the agent when asked and you will inspire confidence from the outset.

The estate agent should be experienced and proactive. Many leave transactions alone once they go Under Offer, which is fatal in my opinion. In order to transact in a sensible timeframe, all parties need to be on the case and sparring off each other.

When both sides have a great team on their side, when the chips are down and you really need to make things happen, this is when each professional comes in to their own. I had a recent transaction where we exchanged at 9.30pm on a Friday night. This only happened because it was a collective team effort and each professional was at the top of their game. Great result, relieved buyers and sellers, but a huge amount of effort.

The key is to ensure that the team around you is the best possible – this includes estate agents, conveyancing solicitors and surveyors. Everyone needs to be on their tip toes and ready to pounce at any given moment. The effort from all individuals to get transactions over the line can be immense and in the meantime, I continue to search for that elusive straightforward deal!

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