Selling a property should be a very straightforward process and once you have found a purchaser, your solicitor should be able to get you from “Sold” to “Sale completed” as quickly as possible.
We’ve split the procedure into 8 steps and they’re set out below.
You decide to put your house on the market. The first step here is to engage an estate agent. They’ll be able to give you an approximate value for the house and the sale price that you’re likely to reach. Depending on their advice, you might decide to put the house up for auction. If this happens, the sale is completed at a public auction and the contracts are signed there and then. The sale will usually complete shortly after the auction date.
In most cases the property will be sold by way of private sale. This means that your estate agent will advertise the property to the public and will conduct viewings.
It’s a good idea at this stage to try and foresee what a potential purchaser might think about during their viewing. Clients who contact us at the viewing stage always download our Viewing Checklist so that they know what to look out for during the viewing. By going through this checklist as a vendor you can get the property ready for viewing in the most comprehensive way possible.
Download our Viewing Checklist HERE.
When someone places a bid that you’re happy with, the property will go “SALE AGREED”. Here’s where your solicitor comes in.
So, you’ve gone Sale Agreed – great! What’s next? The first thing that your solicitor will do is send you a long questionnaire which you’ll have to complete. It’s going to have various questions that will provide your solicitor with enough information to help them begin the process. Most of the information will involve things that you know about the property, including the following:-
- What services are in place? Is the property connected to the mains drainage or is there some other means of getting water? Some older properties may have a sewerage tank on the property.
- Have you ever carried out any building works or added an extension? This will help your solicitor know what kinds of documents regarding planning will have to be provided to the purchaser’s solicitor.
- Whether there are any rights of way over the property. You might need to drive over someone else’s property in order to access your own property. It’s important for your solicitor to know about this so they can fully inform the purchaser.
By completing this questionnaire as comprehensively as possible, you can help ensure that your solicitor has all of the information needed to prepare the contracts as quickly as possible.
You can download a copy of this questionnaire HERE
Get your conveyancing quote HERE.
In addition to the information provided by you, your solicitor will also have to review the title documents to the property. “Title Documents” is the name given to the documents that show you as the owner of the property. They will also include documents relating to planning and details of taxes and other information that relates to the property.
If you have a mortgage on the property, the title deeds will be held by your mortgage bank and will be kept in their vaults. Mortgage companies keep the title deeds until your mortgage is fully paid off. When you are selling the property, you won’t be paying off the mortgage until the sale has completed and the purchaser has paid over the purchase monies. But your solicitor will still need the title deeds to prepare the contracts and send them to the purchaser’s solicitor.
So, in order to assist with this, your solicitor will ask you to sign a letter addressed to your mortgage bank. This letter confirms that you are happy for the bank to release the title deeds to your solicitor so that the contracts can be prepared. Your solicitor will then send this letter to your bank together with their own letter, confirming that they will look after the deeds until the mortgage is paid off.
The next part of the process involves lots of paperwork. Your solicitor will prepare contracts and send them out to the purchaser’s solicitor who may want to ask questions about the property or have some matters clarified. Your solicitor will deal with the questions and may need to go back to you to get some more information to help with the answers.
Once the purchaser’s solicitor is happy, they will arrange for the purchaser to sign the contracts and return them to your solicitor with the contract deposit. The deposit will usually amount to 10% of the purchase price LESS the booking deposit that has been paid to the estate agent at the outset of the transaction.
Your solicitor will lodge this money to their client account and hold if there until the transaction has fully completed. They will then arrange for you to sign the contracts and will then return one of the contracts to the purchaser’s solicitor. The sale is then legally binding.
The next step involves your bank again. Your purchaser will want to take the property free of any charges or mortgages. This means that your mortgage must be fully paid off on the closing date. The “Closing Date” is the name given to the date when the sale completes ie when the purchaser pays over the balance of the purchase monies and, in return, they receive the keys to the property.
Your solicitor will ask your bank for confirmation of the balance of the mortgage that must be paid off on the closing date. This sum must be paid from the purchase monies before you receive any payment.
Your solicitor will also check to see if there any other bills or monies due on the property. These might include things like electricity bills, a tax called “Local Property Tax” or any other charges that are unpaid. These will be paid out of the purchase monies too and your solicitor will confirm to the purchaser’s solicitor that a receipt for each bill will be provided after the closing once they have been fully paid.
The final part of this step involves more paperwork. You will have to sign the documents that formally transfer ownership of the property to the purchaser in return for the purchase monies. These documents will be kept by your solicitor and handed over on the closing date.
This step involves the Closing Date. Your solicitor and the purchaser’s solicitor will meet to finalise the sale. Your solicitor will hand over the transfer documents that you have signed. They will also hand over any planning details or other documents that the purchaser will need together with letters confirming that they will pay off the mortgage and any other outstanding debts due on the property.
In return, the purchaser’s solicitor will hand over the purchase monies to your solicitor who will lodge them to their client account together with the contract deposit which has already been paid.
The keys are then handed over to the purchaser’s solicitor and the sale is officially completed.
Once the closing date comes and goes, your solicitor still has work to do. Firstly, they must pay off the mortgage to your bank together with any other bills that are outstanding. A receipt for each debt is provided and your solicitor will forward these receipts to the purchaser’s solicitor as agreed at the closing date.
Your solicitor will then get in touch with the estate agent to let them know that the sale has fully completed. It is at this stage that the estate agent will get paid. In the normal course, they will get your permission to take their fee out of the booking deposit which was paid to them at the very outset of the transaction. Once their fee has been deducted, any money left over from the booking deposit is usually sent on to your solicitor so they can pay the full amount out to you. Your solicitor will then take their fee out of the monies they hold and the balance (called the “Net Sales Proceeds”) is then paid out to you and the transaction is fully complete.
What we’ve set out above is the general procedure for the sale of a property. Different things can crop of during the transaction and your solicitor will explain each stage of the process and anything new that needs to be done.
Have any questions about the procedure for selling a house? Request a callback by completing the form below.
Download the vendor’s questionnaire HERE
Download our Viewing Checklist HERE
Get your conveyancing quote HERE
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