Selling a house

If you do decide to sell your home without involving an estate agent then the Moneywise website contains some useful information. You can also use search engines as a research tool.

Whichever route you decide, you will need to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) in place before you can sell the property – failure to do so is an offence which Trading Standards deal with and which is punishable by a fine.

If you instruct an estate agent, then they will usually organise the EPC for you. However, if you would rather not use the Energy Inspector recommended by the agent, then talk to us and we can make other recommendations for you.

The offer

Your estate agent is obliged to communicate any offer made by a potential buyer in relation to your property. Your estate agent will be able to advise you whether an offer is reasonable or not.

When you accept an offer, the estate agent will take the buyer’s details and pass them to us so that we can prepare the sale paperwork and send it to the buyer’s lawyers.

Before exchange of contracts

Once a sale has been reported to us, we will prepare and submit the paperwork to the buyer’s lawyers.

We will ask you to complete a questionnaire dealing with things such as disputes, boundaries, alterations to the property, utility suppliers and council tax.

It is vital that you provide us with all the information you have about the property at this stage so that we can deal with any possible issues at an early stage.

If there is relevant information in your possession which you do not disclose to your buyer, you may be held liable if the buyer later discovers a problem which has resulted from the failure to disclose.

We will also ask you to complete a form showing fixtures and contents which are both included in the sale price and excluded from it.

Once you have completed all the paperwork, we will send it, together with the contract and copies of the title deeds, to the buyer’s lawyers.

It is likely that once the buyer’s lawyers have looked through all the information, they may have additional questions about the property which we will discuss with you before sending replies to the buyer’s lawyers.

Signing the contracts

If you’re buying a property as well as selling, then we will probably need to meet with you. However, if you are simply selling then it’s usually possible to deal with signing the paperwork by post.

At the stage of signing the contract we will discuss with you and agree:

  • The completion date
  • The deposit
  • Any updates needed to the information you’ve provided
  • If you have a mortgage, the amount required to pay it off on completion

Deposits

At exchange of contracts a deposit is paid by the buyer to you and held by us until completion.

Traditionally, this deposit is a sum equivalent to 10% of the sale price of the property, although a reduced deposit is often agreed.

We will discuss the deposit sum with you before exchange of contracts. This will be particularly important if you are also buying a property, since it will affect what you can afford to pay as a deposit to the seller of that property.

Exchange of contracts

This is when the contract for your sale becomes binding. Following exchange, neither you nor the buyer is able to withdraw from the transaction without incurring a financial penalty.

Once we have dealt with the deposit, are holding your signed documentation and have agreed a completion date, the exchange of contracts is dealt with by us and the buyer’s lawyer.

If you are both buying and selling, then we will ensure that the two transactions are dealt with simultaneously.

Before completion

Before your move, we will:

  • Ask your estate agent for their invoice for payment
  • Get a final repayment figure for any outstanding mortgage

You will need to:

  • Inform the relevant utility suppliers of your change of address and the date on which you’ll be moving
  • Take your meter readings on the completion day

Before completion you will also need to be aware of the following:

  • Don’t make a booking for your removals until we have confirmed exchange of contracts to you – otherwise you may incur a cancellation fee if dates change
  • If you are buying as well as selling try to book your removals for slightly later in the day – you will not be able to get access to your new home until the seller’s lawyer has received the completion money and depending on the bank system that can take a couple of hours

Completion

This is when you are required to move out of your home, regardless of whether the buyer is planning to move in the same day. The date will have been agreed prior to exchange of contracts.

In some cases, it is possible to exchange contracts and complete on the same day, providing all necessary arrangements for removals, and the amount required to repay any mortgage have been dealt with well in advance. However, the exchange of contracts and completion date are usually a few days apart.

If you are buying as well as selling, we will give you plenty of notice of the amount of money we will require from you in order to complete your move. In relation to your sale, more often than not, the sale price covers all the expenses of the sale, including the repayment of your mortgage, estate agent’s fees and our fees

Occasionally, there may be a shortfall, so before or at the exchange of contracts we will send you an itemised completion statement setting out the total amount due.

On the completion day, don’t hand over the keys to your house until you have checked with us that we have received all the money form the buyer’s lawyers.

If you need to leave your property before the buyers arrive then we suggest that you leave the keys with your estate agent. They will not release the keys to your buyer until we have told them that we have received all the money.