Buyers’ advice: how to speed up the sale

Now that Home Information Packs (HIPs) are mandatory for almost all property sales, vendors are getting the hang of preparing the groundwork prior to putting a house on the market. But we should all go further, recommends Bertie Hoskyns-Hall, partner at Withers.

1.    Reply to enquiries in anticipation of them being asked.  It often takes the wind out of a buyer’s solicitor’s sails to provide full replies to enquiries right at the outset.  In addition, the process can throw up issues which you can follow through and solve before they get raised in negotiations against you.
2.    Update any tenancy agreements or employment contracts that affect the property, and formalise grazing agreements and horse livery arrangements.  These are often best dealt with before a sale becomes public knowledge because tenants can become difficult if they know a sale is imminent.
3.    Make sure documentation is to hand. One of the principal delays to negotiations can be planning permissions, building certificates and guarantees for work that has been done.  Spending some time before marketing the property seeking out these troublesome pieces of paper can pay dividends in the long run.  A buyer’s solicitor is likely to scrutinise the documents more closely if there are obviously some missing.
4.    Scrutinise sale plans carefully. The seller’s agent will produce a plan of the property from the particulars of sale.  It is absolutely essential that this plan is compared and checked off against the title plan for the property before the particulars go to print.  This is particularly important if the seller is only selling part of the property that they own, and it can focus the mind in relation to any shared services that will need to be documented in the written agreements.

All of the above documents can be put together in a ring binder along with a draft contract and transfer prepared by the seller’s solicitor.  (The transfer is normally drafted by the buyer’s solicitor).  This has the advantage of looking organised from the buyer’s perspective and puts the seller in a strong position to demand a very quick time-frame for exchange of contracts.

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