‘Can we exchange yet?!’ – How to speed up your sale or purchase
The most common grumbles when buying or selling a house are still “why is it taking so long?” and “why can’t we exchange yet?”.
Whilst buying and selling a house is definitely quicker than it used to be, there are still things that you as the buyer or seller can do to assist your solicitor and to speed up your transaction.
Here are my top tips:-
- Complete your forms. At the outset of the sale, and ideally as soon as the property goes on the market, your solicitor will send you a property information form and a fittings and contents form (and if you are selling a flat, a leasehold information form) to complete and return to them. These documents form part of the contract paperwork that is sent to your buyer’s solicitor. The sooner you complete these forms, the sooner the buyer’s solicitor will have a full pack of information to work through and the quicker they will be able to raise any enquiries they have.
- Alterations. In the property information form you will be asked whether you have carried out any alterations to your property. If you have, make sure that when you return the form, you also provide copies of the relevant planning permissions, Building Regulation completion certificates, electrical and gas installation certificates etc. This will reduce the amount of enquiries that need to be raised by your buyer’s solicitor.
- Guarantees. The property information form will also ask if there are any guarantees for the property. Again, if there are, make sure these are given to your solicitor with your completed forms. For example, if the property is less than 10 years old there should be a new home warranty and if you have had damp treatment carried out there should be a damp proofing guarantee.
Time spent getting your paperwork in order at the beginning of your sale, or even better, as soon as the property goes on the market, always pays off in terms of the time saved once the lawyers become involved.
- Survey. If you have decided to have a survey carried out (which we would almost always advise you to do) it is for you to instruct the surveyor rather than your solicitor. Bear in mind that the surveyor may not be able to visit the property immediately, so the sooner you book in your survey the better. Once the survey has been carried out, the surveyor will prepare a report which may take a further few days. You should forward a copy of the survey report to your solicitor immediately as they may have to raise further enquiries with your seller, depending on the results.
- Mortgage. With the exception of some new build properties (i.e. properties bought off plan) where the anticipated completion date is more than six months away, you should not exchange contracts without a mortgage offer in place. So, if you are purchasing with the aid of a mortgage, it is really important that you provide your lender with all of the documents that they request as quickly as possible e.g. ID documents, evidence of income etc. They will not be able to issue a mortgage offer until you have dealt with all of their requirements. This is particularly relevant right now since lending requirements have recently become much stricter and we are already seeing delays.
- Money. On exchange you will need to hand over a 10% deposit to your solicitor so make sure that this is in an account which is readily accessible as you may be asked to transfer it to your solicitor at relatively short notice.
- Completion Date. Completion can take place as soon or as long after exchange as you and your buyer/seller agree. Start thinking about this early on in the transaction as exchange cannot happen until a completion date is agreed. Let your solicitor and the estate agent know of any dates that you cannot do and also let them know of your preferences. This will avoid the need to negotiate on dates once everything else is ready to go.