There are a lot of things buyers and sellers can do to make sure their sale and purchase process runs smoothly. Our guide to co-ordinating a purchase and a sale gives you 10 top tips to help address any potential problem areas before they arise.
1. Prepare your paperwork before you put your property on the market
When you sell a home, you have to provide a lot of information to the buyer, via your legal company. You have to provide:
1. Proof of your identity
2. Evidence you own the home
3. Mortgage account/roll number
4. Information about the neighbours, disputes and your property boundaries
5. If you are aware of any nearby proposed property development or alterations to neighbouring properties
6. What you are going to include in the sale of the property, eg carpets, curtains
7. Evidence of work you have carried out, especially if a competent person is required such as a Gas Safe Registered engineer or Part P qualified electrician
8. Warranties and guarantees for work and items sold with the property
9. Information about your utility providers
10. Where essential facilities such as the fuse box, meters and stop cock are located
If you own a leasehold property, you will need to have a copy of the lease ready and may have to pay for this being provided by the management company if you don’t have a copy to hand.
If you can, it is ideal to secure all this information before you put your property on the market and have it ready to send to your legal company on the day your property goes up for sale.
Speak to one of our Hunters experts for a full list of information you need, or if you require further help.
2. Appoint your legal company the day your property goes on the market
It takes time to choose the right legal company for your purchase and sale.
Ideally appoint one that offers a ‘no sale, no fee’ service and ‘fixed fee’ and has excellent relationships with its clients – and agents.
The legal work to achieve completion after an offer is made requires:
1. Great communication between different parties such as brokers and agents;
2. People who are proactive and happy to pick up the phone to solve a problem or secure information, not just write letters/emails;
3. Expertise. Some specialise in leasehold; others Help to Buy or Shared Ownership; some Buy to Let. Always ensure they have the necessary knowledge to co-ordinate your purchase and sale well.
We find that the cheaper the legal services offered, the poorer they are at providing a good service. This is typically because, in our view, they take on too many cases per person.
Of course, no-one wants to pay a lot of money for legal paperwork, but considering you are spending tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds, or even millions, making sure you have a legal company that can spend time successfully co-ordinating your sale and purchase is essential.
To ensure you have the expert legal help you need, we have our own specialist conveyancing service, Hunters Home Conveyancing. The specialist team liaise well with their agent colleagues and help to do everything they can to progress your purchase or sale.
That’s why so many of our clients recommend us to their friends.
To find out more, contact or visit your local branch for details.
3. Find a property to buy once you have secured an offer or sale on your own
It may be the reason you are putting your property up for sale is that one you have loved for years has now come up for sale, in which case it is a matter of making sure you use an agent like Hunters that has half the level of sales fall throughs after offer stage than the national average.
However, if you are planning a move and have yet to find a new property to buy, it might be worth putting your home on the market first, seeing what level of interest you have and waiting until you have received one or more offers before you fall in love with the next property – just in case you don’t get an offer in time and end up losing the home you had hoped for.
This also has the advantage of potentially helping you to negotiate a better deal, rather than having to offer the highest price possible as you haven’t secured a buyer yet.
Most agents would recommend you accept an offer from a seller who has already secured a buyer than a seller who has only just put their property on the market.
4. Consider selling, moving out, then buying
If you are able, one way of ensuring you co-ordinate a sale and purchase successfully is not to try!
If you are looking for your ‘forever home’, some people are in a position where they can sell their own property, then move into a friend’s or family’s property or rent until they have sold their own home.
This can, in the short term at least, make the move into a longer process, but if you either aren’t sure where you want to move to or can’t find what you want on the market when it is a good time to sell, then it can be worthwhile, especially if your next move is to the home you have always dreamed of buying and you plan to stay there for the rest of your life.
If you do sell first and move into temporary accommodation, this means you will also become a cash buyer.
Being a cash buyer has several advantages:
1. It means you only have to worry about your purchase, because your sale is already complete;
2. You can offer more flexibility on the timing of your move, which maybe an advantage to the seller and mean they choose to sell to you over another buyer;
3. It may be possible to make an offer and secure the property more cheaply as you can buy faster than someone with a mortgage.
And, if you are planning to purchase a major renovation project or self-build, it means you will be able to stay in the temporary accommodation until the property is ready to move into. This can actually end up being cash neutral or even save you money if the work can be carried out more quickly if you aren’t living in the property.
