Suggestions That Might Speed Up House Sales

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Suggestions That Might Speed Up House Sales

They say a week in politics is a long time, witness the recent events in Westminster. By contrast a month is not a long time in terms of residential property, witness the discussions I had earlier this week with fellow agents on our respective stands at the Great Yorkshire Show. It baffles me (and others across our industry) why sales at present are becoming ever more protracted despite the benefits of modern technology.
The actual process of conveying a residential property that is a registered title (as most are) is not complicated. I can hear some of you saying I am being very sweeping with such a comment when historic title defects come to light, when a survey unearths unexpected problems or when difficulties arise with a chain of sales. Often such complications can be resolved relatively quickly where there is good communication between the parties and their respective advisors. So here are just a few suggestions to might help speed things up. I have mentioned many of them before in this column, but it seems to no avail given what I have encountered over the last month or so.
To sellers, please make an early decision which solicitors will be acting for you. If you have not moved for many years, it might be worth asking them to look at your documentation before you start marketing to see if there are any lingering issues that might be problematical. If you are appointing new solicitors, they will need time to undertake due diligence ahead of accepting your instructions. They will send you questionnaires about your property, including what fixtures and fittings are going to remain. Please don’t simply put them on the “to do“ list and forget it. Your house sale cannot progress without them. And when your buyer sends a surveyor, you may not agree with the comments made but denial of what might be a genuine problem may not be in your best interests because any problems are likely to be highlighted by the surveyor acting for your next purchaser.
A buyer also has to communicate and be open given they are as much a part of the process as the seller. I will avoid having another rant about what does or does not constitute being a cash buyer. Suffice to say there is no point saying you are and create false hope for yourself, let alone your seller, if you do actually require a mortgage, and your own sale has yet to exchange. And if buying a house built in the 1800s, it has probably stood the test of time quite well, but there will be issues (a bit of damp, creaky floorboards, the odd crack all come to mind). So perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect the seller to fund a raft of repairs which might in fact be an intrinsic and appealing part of what you are buying. And once you have agreed a price having recognised the strength, or otherwise, of your buying position, please be sensible as to when you expect to move. Maybe it’s worth first checking with your own solicitors before demanding of the estate agent that it must all be done in five weeks flat, otherwise “the deal is off”. It might well be before you have even started.
With good communication, openness and speed on the part of all stakeholders involved with the sale of a residential property, a lot can in fact happen in a month. Enough said.
Tim Waring FRICS is Head of Residential at Lister Haigh