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Sale of a Residential Property

What is involved in a sale?

The precise details of what is involved in the sale of a property will vary according to the type of property being sold, where it is located, who is involved, whether it is freehold or leasehold and whether or not there is a related purchase. The following, however, provides an idea as to the main steps that will be carried out on your behalf.

There are three main stages to the legal process of selling a property. These are:

  • The pre-contract stage – what we do before you commit to selling the property;
  • The post-contract stage – what we need to do to make sure that ownership is transferred to the purchaser of your property; and
  • The post-completion stage – completing outstanding issues after you have completed the sale.

We will always make sure that you know what is happening and when things need to be done by you.

The pre-contract stage

During the pre-contract stage:

  • We will start by taking your instructions for us to act for you in connection with your sale. This needs to be as soon as possible after someone has offered to buy your property or – if your sale is linked to the purchase of another property – as soon as you have found a property to purchase so that we can carry out any preliminary work in readiness for a sale.
  • We will need to know where the documents for your property are. We will also need to know whether you have a mortgage to be paid off and whether you are buying another property. We are also required to ask for evidence of your identity so that we can comply with the strict money laundering duties the law places upon us.
  • We will normally be contacted by your estate agent on your sale and they will have provided us with details of the purchasers of your property and their solicitor/conveyancer. If no agent is involved, you will need to supply us with that information.
  • Where you are selling a leasehold property, we will advise you as to any specific duties there are such as notifying the landlord.
  • Where your property is owned jointly, we will ensure that you are advised as to any issues that arise.
  • When we have the documents to your property, we will prepare a contract and send it, together with any accompanying documents, to the solicitor/conveyancer for the purchaser of your property. The contract is the document that sets out details of the property being sold and the terms upon which you are selling it.
  • The buyer’s solicitor/conveyancer will go through the contract and documents, carry out searches and ask questions – called pre-contract enquiries – about the property which we may need you to help us to answer. Unless they are answered satisfactorily the sale might not go ahead. Those question might relate to the utilities that affect the property, planning and issues that could affect the property such as mining, flooding or subsidence.
  • When the solicitor/conveyancer for the purchaser of your property is satisfied that your property is satisfactory from a legal standpoint, and they are happy to go ahead, we will ask you to sign one copy of the contract. We will then “exchange contracts” – in other words enter into a binding agreement to sell the property to the purchaser. You should note that the timing of this might be dependent upon any related purchase that you have or on the ability of the person buying from you to exchange on their related sale.
  • Normally you will agree when the contracts are exchanged the date when the sale will be completed – that is to say when the property ceases to be yours – known as the “completion date”.
  • Normally a deposit will be paid to you on exchange of contracts - usually 10% of the purchase price. Note that sometimes, however, you may be asked to accept a lesser sum if, for example, the purchaser is obtaining a 95% mortgage or has had to accept a reduced deposit from his or her purchaser.
  • The deposit is a way of showing that the purchaser intends to go ahead with the purchase and will be forfeited if they pull out of the transaction after contracts have been exchanged. For that reason, you may want to insist on the full 10% – but do bear in mind this could mean that the transaction does not go ahead.

The post-contract stage

After contracts have been exchanged,

  • we will begin the work leading up to the completion of the sale. This usually includes approving the transfer document (which will be drafted by the purchaser’s solicitor), getting a redemption figure for any mortgage on your property and making sure that everyone else in the transaction is ready to proceed.
  • If we are happy with the transfer document, we will get you to sign it in readiness for completion.
  • We will then calculate the financial details and we will either inform you of how much you will be receiving from the sale or, if there is a related purchase, how much over and above the sale price and mortgage funds (if any) we need to complete the related purchase and then get that balance of money from you. That sum will include any other payments we still need to make such as the land registration fee and any stamp duty land tax.
  • On completion day we will, if there are no other problems, receive the balance of purchase money from the purchaser’s solicitor and send them any deeds and documents relating to the property. We will liaise with you over this so that you can make appropriate arrangements to hand over the keys to the property to the purchaser.
  • Bear in mind that until such time as the money is received by us that the purchaser cannot move into the property and you should not let them do so until we tell you it is safe.

Post-completion stage

After completion has taken place,

  • We will pay off any outstanding mortgage from the proceeds of sale and account to you for any balance which is due.
  • If you are purchasing another property will carry out the remaining purchase tasks.
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