Although you have considerably fewer administrative tasks to attend to as a house seller than a house buyer, there are still a number of legal aspects to attend to in order to avoid serious delays.
Selling your property can be an extremely stressful time in your life, particularly if you are looking for a quick sale. Nevertheless, if you read through our conveyancing checklist for selling property below you can ensure the conveyancing process runs as smoothly as possible.
Agreeing to a sale
Naturally the first part of a house sale process is to find and negotiate with interested parties. Agreeing to a sale means you have agreed a fixed price for the property, setting the wheels in motion for finalising the particulars of the sale.
- Provide title deeds – If you hold your title deeds you must supply your property lawyer with these as soon as the sale has been agreed. The title deeds may also reside with your mortgage lender in which case your property lawyer should not need to bother you.
- Approve property information form – Your property lawyer will forward to you your seller’s property information form detailing everything to be included in the draft contract. This should be completed then checked and approved both by yourselves and the buyer’s solicitor.
- Avoid buyer ambiguities – The buyer’s solicitor will inform you of any questions and concerns regarding the property including its utilities and items to be included as part of the sale. It is helpful to have your last utility statements to hand as part of the sale process. This can be a useful financial guide for your buyer. By coming to an agreement at this early stage you iron out any potential buyer ambiguities and delays further down the line.
- Agree and sign draft contract – Whether or not you have instructed your property lawyer, he or she will provide you with a two-part draft contract to read and sign. This will outline the Particulars of Sale and Conditions of Sale concerning the property details and the proposed completion date. Once completed this will be sent to the buyer’s solicitor for action.
- Sign official contract – Once the draft contract has been approved at both ends the standard contracts will then be drawn up by your property lawyer and sent to you for signature. It's important to note that the house sale is not legally binding until the contracts have been exchanged.
Exchange of contracts
Once contracts have been exchanged the buyer is liable to lose their deposit if they back out. That’s why it is important to consider the following steps before exchanging contracts.
- Deposit – As soon as the contracts are exchanged your property lawyer will receive the buyer’s deposit (the pre-arranged amount to guarantee the home – usually around 10% of the property’s value, although it could be more).
- Transfer of deeds – Your property lawyer will also take charge of transferring the written deeds of the house to the new owners of the property.
- Liaise with lender – Depending on your circumstances you may need to contact your mortgage lenders to obtain a redemption figure for your existing mortgage. This is usually handled by your property lawyer.
On the eve of your date of completion it is recommended to contact your property lawyer to ensure all the necessary documentation is signed and sealed. The normal course of action on completion day is that the buyer’s solicitor will transfer the rest of the monies involved to the seller’s lawyer at the beginning of the day.
- A completed sale – The sale will only be rendered complete when your property lawyer receives the completion funds in full and you have vacated the property.
- Time – There is no guarantee when a completion will take place due to the unpredictable nature of banks, but most sales complete around lunchtime.
- House keys – Once the funds have reached your property lawyer you must ensure the last of your belongings are removed, the property is locked and you return the house keys to the estate agents who will release the keys to the new owners.
Read more about what happens on completion day.
If you are still unsure of any aspect of the selling process you should contact your conveyancer - they'll be able to tell you what's going on, what your next steps are, and if anything is holding the process up.
Updated August 2020