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The Hardest Part of Selling

May 2022

If I asked you what the hardest part of selling your home was, I am going to guess that you will say getting everything to presentation standard, keeping the children’s’ toys tidy during the viewing process or choosing which offer to go with. But you’re wrong on all counts.

Taking photographs, creating a brochure and getting out to the market is straightforward. Viewings and nursing offers out of buyers, again is relatively simple. What you are forgetting is the point from when the memorandum of sale is issued and you go ‘Under Offer’. From this point onwards to exchange of contracts is the hardest I have known it after 20 years in the industry.

Currently the conveyancing process for the vast majority of transactions, is taking anywhere between two and three months – seriously! Long gone are those heady days of getting to exchange in a mere four weeks. Everything takes so much longer nowadays and paranoia has stifled much of the process.

If we take a moment and think just how many collective hours of meetings, emails, phone calls, viewings, adverts etc all go into selling a home. At the end of it, the estate agent has carefully crafted putting a proposed deal together, where both buyer and seller are happy. This fragile infant of an agreement is now about to be released for the first time beyond the confines of the estate agency encampment, into the wilds of the conveyancing landscape. All of a sudden, various third parties now have to be involved in the process – lenders, mortgage valuers, building surveyors, various trades for quotes and of course two sets of solicitors. One then also introduces large amounts of money, emotions and time into the mix – the results can therefore be quite explosive if an agent isn’t on their game.

Perhaps one can now better understand why the relationship between conveyancing solicitors, surveyors and estate agents can be so strained at times. Afterall, the estate agent only gets paid once the deal exchanges. Everyone else gets paid regardless if the deal gets over the line or not. In one sentence, any of these third parties can squash a deal in it’s tracks. This is why estate agents tend to give solicitors a bit of a hard time, as it’s the lack of control and putting their ‘property baby’ in the hands of a solicitor who now is judge, jury and executioner if the deal will actually make it over the line or not.

In this highly litigious world we now live in, solicitors and surveyors are understandably more concerned about getting something wrong and being sued in years to come. Much to the frustration of estate agents who feel able to take a commercial and pragmatic viewpoint, these other professionals want a more belt-and-braces approach and to minimise any associated risk. The problem with this, is that no property transaction comes without risk and one has to weigh up the pros and cons of it all. However we seem to have taken matters to the extreme recently. For example, I had a mortgage lender insisting on having a tree survey carried out. There wasn’t a problem with this except it was the day before exchange and there were no trees anywhere nearby – it was a flat in a large modern block! Despite the bank being informed of this, they still wanted it doing and which of course was another cost to the buyer (there’s another article in there I think!).

Whilst one may think that selling a property is simply putting a buyer and seller together, unless their associated advisors agree, it isn’t going to happen without a lot of cajoling.

It is therefore imperative that when you come to sell your home, make sure yours (and your buyers’) conveyancing solicitor is the best they can be and never skimp on this cost. Set out a clear timeline for when your buyer should have achieved various milestones and above all, make sure the sales progression with your chosen estate agent is sublime.

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