Although most of the work in the sale and purchase of a property is carried out by the buyer, there are still many ways in which sellers can make sure that completion happens as soon as possible.

A short transaction time is important because the majority of sales that fall through are ones that have dragged on. If the transaction is moving quickly, the buyer will have less incentive and thought about pulling out. 

Choose a pro-active conveyancer

As a seller, the primary role of your conveyancer is to handle queries from the buyer’s conveyancer and to make sure that the legal documents relating to the sale are sound and completed correctly.

However, a pro-active conveyancer will also anticipate the additional questions that the buyer might have and chase the buyer’s conveyancer regularly to make sure that searches, surveys and other work is progressing.

When you look to hire a conveyancer, you should consider their experience and personality. Someone without much experience may not have the courage to chase a more seasoned couterpart, and someone who is laid back may not see pushing for an early date for exchange of contracts as necessary. Many people choose a partner at a local firm of solicitors as their conveyancer, but you should be aware that conveyancing can done be done at distance just as easily, and that non-solicitor specialists known as Licensed Conveyancers also exist.

Anticipate what the survey might return

The results of the survey nearly always frighten the buyer, who is likely to expect that the property is in a far better state than it is. The survey is intended to pick up problems, and is often used as a bargaining tool to negotiate discounts.

You can reduce the number of questions you might be asked after the survey by anticipating them in advance and preparing answers and supporting evidence. Might there be woodworm in the rafters? Make sure you find the certificate that they have been treated. Possible damp in cellar? Take photographs to show that it is dry.

If these are likely to come up (perhaps they came up in your survey when you bought the property), then think about disclosing them before the survey. When the survey mentions them, the buyers will calmly accept that they already knew and will move to the next point.

If you don’t know whether possible problems will be caught by the survey, prepare the answers, but don’t give them to the other side until they ask.

If a problem is likely to stop the sale, you might get remedial work carried out before the survey, or better still, before you put the property on the market.

Anticipate other additional questions

The buyer may have other valid questions. You can prepare answers to some of these in advance as well.

They are likely to include:

  • Have you had any disputes with your neighbours?
  • Are there any noise issues?
  • Are there any issues around boundaries (such as party walls) or rights of access (known as easements)?
  • If you’ve had work done to the property, has it been done by a qualified professional?
  • Is any rent due (if you own a leasehold property) and what are the circumstances around collecting it?

These are questions that a survey can’t uncover, and that might take you time to prepare.

Be prepared to move

Unless you already own the property to which you’re moving, you’re likely to want to stay living in the property until the day of completion. Most people don’t think about packing the house until contracts have been exchanged (which is when the sale becomes certain).

However, there are lots of tasks that you can do in advance of moving. For example:

  • Make a list of all service providers and contact information so that when services need to be stopped, informing providers of your move isn’t labourious.
  • Sort out what you might take when you move from what will be binned. Even a small property can generate a number of loads of old junk to take to the tip, recycle or upcycle. The longest task when moving is sorting out what to take. A clearout before you move can reduce the time and stress of removals.
  • Pack up items that you don’t use often. Given that you haven’t used the tagine bowl you bought on holiday in Tunisia for 3 years, are you likely to use it in the next 6 weeks? Could you dismantle the flat-packable bed in the spare bedroom? If you’re taking light fittings with you, could you take these down and replace them? If you don’t like living with boxes, allocate one room (or a corner of a room) for storage.

With a little planning and work while the sale process is happening, you can reduce the time the transaction takes to go through.


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