First of all, congratulations!
Selling a property often represents a chapter closing on one stage of our lives, in order for a new chapter to begin. Naturally, you may be keen to conclude your sale and move in to your new home as soon as humanly possible. However, all you have thought about for the last few months is achieving the right offer for your home, so now you have got it (eeeek)… What do you do next?
I have put together this two minute read to equip you with the basics and to better prepare you for what to expect in coming weeks.
Once your sale has been agreed verbally, the next job is for your Estate Agent to confirm the basics (request proof of funds from your buyer, confirm solicitor details on both sides & carry out any necessary compliance checks).
Tip: Always make sure your home isn’t updated as ‘SSTC’ until your buyer has demonstrated full capacity to purchase.
The next step will be for the memorandum of sale to go out to all parties concerned. You may receive a written confirmation of the sale, as will your buyer, but crucially the solicitors on either side will be notified immediately so that contracts can be drawn up and enquiries can be raised in order to progress your sale toward completion.
Let’s face it, not many people enjoy administrative tasks. There are a few that do (infact, maybe you’re reading right now) but on the whole, paperwork is something we tend to put off. Please do not let that be the case with your ‘legal pack’. Your solicitor should write to you (via email or post) to request essential details so they can begin the conveyancing process. Be sure to complete, sign and return your pack as a priority as quite literally nothing will happen until you do. If you have a goal to move home (for example, within 8 weeks), don’t spend to of them looking for a pen and stamp.
Once your legal pack has been returned and draft contracts are drawn, the solicitor acting on behalf of your purchaser will likely want to raise some enquiries. Now, enquiries are basically a series of questions (some straightforward, others not always) but the enquiries will always be centred around your home, the surrounding area or contractual commitments (such as agreements with freeholders for example). Your solicitor will often present you with these enquiries to satisfy, after the completion of which they can return the queries back to the other side and move one step closer toward exchanging on contracts.
What does exchanging contracts mean? When contracts are exchanged, your sale essentially becomes legally binding. At this point, your buyer is now completely committed to purchasing your home – there’s no going back. Generally at this point you can breath a sigh of relief and sleep easy knowing that the work is done, and you have successfully navigated your sale. Generally speaking, completion will follow immediately after contracts have exchanged. Completion is the point where monies have been received by your conveyancer and it’s now safe for you to hand over the keys and say an emotional goodbye to your former home. Whilst completion generally takes place promptly after the exchange, it is possible for contracts to exchange and the completion of sale to take place at a later date.
How long will it take for my property to go from ‘SSTC’ to completion? I get asked this question a lot! The truth is that it’s very hard to give a ‘one size fits all’ response to this question. The reason being that there are so many variable influences at work that can, and will impact on progression time. For example, if you take a long time to return your initial paperwork – weeks (and in some cases, even months) can be wasted without anything happening. If a solicitors email accidentally filters through to ‘spam’, if a letter goes missing or if the responses given to the buyers enquiries are deemed unsatisfactory – all of this can negatively impact on the speed at which your sale concludes; not to mention factors around surveys, upward/onward chains and lenders. However, if everybody is on board with a swift completion, everybody remains responsive and the solicitors work hard it should take somewhere in the region of 6 to 8 weeks for the sale to complete. Again, it can sometimes be longer, sometimes be sooner – be sure to discuss your individual circumstances and those of your buyer directly with your Estate Agent.
What does the Estate Agent do during the progression of my sale? Whilst the ‘key milestones’ will now be heavily influenced by the respective solicitors on either side of the transaction, your Estate Agent will still be working hard behind the scenes. At this point of the sale your agent will be acting as a mediator between all parties, essentially relaying messages, feedback and logistics with all involved. See, as the seller you cannot have contact with the buyers solicitor. The buyer will not have direct access to your solicitor and in most cases contact between yourself and your purchaser will be channeled through your agent (stay with me).
Your Estate Agent will need to remain vigilant and be on hand to offer any support necessary up until completion. This may include being flexible to arrange any second, third or even fourth viewings. Facilitating access for a survey to take place. Your agent will need to be proactive with ensuring the solicitors on either side are being prompt in advancing your sale to a new milestone with every day/week that passes. The Estate Agent should be contacting both you and the purchaser every week with a development update; the truth is that emotions can (and often do) run high building up to a completion so keeping everybody on the same page is an instrumental step in ensuring a smooth, happy and swift completion.
At Esme Properties we work incredibly closely with both our own and external legal teams. We remain responsive and available for update 7 days per week. In our experience, not only does this help us deliver the exceptional service that our clients have come to expect, it also minimises the risk of complications with your sale or the sale falling through.
To discuss the sale of your property with us directly, please give me a call on 01253 366 001 at your convenience.
Until next time,
Ben (the one with the beard)