They say where there’s a will, there’s a way. I am delighted to report a recent sale that has exchanged and completed in less than eight weeks from when our memorandum of sale was first issued. The property was not vacant, so the seller needed time to move out, the buyer required a mortgage and their own sale had still to exchange when the transaction was initially agreed. I am sure some readers will question how this was achieved when their own sales have dragged on for months. So, what was the secret to such a swift sale from beginning to end?
I would love to tell you it was simply brilliant estate agency, but in fact we had only a cameo role once the buyer had been found and a price agreed. As such I must congratulate those who had much larger roles to play, although there were times when prompting was necessary by ourselves from the wings. To the sellers, thank you for taking our advice, when we were first instructed, to also appoint your solicitors, agree their cost and terms of reference, deal with statutory anti-money laundering obligations and swiftly sending back the completed fixtures and fitting questionnaire. And to said solicitors, similar thanks for recognising a proactive client and responding in a similar fashion.
As for the buyers, when negotiating you explained the true status of your sale. You had not actually sold (as many claim) you were sale agreed but on the verge of exchange, as then verified by your own agent. On request you immediately provided details of your funding arrangements, and a lenders decision in principle. You did not claim to be a cash buyer (as many do when in truth they require a mortgage). Your solicitor acknowledged receipt of the memorandum of sale by return and contact was immediately made with the selling solicitor. You quickly put your own solicitor in funds so the searches could be submitted based on Land Registry plans, likewise you promptly paid for a survey and mortgage valuation.
The survey identified certain matters. Whilst most were minor and all agreed to be expected given the age of the property, the boiler had seen better days. The seller recognised said boiler should at least be fit for purpose. The buyer said it was unreasonable to expect the full cost of replacement to be deducted from the price given they would enjoy a degree of betterment. As such they agreed to split the cost. And thankfully the seller was not trying to link the transaction into an onward purchase. This made it easier to track the progress of a short chain of related sales with the buyers’ agents (and others down the chain) adopting an open and informative dialogue.
Perhaps of more importance was the proactive and timely communication between the buying and selling solicitors. Where issues relating to a historic lack of building regulation approval came to light, the seller was pragmatic and admitted it was an oversight at the time, and duly covered the cost of indemnity insurance. And the buyer accepted a further indemnity for peace of mind to cover a debatable covenant breach never questioned since the 1920’s should be at his cost. Both sorted, exchange rapidly followed.
Does this all sound too good to be true? Perhaps but it did happen and proof that whilst flawed in many ways, the process of selling or buying a home does not have to be a long and drawn out affair. As I said at the outset, where there’s a will, there’s a way.