Property Legal Q&A: I haven’t sold a property in some years. How do I get myself ready for when a buyer is found?

 
Hema Anand
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An important question for this tricky residential market. Uncertainty stemming from Brexit and various tax changes in recent years has meant transactions are taking longer to go through. The Government very recently announced it wants to streamline buying and selling residential properties. At present, they are consulting those involved in the process to find ways to make it cheaper, faster and less stressful.

Here are some practical tips to help with the sale of your property:

  • You will be required to complete certain forms and supply information about the property, which will relate to the last 20 years; not just during your ownership. It is useful to locate all planning consents or guarantees and building regulations for replacement boilers and windows you received from your solicitor at the time you purchased your property, as well as documents relating to works you have done.
  • If your property is leasehold, contact any managing agents or the landlord for details of fees and the time required to prepare replies to standard leasehold property enquiries (known as a LPE1 Form). The enquiries address buildings insurance, service charge accounts and landlord’s requirements. An initial call to know the cost and timing will assist managing timescales once a buyer is found.
  • At the time of marketing the sale of a flat, it is helpful to send a copy of your lease with coloured lease plans to the estate agents. You and the agent can check the plan accurately reflects the layout and the extent of the property. Often, there are discrepancies between lease plans and agents’ particulars and the sooner you can identify any issues, the better.
  • While you don’t want to incur costs before you have to, it is important to instruct your professional advisors in good time. Have an initial conversation regarding compliance issues. Sometimes providing proof of residency and identification, can take time, as can receiving tax advice.
  • If you have a mortgage registered against the property, do check that there will be sufficient funds from the proceeds of the sale of the property to repay it. If not, ensure you have made appropriate arrangements to pay the balance on or before completion.
  • If the property is tenanted, consider if you are selling subject to the tenant remaining and if whether you hold the appropriate paperwork or you need to request it from the letting agents. If the plan is to sell once the tenant has moved out, check what notice needs to be served and the time limits.

While the above are examples of delays solicitors often come across, purchasers will also be required to get their affairs in order to ensure the transaction runs smoothly.

Bircham Dyson Bell is a multi-disciplinary UK law firm advising private companies, public sector bodies, not-for-profit organisations and individuals since 1834. Visit bdb-law.co.uk to find out more

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