Questions Questions Questions! – Property Sale Conveyancing Process Explained
If we are instructed on the sale of your property, we’re going to be asking you a lot of questions about it.
We’re going to need to have a great deal of information about the property, what’s in it, under it and around it. This is because the solicitor acting for the people buying your property will want to know as much about it as they can before they commit themselves to the transaction.
So what kinds of things do we need to know?
Well to start with, we want to know about the property itself. If it’s a house, we’ll ask about things like boundary fences, and who is responsible for maintaining them. If you’ve had any flooding or subsidence issues and whether your property is connected to the mains or if you have a cess pit.
You also need to tell us about things like rights of way. So perhaps if your neighbours have the right to access their garage by walking over your garden, then that could be a right of way, and the new owners should know about it in advance.
We’ll need information about whether it’s a listed building and/or in a conservation area and we’ll ask about any problems with the property such as notices you might have been served with or any disputes you have with neighbours. Don’t worry, simply disapproving of their taste in garden ornaments doesn’t amount to a dispute unless you’ve been throwing them at each other!
Then you’ll need to tell us about what (if anything) you are leaving with the property such as curtains and carpets. You should also tell us about any fixtures and fittings you are leaving behind. Sometimes the new owner will want those items (or might think they are included in the price) so if you take them with you, without it being clear to the new owner that they were not part of the deal, they might think they can make a claim for the loss of the value of that item. Other times you might be intending to leave something behind, which the new people don’t want, and then they’ll have to pay to remove it, in which case they may say that they are going to pursue you for the cost of disposing of that item. So it’s better to be up front at the outset, and be clear about what you are leaving and what you are taking. Also, make sure you tell us if anything has changed, such as if you are taking something you were going to leave or vice versa. Once we’ve exchanged contracts, you may not be able to change your mind, but we’ll do our best to sort it out for you.
We’ll also want to know about any alterations that you’ve had done to the property, such as extensions, new windows or upgrades to the boiler or electrics. If so, we might need more information, such as any guarantees from the tradesman who did the work, so if the new owners have any problems, they know who to ask. So you might want to start looking out any paperwork you may have relating to any works you’ve had done at the property or anything that you were given by the last owners when you bought the property.
What if you can’t find all the paperwork?
Don’t worry, there are ways in which we can deal with this. For example, if you had windows installed by a FENSA regulated builder, then FENSA should have a copy of the certificate for your windows. You will be able to contact FENSA directly and they will provide you with a replacement certificate.
If the paperwork cannot be found or replaced, then we will simply explain this to the purchasers, and see what they want to do about it. If it’s something very minor, such as one replacement window, they may not be worried, but if it relates to something expensive (such as if you’ve had a swimming pool installed, and the company that installed it have gone broke and there is no guarantee over the works they did) then the purchasers might want a reduction in the price, or might want you to buy a replacement insurance policy.
How do we collect all of this information from you?
We’ll it’s quite simple. Solicitors have been doing this for so long that we have pre prepared forms that we will send to you, for you to fill in as best you can and send back to us with any supporting paperwork such as guarantees for the windows you had installed. All sellers (so you and anyone who owns the property with you) should be satisfied they are correct, and should sign and return them to us. You need to get them back to us as soon as possible, as the purchasers solicitors won’t start looking at the file until they have all of the information from us, and these forms are not something that we fill in for you, although we’ll help you as much as we can if you get stuck.
Then there are more questions.
Sometimes, once the purchasers’ solicitors have been through everything, had all the official searches in on the property (such as the local authority search) and received the survey, they might have more questions. For example, the surveyor might raise something in the survey about the property, such as whether a wall has been taken down, or when was a fireplace removed, and they might want more information about who did it, and when. We’ll pass the questions on to you, and you’ll need to let us have your input.
We don’t expect you to know everything.
Sometimes clients cannot answer all of our questions. It might be that you simply don’t remember, or it might relate to something that happened before you owner the property. You might be selling the property on behalf of someone else, such as an elderly relative, in which case you’re obviously not going to know all the answers. This is absolutely fine. The important thing is to be completely honest with us.
If you don’t know, then just say “don’t know” on the form, and the purchaser will have to make their own enquiries or decide for themselves whether the answer to that particular question is important to them. Mind you, you shouldn’t say that if you do know, because if you make them go to a lot of trouble to find things out, it could put them off going ahead with the purchase, so tell us everything you can.
If there is a problem with the property, such as a neighbour dispute, or a damp problem, then you should tell all about it at the outset. If you don’t tell us, and the purchaser goes ahead and buys the property and then finds the problem that you knew about, they can take you to court and claim compensation. That can end up being really expensive for you. It’s much better to be straight with us, and we’ll advise you on the best way to handle it.
It might sound like a lot to deal with, but once you get the forms you’ll see that it’s actually quite straight forward and remember we’re always at the end of a phone if you need any guidance from us.
Disclaimer – our articles are designed to give you guidance and information. There is no substitute for proper direct advice, particularly as everyone’s circumstances are different. If anything in this article may affect you, please contact us for advice that is specific to your circumstances.