The legal and administrative process is the reason property purchases take a long time.
Although as a house seller there are less administrative issues you have to bother about, it is still recommended that you hire a professional solicitor or conveyancer. The legal aspect is highly important, and you should not run the risk of inaccuracies that might cost you dear later on. Since conveyancing takes on average 2 to 3 months, it is safe to get a solicitor as soon as you decide to sell your house. It will not cost you any more to instruct him early, so you can avoid serious delays by getting him to set up legal documents like the contract when you start advertising.
As a seller, your administrative duties are not as extensive as the buyer's. Still, you will need to get a solicitor as soon as you accept an offer in order to take care of the following tasks:
- Sale agreement. The solicitors will exchange contact details and letters specifying the particulars of the sale.
- Title deeds. Your solicitor will have to obtain the property title deeds for the lender. They will be sent back to your solicitor at a later stage.
- Property information form. List of all the details to be included in the draft contract. Have to be checked and approved both by you and the buyer's solicitor.
- Answer buyer inquiries. The buyer's solicitor will send a list with questions concerning property details, tenure, utilities, items to be included in the sale etc. to your solicitor. This should erase any ambiguities as early as possible.
- Draft contract. Your solicitor might have done this as soon as you instructed him. This is not a standard contract and will probably be changed quite a lot before you sign it. The draft consists of two parts:
As soon as the title deeds are returned, your solicitor will send the draft contract to the buyer's solicitor. When completion date and terms of the draft contract have been agreed by the solicitors, it will be sent to you for approval. As soon as approved, standard contracts will be set up and sent to you for signature.
- The Particulars of Sale spell out property details and items to be included in the sale.
- The Conditions of Sale concern the proposed completion date and deposit required on exchange of contracts.
- Sign contract. After signing, send the contract back to your solicitor. Remember , until contracts have been exchanged, the whole thing is not legally binding!
- Exchange of contracts. Now there is no way back. Each party signs all the contracts and sends them back. It is done.
- Receive deposit.You will now receive the buyer's deposit, if there is one.
- Transfer of money. The buyer's mortgage lender will send the money to your solicitor by electronic transfer.
- Transfer of deeds. Now you are no longer the owner of the house.
Solicitors either charge a fixed fee (usually between £250 and £750), or a percentage of your house's sales price (usually 0.5%). Make sure you get some quotes before choosing a solicitor and agree on his fee, in writing, before instruction.
The good thing about selling a property is that there are virtually no expenses that you have to cover for local authority searches, stamp duties and the like. All you will have to pay is a small Land Registry fee.