Posted on 14th July 2012

Preparing a House for Sale in a Challenging Market

MArtin Williamson, Head of Residential PropertyA few weeks ago, I gave some tips to first-time buyers thinking about taking their first step on the property ladder. This week, Im going to offer some top tips on the kind of things you need to be aware of when selling your home, which are particularly relevant in todays challenging property market.

One of the most important things to consider when selling your property is to secure a range of property valuations for your home at the outset. Do not simply go for the highest valuation, particularly if that valuation is considerably higher than the next highest estimate. This could well lead to problems during the sales negotiation process, as the buyers surveyor could provide a lower valuation, causing the process to stall.

In addition, and largely because of the tough property market at present, do not take your property off the market until exchange. There could be a problem with the mortgage arrangement and, as Ive already mentioned, the valuation could come back lower than expected. Or, the buyer could simply get cold feet and back out.

As a vendor, you can ease the buying process by making sure you have all the relevant paperwork to hand. If the property is a flat, make sure you have a copy of your lease and if your property has undergone any significant alterations, you will need to show proof of the necessary approvals.

Here are a series of key questions to ask yourself when selling your home and how to deal with them:

Alterations:

  • Have you extended the property?
  • Have you converted the loft or garage to provide extra living space?
  • Have you removed or altered any internal walls?

If yes, you will need to supply any relevant planning permissions or building regulations, approvals and completion certificates. Further to this, you should supply any technical drawings or guarantees to your solicitor to ensure that the buyer has all relevant information up front.

Improvements/Maintenance:

  • Have you installed replacement windows?
  • Has the boiler been replaced?
  • Has an electrician installed any new circuits?

Each of the above will require Building Regulations approval or the industry equivalent (FENSA, Gas Safety or NICEIC.)

Access to the property:

  • Is parking for your car on the road or on land to the rear or side of the property?
  • Does the property have the use of an access that is not maintained by the Council?
  • Do you make any contribution towards payment of roads or paths serving your property?
  • Ifrelevant paperwork or permissionswere not obtained, solutions can be discussed with your solicitor at the outset and offered to the buyer at the beginning of the process (thus avoiding any delays before contracts can be exchanged.)

Finally, a crucial point to remember is that until exchange of contracts takes place, a buyer is not tied into anything, so can back out at any time. Between exchange and completion, its much less likely that the sale will fall through, as the buyer will most likely lose their deposit if they pull out.

One of the most important things you can do to make sure a house sale goes smoothly is to have a good relationship with your solicitor and to make sure that your solicitor is in regular contact with the buyers solicitor. Good communication will help to ensure that the sales process does not grind to a halt.
Martin Williamson

Disclaimer: Please note that the firm is not to be held responsible if anyone acts on the basis of the advice contained in this article.