The buying or selling of property, can be one of the biggest steps you take in your life, and we believe it is your right to know exactly what is happening at every stage of the process. From experience we find that clients want a solicitor who can explain and take care of everything from start to finish, who they can telephone and speak to. Most of all, they want a solicitor they can trust to get the job done with minimum hassle.
It is said that moving house ranks up there alongside Death and Divorce as the three most stressful experiences in modern life. They say that it is worse than losing your job, your hair or anything else you can think of. The biggest source of that stress is the dreaded “chain” – a whole line of people itching to move at different times in different directions.
When moving house you need to be able to contact your solicitor: you need to know what is happening and why it is happening . You need to know what to do and when to do it. As a law Firm we recognise just how important this is to you.
And so the process begins ……
1. Seller puts house on Market
The estate agent who asks the cheapest commission and suggests the highest asking price for your property isn’t necessarily your best choice. What you want is an estate agent who is pro active in finding you a buyer. Buyers prefer firms which are established, courteous and efficient to those with high prices and low commissions for sellers. Estate agents who price their properties realistically are more popular with buyers.
When trying to select an Agent why not do some market research. Telephone an estate agent to see how they would persuade you to buy a house from them. Find out how many sales staff they have. Are they competent, qualified and pleasant to deal with? Is it easy to get through or is the phone permanently engaged? Do they return your calls?
2. Buyer finds dream home
Be critical. Look round carefully and take someone else with you. Check for damp, cracks, loose tiles and leaking pipes. If problems exist, you may not find out until it is too late. Take off those rose-tinted specs and see the house for what it is. Visit at different times of the day and night. Is the garden a short-cut for local school kids, football fans or dog walkers? Does the street fill with cars or revellers at night ? Are you on the flight path of an Airport?
3. Buyer makes offer
The estate agent may insist on you meeting their financial adviser before making an offer. You do NOT have to do so. Ask the estate agent if they would prefer you to make your offer direct to the seller yourself. Don’t offer more than you can afford. Speak to an independent financial adviser and find out how much money you can borrow on mortgage to buy your new home. Houses are expensive to maintain. Your dream home won’t be much fun if you have to live on lentils to pay for it the rest of your life.
4. Seller rejects offer
This is all part of the process
5. Buyer increases offer and seller accepts offer
The buyer need only increase the offer by a few pounds in some cases. It is an established negotiating formality. BEWARE ! No one has bought or sold anything yet – the whole thing could still fall through. If you are living in rented accommodation do not give notice to your landlord. Do not organise the removal van for a week on Tuesday. Yes, this is still a time for cautious celebration – but leave the champagne on ice for the time being.
- The seller may decide that they no longer want to sell
- The love-struck young home buyers might fall out of love
- The surveyor may discover the house is suffering from subsidence
- The solicitor may discover the house is built on top of a mineshaft
- Anything can happen!
If there is a chain involved, the risk increases according to the number of people in the chain
6. Estate agent suggests you appoint a solicitor
This really is a vital decision. Of course, we would say that, wouldn’t we – but get it wrong and you may be letting yourself in for one of life’s Three Most Stressful Experiences. If you’re happy with your existing solicitor, then stay with people you trust. It may be cheaper to go elsewhere or even to do it all yourself. More expensive is not necessarily better. But on the whole you get what you pay for.
Tens of thousands of pounds are at stake. If this whole sale goes wrong, it could go horribly wrong. Selling and buying houses isn’t rocket science, but you do need to know what you’re doing. Don’t decide who will do your conveyancing (that word again) on price alone. Whether you are selling or buying, arrange to see your solicitor as soon as possible. They need to know exactly what you want right from the start
7. Buyer tries to find a mortgage
There are some 2500 different types of mortgage. Just because you’ve always had a mortgage with the Ashby Bank doesn’t mean you always should. Shop around, talk to all banks and building societies. Or else get a good financial adviser. Many people think it wise to get a second or even third opinion before committing themselves.
8. Buyer gets a survey
Keep your fingers crossed. This is not the same thing as the local search
9. Everybody waits for everyone else
There has to some waiting: surveys don’t produce themselves, local searches are produced by local councils. Speedwise, some mortgage lenders can make a slug look like Michael Schumacher. Make sure you know exactly what your solicitor is waiting for. If you don’t know, ASK.
BEWARE: anyone can still pull out at any time for any reason.
10. Your solicitor asks you to sign the contract
Make sure you know exactly what you are signing for. Ask your solicitor to explain what the local search revealed, what the restrictive covenants are and the terms of your mortgage. Check the figures on the contract. Make sure the mortgage conditions are what you were expecting. Your solicitor will of course do this without being asked if you followed STEP SIX correctly
- Have your deposit ready if you are buying
- Decide when you would like to complete
- BEWARE: anyone can STILL pull out, even now that you have signed the contract.
11. Your solicitor exchanges contracts
CELEBRATE ! CELEBRATE ! You are very nearly there. If (which is very rare) any one pulls out after exchange of contracts you should be amply compensated. The deal is as good as done. You know just when you are going to be moving house.
Start saving boxes. Book your removal van. You now know the date you will be moving house. Contact the Gas and Electricity board, the Telephone people, the Post Office. Tell the Local Council. Tell everyone apart from those you do not want to know you are moving house – come on, this is a time to celebrate. You can even risk a mother -in-law joke.
12. Completion date
This is it. The big day. You are moving house. Your solicitor pays over the money and you collect the keys. You can really celebrate now. Unpack those boxes, put the kettle on, pour yourself a stiff drink, get your paintbrushes out. Do just whatever you want (well, within the law) because that dream house is now yours.