5. Choose your buyer and person to purchase from carefully
Most of us would naturally want to take the highest price we were offered on our home, but this can end up costing more in the long run.
If the person offering the most money hasn’t sold their property yet, needs a mortgage and hasn’t applied for one yet or, following the offer doesn’t appear to be progressing the legal and financial paperwork quickly, then it is quite possible their offer may fail.
Therefore, it is essential for a smooth sale and purchase to ensure the agent you work with is clear on which offer they think is the best one to take based on the buyer’s circumstances, as well as the offer they make.
At Hunters, one of the reasons we only have one in six property sales fall through is because we only take on a property if we are sure the seller is serious about moving and we will make checks on your buyer’s position to be able to afford a property.
6. Start decluttering before you exchange
This may seem a simple recommendation but, as many people now only move once every 20 years, it is extremely helpful if you start to declutter as soon as you start planning to move and carry on the process as much as possible prior to exchanging.
We all have books, CDs, DVDs or even records and tapes which we may no longer use, due to the advent of eReaders and streaming. This could even be the time to get rid of the shelves they fill.
The first place to start is probably your loft or any outbuildings, especially your garage. Many of us forget how much we have stored from the past in our homes and if you are planning to move, to keep down the work and cost relating to your move, it would be helpful to get rid of everything you don’t want or need.
Other things you can start packing straight away include seasonal items. If you plan to move in the summer, Christmas decorations and winter clothes can all be packed away in the hope that your sale and purchase will go through beforehand.
Finally, check your kitchen cupboards and freezer. Do they have any items which are out of date or something you don’t eat any more? If so it is worth binning them now rather than spending time and effort moving them.
7. Have independent checks carried out on your utility readings
You would be surprised how easy it is to end up in a dispute over who owes what when it comes to utility bills, so make sure on the day you move, or just before, you:
1. Take a picture of the meter reading, ideally using a camera which records the date;
2. Request the utility company visits and takes meter readings which are recorded within 24 hours of their visit;
3. You have a smart meter that shows the meter readings on the day you leave.
If visiting, the agent may agree to take the readings for you.
8. Pay for someone else to pack your belongings
If you do have a lot of items to pack, and especially if you have precious and valuable property, it may be better to have a professional pack your items for you.
This can also mean you can live your life ‘normally’ up until a few days before you move rather than having to purchase boxes and pack everything yourself. Plus, if you haven’t done this before or haven’t done it for a long time, you may inadvertently cause items to be damaged in transit.
In fact, it may end up costing you more in time and money in the long run if items get broken, or even lost, during the move, especially if you don’t have insurance to cover it.
9. Have a moving contingency plan
There is nothing worse than waking up on moving day, excited about moving to your new home, only to find out that one of the banks or lenders in your chain has suffered a collapse in their system, so no money is changing hands.
Or it may be that someone in the chain hasn’t provided the cash or lending monies to complete the purchase.
It may even be that the seller of the property you are buying is not ready to move out until late in the afternoon, making it impossible for you to move your belongings in that day or even over the weekend. Some people think they just need a small van to move out or can manage the move themselves but completely underestimate the time it takes and end up making several trips, extending the time it takes them to move out of the property.
To aid a smooth move, it is worth ensuring you have a contingency plan of where your belongings will be held overnight or over the weekend if, for any reason, you are not able to move on the day you planned.
This could be staying at a hotel, with friends and involve a local storage company. If you use a professional removals service, they are likely to have facilities you can tap into so, when you secure quotes, it’s worth asking how they would deal with this situation.
10. Make sure you leave your current property to arrive at your new one for 1pm
Few people seem to be aware that most legal contracts state you must move out of your home by 1pm the day of completion.
This gives you time to move out in the morning and the buyer time to move their belongings – or the essentials at least - into the home in the afternoon.
One way to ensure a smoother move is to move on a Wednesday or Thursday instead of a Friday, which is when most people tend to plan to move.
Friday is the worst day of the week to try to move because everyone tends to choose it, using the weekend to unpack and get settled in.
Bringing it just one day forward to a Thursday not only gives you an extra day to move in but also allows you more time to unpack and even have a little rest before going back to work on the Monday.
This is especially crucial if you have packed up and cleaned your own home from top to bottom as you may find, when you arrive at the new one, that you have to start all over again; cleaning, clearing or even decorating before being able to unpack.