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When you’re selling a property, the process of legally transferring home ownership of your property to the buyer is called conveyancing. It starts when the buyer makes you an offer and ends when you hand over the keys.
Conveyancing can be very straightforward, yet it can also be a longwinded process full of surprises. Whilst there are no guarantees on how long it could take, if you want to sell your house fast, there are steps you can take to speed up the process and help ensure a quick house sale.
We Buy Any House spoke to Zara Banday, Partner and Head of the Residential Property Department at leading solicitors Slater Heelis LLP, to uncover the tricks that encourage a smooth house sale.
1. Know what you’re selling
Making sure you really know your house before you put it on the market; from when it was last rewired to the depth of the loft insulation is a winning tactic. “The most important thing is to know your house. Knowing your house before you put it on the market – when you’ve had an extension, whether it is freehold or leasehold, right down to the model of your fridge – is key in speeding up conveyancing,” Zara says. “You need to be able to answer any queries your buyer may have about your property.” In this vein, ensure you have your title deeds to hand early on, so you can prove ownership of the property. If you don’t have them, your mortgage lender may have them or even the solicitor you used when you purchased the house. Zara adds “It’s surprising how many people selling their house don’t know where their title deeds are. The longer you take to provide these, the longer it can take for your solicitor to send out a contract to your buyer’s solicitor, so it can really hold up the process.”
2. Dealing with solicitors and surveyors
Once you’re ready to put your house on the market, appoint a solicitor to get things moving. Get ahead of the game by selecting one that’s been recommended – either by a friend or by your estate agent – to ensure you’re working with someone who’ll get things done quickly. Once an offer is made, a surveyor will contact you on behalf of the potential buyer. He or she will need access to inspect your property – how thoroughly will depend on the type of survey requested. If you want to sell your house fast, the advice is to make time to see the surveyor at their earliest opportunity. “Most buyers want surveys done quickly, so it’s best to accept any dates surveyors offer,” Zara says. “The longer you leave it, the longer it can take to sell your house.”
3. Be open and thorough with the details
When completing the property information form for the buyer, give as much detail as possible and be upfront about everything. If you’re planning on taking the carpets and some of the garden plants, but leaving the furniture, for instance, make this clear. It will prevent the extra time it takes for an enquiry to be raised, that you then have to answer. Zara says: “People can be frank when giving information about their home. It’s best to be open and honest with the buyer from day one. The more information they have, the less likely they are to raise an enquiry.”
4. Be proactive with your paperwork
During the conveyancing period, deal with the paperwork promptly. Taking too long to complete forms or reply to emails undoubtedly creates delays, and could put your eager buyer off. “Before a contract is signed, the transaction is not binding. The buyer can get concerned and walk away over the smallest thing, so you should always be proactive,” Zara advises. “If you’re taking too long replying to emails, the buyer can get concerned and wonder why and think there are underlying issues. You could lose your sale if you aren’t proactive.”
“If you’re taking too long replying to emails, the buyer can get concerned and wonder why and think there are underlying issues. You could lose your sale if you aren’t proactive.”
-Zara Banday, Slater Heelis LLP
5. Keep in touch with your estate agent
Around 30% of house sales stall or fail at the conveyancing stage. While there's not much you can do if there's a problem to be solved, like a restrictive covenant on the land or query over a change in the deed, you should have confidence that your estate agent (as well as your solicitor) is doing all they can to drive the sale forward. Your estate agent should be keeping you informed; you shouldn’t have to chase them for updates. If you’re not happy tell them and, if things don’t improve, be prepared to take your custom elsewhere. If you want to know how easy it should be to sell your house, take a look at these house sale success stories, or give us a call and ask how we can help.