Rosemary Reynolds – trainee solicitor in our Property team – discusses Selling and Buying: Moving Up the Property Ladder

Moving house is said to be one of life’s most stressful moments but it doesn’t have to be. If you know what to expect and approach the process with an open and realistic attitude you can move into your future home with the minimum of fuss.

To set the scene… you have found what you hope will be your next home. To sell your current place you have had the agents, along with a league of weird and wonderful people, many of whom you suspect are actually nomads just there for decoration inspiration rather than bona-fide purchasers, around for viewings upon viewings. Finally, you have a realistic offer on the table. All there is to do now is the paperwork and you’ll be in before you know it… right?

A quick turn around on a sale and purchase is possible but it requires openness about expectations from all parties. If you have deadlines that you need to stick to, the best thing you can do is to tell your solicitor as soon as you can, if for any reason it’s not possible, you will at least have more time to come up with Plan B.

As a seller, you will need to provide answers to all the questions that the buyers have in relation to your property. To narrow the scope of any enquiries, a transaction will normally start with two forms: the Sale Property Information Form and the Fittings and Contents Form. The more information you can include in these forms the better.

The best advice would be to dig out the guarantees you put in that “safe place” years ago if you can remember where that was. If you leave anything unanswered – or do not provide the documents associated with your answers – the buyer’s solicitor will be obliged to send another letter asking for them.

In the meantime, your solicitor will be drawing together all the information needed on your purchase, using the forms provided by the sellers and a range of pre-contract searches to ensure that your future dream home is not teetering on the edge of a mine shaft, or subject to more mundane evils such as a questionable extension that never quite got signed off. This can be a lengthy process where difficulties arise, but these are rarely as bad as they seem.  As there are a range of solutions to the problems that can present themselves, keep in touch with your solicitor and they will let you know what is best in the circumstances.

Once the questions are answered – and the documents are signed and back with your solicitors – you should be ready to exchange, where the agreement to sell at a mutually agreed completion date is made and is legally binding. A 10% deposit is usually required to be paid by the buyer at this stage. If the 10% coming in on your sale does not cover the 10% on your purchase then you need to be prepared to provide the difference.

The completion day is agreed at exchange. The time between exchange and completion can vary from taking place on the same day, within a week or two (which is most likely), to months in advance. This is entirely open to you to negotiate, but if you are obtaining mortgage funds most lenders will require at least five working days to get your mortgage money to you.

In the run up to completion, it is vital that you keep in touch with your solicitor as any issues that arise now need to be dealt with quickly. Finally, make sure any funds needed from your own savings are ready and available and you really will be in before you know it!

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