Transactions, especially leasehold transactions, can often be delayed due to the various third parties involved, including search providers, local authority, landlords, landlord's solicitor, managing agent and lenders. Can these delays be reduced or avoided?
If you are selling a property and are hoping to exchange quickly, you may want to consider having the following documents readily available when the property is marketed. This will mean that your conveyancer will be ready to issue a contract and provide full information to a potential buyer without delay. Much of this information you will be able to obtain yourself:
- Copies of planning, building regulation and listed building consents.
- Copies of any indemnities, warranties and certificate relating to the property e.g. electrical, gas and FENSA certificates
- Title documents, including leases and any relevant deeds.
- Completed conveyancing protocol forms (being the property information form, leasehold information form and fittings and contents form).
- A recent mortgage redemption statement or mortgage account details, if the property is charged.
- An Energy Performance Certificate.
- A set of property searches – although this generally a cost incurred by the buyer (and can typically cost circa £600). If the buyer is obtaining a mortgage, they are likely going to need these dated within 6 months of completion.
In addition, if the property is leasehold:
- Copies of licences for alterations.
- A full management pack, including the Landlord's Certificate (if available and required under the Building Safety Act 2022).
- A completed Leaseholder Deed of Certificate – if required under the Building Safety Act 2022.
- The landlord's requirements for the assignment of the lease, including confirmation of all fees payable and any requirements for the buyer (eg references, rent deposit deed, etc).
What are the advantages and disadvantages of this approach?
There are of course pros and cons to obtaining this information in advance. Whilst it may seem beneficial to have it all ready, in practice you may wish to wait until a sale is agreed before actioning a few of these, as there is no guarantee an acceptable offer will be made in a timely manner.
For example, if the management pack is issued too far ahead of a sale being agreed, an updated management pack may be required, resulting in additional costs being incurred. The costs of management packs vary depending on the landlord/managing agent, but generally are in excess of £100 (and sometimes considerably more). Similarly, if the Land Registry title register is several months old, it is likely that the buyer's solicitor will require updated title documents – although the costs of these are minimal.
Planning and communication are key
We would strongly recommend choosing and speaking to your conveyancer at the same time as preparing the property for market rather than waiting until you have found a buyer. The conveyancer will be able to help you prepare a full set of information for your potential buyer and make decisions about if and when to apply for more costly items such as management packs and searches. Preparing the sales pack in advance will also give you and your conveyancer more time to iron out any legal issues which become apparent before they are raised by a buyer, causing delays in the sale process.
We often work with agents in preparing sales particulars to ensure that they are accurate before the property is put on the market. This helps avoid any unexpected surprises and leads the way to a smoother transaction. Proper planning prevents poor performance - and this applies just as much to the conveyancing process as anything else.