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In the interest of full disclosure, this list is what I often bring up with my vendors in the West Essex area (Woodford, Chigwell, Buckhurst Hill, Loughton, Theydon Bois, Epping & Abridge) to help expedite their sales. Not every vendor chooses to follow every tip on the list but those that have found it extremely beneficial with the reduced timescales helping them to exchange and complete months sooner than “normal”.
Never before has it be so critical to a successful sale for estate agents, solicitors and the plethora other professions involved in your sale to work together to get your move across the finish line.
Below are my tried and tested tips that will supercharge your sale and get you in the position to exchange and complete around 3 months faster that is “usual”at the present time of writing (1st March 2021 - Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday expires on 31st March 2021 and the local authorities are struggling to return local searches in time).
And yes - it is mostly PAPERWORK related. I know it's boring and you want to get on with putting your house on the market and carrying out viewings. Yet, like selling a car with full service history, if you haven't got your ducks in a row you'll find a buyer delays making a decision until more information is available. Many buyers of a property will spend months going the the process of discovery from mortgage and homebuyers surveys to having a review of the legal documentation - most of which they only see for the first time when the solicitor asks them to review the contract and sign it. The more information supplied up front, the more transparent the sale and the quicker it'll proceed.
Once you have a buyer, having the following matters packaged and ready to go for your purchaser will dramatically increase the speed at which you will be in a position to exchange and confirm a mutually agreeable completion date.
- Gather your paperwork. Obvious, right? Have you done it? Save yourself a couple of weeks of turfing out every drawer in the house in search of what you thought you had put away for safe keeping and is now so safe that even you can’t locate it. Do it now and you’ll be glad you did when the contract goes out to your buyer the same day your sale is agreed. [Save 1-2 weeks]
- Ensure your home complies with current legislation/building regulations, or complied at the time of completion of works. We’re talking extensions, new windows, septic tanks, gas, electrics, rights of way, etc. If you have completely misplaced this vital documentation, you can check various websites to find copies of your certificates; FENSA for windows; Gas Safe for boiler/heating installs, NICEIC for electrical work name but a few.
- Instruct your solicitor before we’ve found you a buyer. This gives you an early opportunity to establish a rapport with your solicitor and test that when crunch time comes that they’ll be able to perform as expected. I have several tried and tested solicitors I recommend. What I look for most in a solicitor is their ability to communicate by your preferred method of contact and respond in a timely manner above all else. This will also save time in filling out the relevant forms required to instruct your solicitor, provide them with copies of your ID and for them to compile responses to standard enquiries ready to send out with the contract to the buyer’s solicitor. If you haven't yet decided on a solicitor, at least attempt to complete Law Society Property Information Form (TA6), Law Society Fixtures and Contents Form (TA10) and if leasehold, Law Society Leasehold Information Form (TA7). [Save 2-3 weeks]
- Apply for local authority searches on your own home and sell them to your buyer’s solicitor. At the time of writing, this is the single greatest and longest cause of delays to practically every sale. Epping Forest District Council normally quote a 5 week [25 working days] turnaround between your buyers’ application and their provision of the local search to their solicitor. At present, with this extreme level of demand we’re finding it’s not uncommon for that lead-time to become 8-9 weeks. Historically, buyers could apply for personal searches to reduce this delay. Yet, in 2021 the lenders are becoming ever more authoritative over what is required for them to agree to lend and the official search from the local authority is something they generally want to satisfy their criteria. You can sell these to your buyer’s solicitor at cost price once you have agreed a sale. [Save 8-9 weeks]
- Pre-empt known issues arising and have quotes in place. We’re talking about the big things; damp, Japanese knotweed, subsidence, etc. These are issues that will be cited on even as basic a survey as a mortgage valuation. Obtaining quotes now when you have the time to shop around and get the best price/service will help negotiations post-survey, if required. [Save 2-4 weeks]
- Get quotes from removal companies. Quotes will vary greatly dependent on where you’re moving to, how far you’re moving and whether you’ll be placing your possessions in to storage at any point. Ensure your removal company has the appropriate insurances to cover your possessions. Traditionally, this is done when you are nearing an exchange of contracts but then of course, you’re under pressure to make a decision and place a deposit. Do it once you have agreed a sale and you’ll have more breathing room to make a decision, obtain several quotes and pick and choose the best option for your needs. [Save 1-2 weeks]
Bonus Hacks for Leasehold / Share of Freehold Properties.
