The most important part of sales progression is good contact between the buyer, the seller and the solicitors, as well as other parties such as mortgage brokers and surveyors. Statistically, some of the main reasons for sales falling through are breakdowns in communication and a lack of understanding of the sales process; that is why it is important that we are here for you to make sure the sale runs smoothly.
Once the sale has been agreed, solicitors will need to be instructed – usually, it’s helpful to instruct a solicitor before the offer is made so that we can get the Memorandum of Sale out to all parties as soon as the offer has been accepted. That way, we can get the ball rolling quickly. We do recommend our preferred solicitors – one of the most important things that can make the sale move swiftly is to ensure that all parties are singing from the same hymn sheet and using a solicitor that is familiar will help with this!
Once solicitors are instructed, it is then important that all paperwork and documents are returned to them promptly – especially from the seller. Documents such as the fixtures and fittings forms and copies of ID will be needed by your solicitors to prepare the draft contracts to send to the buyer’s solicitors.
If, as a buyer, you are purchasing with a mortgage, it is advisable for you to keep on top of it from the start, liaising with your broker and making sure they have all the correct documents. A mortgage valuation will then be booked in and the surveyors will contact us with regard to accessing the property – this procedure is carried out on behalf of the mortgage company so they know that the property provides sufficient security for the loan. Once the report has been finalised, the mortgage offer will then be issued.
Once the draft contracts are with the buyer’s solicitors, they will be reviewed and amended and initial enquiries will be raised. At this point, the solicitors will need to order a management pack from the property’s management company on the seller’s behalf as a lot of the enquiries that will be raised will be answered by this pack. The pack itself will contain crucial information about the property, including any works that may have take place and accounts in relation to service charges etc. There will be a fee for the pack, which varies depending on the management company. The seller should ensure that this is requested early on as the management company will need to prepare the pack and send it out to the solicitors, and the longer that it is left, the greater the chance that things will begin to slow down while it’s being prepared!
At this stage, the buyer’s solicitors will also order the local authority searches in order to check up on any potential concerns with the property such as a risk of flooding, future building plans, current planning issues, environmental concerns, etc. – these searches could take a few weeks to come back, so it is important the buyer makes sure their solicitor has ordered them at an early stage.
During this period there will be a lot of “back and forth” in terms of enquiries and waiting on documents. It is the period when a lack of communication can hurt the sale as it can cause progress to stall, so it is imperative for us to make sure that the lines of communication are wide open and that everything is being dealt with.
Depending on the circumstances, it is always good to plan ahead in terms of dates to work towards for exchange and completion. Whether the buyer needs to be in the property by a certain time, existing tenants need to be served notice or the seller needs to move out of the property, getting a grasp of what date you are heading for is always a good idea so that everything can be arranged.
Once all enquiries have been satisfied, contracts will be sent out to be signed by both parties and arrangements will be made for the transfer of deposit and funds. With a mortgage, it usually takes a little longer for funds to be transferred so this will need to be taken into account. We would then always advise that the buyer visits the property before exchange of contracts to make sure everything is in order.
Once an exchange date is set, the solicitors will exchange contracts for you. Many sales exchange contracts and complete simultaneously on the same day but, depending on the circumstances, you may need to have time (maybe 7 days) in between exchange of contracts and completion – this is usually in cases where furniture needs to be removed or tenants will be vacating, for example.
Once we have the call from the seller’s solicitors with confirmation of completion, we can then release the keys to the buyer!