Insider advice from Mark Mugliston, Residential Sales Manager, in his monthly column in the Diss Express.
The excitement of a price being agreed for the sale of your house can sometimes quickly subside if you’re not prepared for the next and crucial stage – the completion. It’s when the legal formalities begin, and although estate agents have little influence at this stage, there are some useful tips we can pass on.
We will always try to help anyone involved in the chain by conveying information that hopefully will reduce stress levels and bring everything to a satisfactory conclusion.
Once the deal to purchase has been agreed, it is the buyers responsibility to give their chosen solicitor formal instructions to handle the purchase of their home and to pay for local searches and other costs relating to investigating the title of the property. If they are having a survey it’s a good idea to make sure that’s paid for and booked as soon as possible; ideally all of these things should happen within 7-10 days of the sale being agreed.
It’s the sellers responsibility to give their own solicitor formal instructions to act and to complete and return to the client questionnaire, sometimes also known as ‘preliminary enquiries’.
The legal work begins with the seller’s solicitor, who applies for the deeds from the lender and obtains the title plan from the Land Registry. Once they have these and the client questionnaire, the solicitor then prepares a draft contract, which is sent to the buyer’s solicitor who can then apply for the searches and inspect the draft contract.
The solicitors then work on any legal questions between them, eventually agreeing on all the details in the contract and making sure the sale or purchase is legally secure.
Who is your Point of Contact throughout the sale?
Buyers and sellers should maintain contact with their solicitor now that legal work has commenced. They ‘re responsible for agreeing any exchange and completion dates with other parties and to prepare the contract for signing.
It’s important to keep the estate agent advised of relevant information, which could affect other parties involved in the chain. We can co-ordinate and liaise with any other agents involved and they can communicate progress with their own clients.
One point often forgotten is that in readiness for exchange of contracts and completion, both buyers and sellers should notify utilities such as gas, electric, water, phone and the local authority of the completion date.
It’s also handy to confirm the completion date with your removal company. Normally you reserve a date, but only pay a deposit once exchange has taken place.
The buyer must ensure that any additional money, including the deposit, is available for the day of completion, it will normally be placed on a holding account with the solicitor at exchange. I’ve seen many a transaction delayed because the deposit hasn’t been moved in a timely fashion.
If an anticipated date for exchange of contracts has been suggested at the time of agreeing the sale, this will help to focus attention on a likely date, but shouldn’t be relied upon as guaranteed.
Prior to exchange of contracts and completion, take care when considering arrangements for booking removals or planning time off work that the exchange and completion is assured. This will avoid unnecessary pressures for all concerned at this critical point in the process.
Day of Completion
The seller should provide the estate agent with all keys to the property. On the day of completion, the estate agent is unable to release the keys to the buyers until authorised by the seller’s solicitor following receipt of the completion money.
Moving to completion can appear complicated but a reputable estate agent is always there to help guide you through the process.