YOU have put your home on the market, arranged your Energy Performance Certificate, received an offer on your property that you are happy with, so what is the next step?
The estate agent will be keen to start the transaction as soon as possible.
They may even recommend that you instruct a particular solicitor, but as with all contracts you enter into, it is important to do your research first.
I always recommend that you obtain a number of estimates from various solicitors and compare them carefully before instructing someone to act on your behalf.
Make sure you know the entire cost of the work so that you can make a proper comparison.
Make sure you speak to the person that will be handling your case. You are after all, trusting them with the sale of what is probably your biggest asset.
It is important that you know that they will keep you informed and updated of the progress and talk to you honestly and openly about any issues that arise.
Most buyers are keen to proceed at a good pace and want to move in as quickly as possible.
To keep up the momentum, let your solicitor know where the deeds to your property are and your mortgage account details.
Your solicitor will send you information forms for you to complete.
Take time to go through any documentation that you may have relating to the property, for example, a Fensa certificate relating to any replacement windows or planning permissions for an extension and any guarantees.
The more detailed documentation you can provide your solicitor with at the outset, the more likely the number of enquiries you receive later will be reduced and this will help expedite the sale. Inquiries raised will vary for every property but try to answer them as quickly and as accurately as possible. If you do not understand a question, call your solicitor and ask about it.
Do not leave it unanswered, as this causes delay and it is likely that if the buyer's solicitor has taken the time to ask the question, they will require it to be answered satisfactorily before the matter can proceed.
If there are any problems with the property, you may be asked to pay for an Indemnity Insurance Policy on completion. Such policies are a one-off payment and if you agree to provide it for your buyer, the cost will usually be deducted from the proceeds of sale.
Policies are available for all sorts of problems such as: lack of planning permission or building regulation consent to alterations, absence of rights of way or breach of covenants, to name but a few. You may decide not to pay for them but you risk a buyer withdrawing from the transaction or refusing to proceed.
Many sellers agree to provide these or offer pay half just to expedite the transaction but if you are unsure you should ask your solicitor.
Once the buyer's solicitor is satisfied, you can exchange contracts and fix a date for completion. Until contracts are exchanged, your buyer is not committed to proceed to completion and therefore I recommend that you do not book removals until you have exchanged.
On completion, your solicitor will arrange to settle the estate agents fees and pay off any mortgage that you may have. You should let your solicitor know where to send any proceeds of sale that are due back to you.
Finally, it is important that you remove all your possessions from the property on completion including any rubbish otherwise you may find that the buyer comes back to you for the cost of having any left over items removed.
Cheryl Smith is a solicitor at Boyce Hatton and can be contacted on 01803 403403. More information is available by logging on at www.boycehatton.co.uk