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What does it take to sell your home?

November 2020

Let me ask you a question: what do you think it takes to sell your home?

I bet your first thought would be setting a realistic price. Then maybe, a great estate agent or impressive marketing perhaps? All of these help, but they won’t actually sell your home because they all relate to the period before you go Under Offer. What really sells your home is what comes after this.

To be clear, when I say ‘sell’, I don’t mean getting to Under Offer. What I do mean is getting to Exchange, because that leads by virtue to Completion, which is when the majority of the monies change hands and is what actually counts. Getting to Under Offer in the current market is only step one and that’s when the hard work really begins.

Whilst the Yorkshire market remains strong and buoyant, the timeframe from going Under Offer to Exchange is now more of a chasm than ever before. There are several reasons why what used to be a fairly standard 4 to 6 week window, has hugely elongated to between 10 and 12 weeks.

Across just about every industry sector there has been cost cutting, Covid restrictions, staff cuts and more staff absences than ever before. Throw in a strong market over the top and then the whole lot results in a perfect storm leading to a huge slowdown in the conveyancing process. Lenders remain highly twitchy and risk adverse, with conveyancing solicitors either having excelled in the storm or gone to ground. By far the biggest issue at the moment is the local authority searches which are taking significantly longer than normal.

For example, Harrogate Borough Council now takes a whopping seven weeks (last time I checked) to turn around a solicitor’s search request. Previously you may have been able to sidestep this by going for personal searches instead, but these days few lenders will accept them and even if they do, at the moment they are also taking a similar amount of time to come back.

So what can you do?

Never before has it been as important to have a solid, experienced and capable property team around you. To be in the property sector and be successful at it, you need to be at the top of your game nowadays. I say this because by the time you add up how long it takes from initial launch to Under Offer, then say 3 months to reach Exchange and another month thereafter to Complete, the process can easily stretch to 6 months.

You therefore need to ensure that your conveyancing solicitor is proactive and will fully engage with the agent (believe it or not, some don’t!) Equally, you need to check who will personally do the sales progression at the estate agent office (If you’re passed on to a general call centre, you should run a mile). Given the timeframes involved, you need to keep your agent motivated and this comes back to paying them a fair rate. Cutting their sales bonuses combined with long timeframes and difficult transactions will only erode their incentive to work on your sale.

Always research the solicitor acting on the other side and immediately request that they are replaced if below par. Often solicitors will hold out for all searches to arrive back and then they raise enquiries (questions). However you should always stipulate that once that majority of searches have come back, that a buyer’s solicitor should raise enquiries on these, so the process can keep moving forward. When the local authority search arrives, this can slot into place at the end.

So if you want to sell, my advice is to concentrate on the part that counts – getting to Exchange and not Under Offer.

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