- Speak to the Managing Agent of your building and ask about requesting the “leasehold pack”. This is also why solicitors charge more to sell a leasehold property compared to a freehold property. There is more work involved and it takes longer. Your buyers’ solicitor needs to comb through the leasehold pack to check the building in which your leasehold property is situated is being maintained correctly. [Save 2-6 weeks - it depends on the efficacy of the managing agent]
As an estate agent, this is often seen as beyond our remit. Yet, it is become part of my service to vendor clients to help get them "sale ready" and to expedite their sales as soon as a buyer is found.
Are you thinking of selling a property in East London / West Essex areas?
Have you got any questions?
Lyttons Estate Agents Ltd
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I am delighted to announce that Lyttons Estate Agents won the Best Estate Agency category at Property Reporter Awards 2020 for Best Estate Agency!
Thank you to the judges for your kinds words about us and our fellow finalists; Barrows & Forrester Property Group & Strutt & Parker
“Communication and customer experience are key […] this shines in their testimonials”
“They understand community is an important part of engaging […] customers”
“Professionalism and integrity”
Many thanks to Mortgage Advice Bureau for your sponsorship of the Best Estate Agency category at #PRA20.
Thank you to the National Landlords Association for your sponsorship of the Property Reporter Awards.
You can view who else succeeded at this years awards by clicking here;
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On behalf of the property sector and our customers who are in the process of selling and purchasing a property, I seek to impress upon you the importance of extending the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday deadline to avoid the breakdown in property chains and provide more time for our customers to complete their property transactions.
Delays are beyond our customers’ control
Pent-up demand from Brexit and Lockdown has created a surge of activity in the housing market since reopening in May 2020. The Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, as well as the termination of the existing Help to Buy Scheme added further fuel to the fire, with people who perhaps weren’t in a rush to move, bringing forward their plans to find a new home. As a result of the pent-up demand and sense of urgency created in the market with people pushing to get their transactions completed by the deadline, despite the property market being in lockdown for two months, the overall volumes of transactions are expected to be greater than those seen last year.
Currently, conveyancers are dealing with record volumes of transactions, which has delayed the process. Mortgage applications, surveys and local searches are also all taking significantly longer as a result of the high volumes of transactions. There have been reports that pipeline conversions (exchange of contracts) in recent months are as low as 9%, they should be triple that. This is resulting in more and more sales that are stagnating and not progressing, with the average property transaction time lengthening from 12 weeks to 20 weeks.
The industry does not have the capacity to deal with the volumes of transactions that need to be processed within the timeframe of the deadline. According to Zoopla, there are around 140,000 more people waiting to complete sales compared with this time last year, however, only a quarter of transactions (based on sales agreed in January 2021) will complete by 31 March 2021. Data from TwentyCI reveals that approximately 325,000 buyers with a Sale Agreed from September 2020 to January 2021 will miss out on the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday.
Our customers should not be penalised as a result of the delays currently being experienced within the sector that are beyond their control. A delay that could result in our customers having to pay up to an additional £15,000, most likely out the funds attributed to their deposit, on the purchase of their property
Breakdown in property chains
Another concern is that buyers will continue to offer on properties expecting to benefit from the Stamp Duty Land Tax rate reduction but in reality, they may already be too late. Failure to complete transactions before 31 March 2021 could see the breakdown of chains with buyers potentially financially unable to continue with the purchase, as they would not have budgeted for the additional expense of paying Stamp Duty Land Tax. An extension would ensure that many more transactions would be able to complete without the risk of falling through.
Additionally, significant stress will be removed from all parties involved, especially for the surveyors, conveyancers and lenders who bear the brunt of their customers’ demands. It will also save money that would be lost if the transaction falls through. Money that would have been spent on things during the property buying process such as surveys, searches and the like will also be lost if the property falls through.
Extension of the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday
We urge the Government to consider extending the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday by a further six months to reduce the risk to the consumer. We also propose that the Government work with the industry to develop a method to help smooth the end of an extended Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday to prevent a cliff edge in the property market.
Swift action by the Government will ease the pressure on both our customers and the industry, allowing more transactions to complete, avoiding possible break downs in property chains and a distressing period for movers. Any extension or gradual phasing of the Stamp Duty Land Tax would also assist in lessening a possible sharp decline in consumer demand, which would have a knock-on effect on the greater economy. The housing market is intrinsically tied to the economy’s health with home movers spending £12 billion a year on home-related purchases excluding property purchase and transaction costs. Moving home has many advantages to other aspects of the economy, so action taken by the Government to energise the property market will have a positive impact on the financial health of the country as a whole.
Lyttons Estate Agents Ltd
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At Lyttons, we were thrilled to be nominated and subsequently awarded two accolades from BUILD Magazine’s Property & Real Estate Awards 2020 for “Estate Agency of the Year 2020 – Essex” and “BUILD Customer Service Excellence Award – Essex 2020”.
We were very humbled by the judge’s decision and thank our generous clients for the praiseworthy feedback about the service they had received from our estate agency from both buyers and sellers that helped us secure these awards.
It’s wonderful when we strive to deliver the best buying and selling experience and to have our efforts recognised independently.
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If you were thinking of buying or selling a property to take advantage of the stamp duty break, expiring on the 31st March 2021, you had better get a move on.
It has been widely reported that agents, lenders, brokers, solicitors, removal companies and many associated professions are under strain due to the surge in demand resulting from Rishi Sunak’s stamp duty break.
This has subsequently increased property transaction lengths from the usual 10-14 weeks between a sale having been agreed to exchange of contracts, to the predicted increased length of 19-20 weeks - nearly 5 months!
If you secure a buyer in the next 7 weeks i.e. by mid-November 2020, this will allow you the better part of 19 weeks (and a couple of days) to complete before the stamp duty break window closes.
Top 5 Tips to sell before the stamp duty break ends;
- Show you are serious from the start – begin marketing your home with a realistic asking price. Now is not the time to try a speculative higher price.
- Paperwork – have all the relevant documents ready to hand to your solicitor the second a sale has been agreed. Time spent finding documents can cause undue delays.
A copy of the lease (if the property is leasehold)
Documentation related to the freehold (if it’s a freehold property)
FENSA certificates for replacement windows less
Your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
Relevant building restrictions
Building regulation certificate where alterations have taken place
A Gas Safety certificate for a new boiler or servicing of a boiler
NICEIC certificate for electrical installations
- Professional photos and floor plans – we always employ a specialist photographer to take outstanding photos. Prepare your house accordingly and try your best to keep it looking it’s best throughout marketing.
- Consider Covid – under the new guidelines agents and viewers will be wearing masks, social distancing and we advise sellers to leave the property whilst we carry out viewings. Keep a bag of cleaning products to hand so that after each viewing you can wipe down those high traffic areas like door handles and cupboard doors. Open windows to allow fresh air to flow.
- Will you chain break? If you have a buyer who is ready to exchange on your property, we would advise you don’t keep them waiting. Consider moving in with family or renting to aid in chain breaking where possible. This can be the difference between selling and an entire chain falling foul of extended timescales caused by increased demand.
If you are selling or thinking of selling your home, please call us today on 01992 666 191.