When buying or selling property people say it is the most stressful thing you can do in a lifetime. You would always expect a certain amount of stress when dealing with such a large transaction but what can we do to make the process a little better?
Almost everyone that has either sold or bought a property will have a horror story of the process and normally it always come down to how long it has taken.
Having been in the industry some 23 years I think there is a fair argument to say choosing the right estate agent and the right conveyancer really can lower the stress levels and the speed of which the transaction goes through. Equally, there are some useful tips that as a buyer or seller that can be done to help the process move more quickly that we will look at later.
Like Estate Agents, there are some exceptional conveyancing firms out there and equally some really poor ones so here are some useful questions to ask when choosing your conveyancer.
How quickly will you get my initial papers out after I instruct you?
This really is key as nothing can happen in your transaction until all papers are returned and then they can send papers to the other side to get things moving. Some lawyers can take up to a week or even longer to do this which is already a week without anything happening.
If your conveyancer is off, who will be working on your file?
This can be a big problem, if a conveyancer takes a few days off will your file be worked on by someone else in the firm. So many times, I hear stories of conveyancers being away on holiday and nobody is working on your file, let’s say they are off for a week then we now already have a 2-week delay.
How does your conveyancer ask and reply to initial enquiries?
This is key, in the modern world of email, most enquiries can be raised by email. Some conveyancers however still insist on dictating a letter, getting a secretary to type it and then send it out by post and then will insist on reply via post. In most cases this really is not needed and again adds days to the whole process. Obviously legal documents like the contract need to be via post but asking questions about consent for a conservatory for example can be done via email.
The main thing is communication, your conveyancer is working for you and within reason should be doing everything in their power to work to a sensible time frame. Big firms cannot always be the best as you can become a parcel in a factory working your way down the line. A lot of times your file will be dealt with by a legal administrator, and only passed onto the conveyancer to be signed off. These firms are normally much cheaper but actually speaking to the same person twice doesn’t happen. Equally, a smaller firm can have its own problems if they are off as stated above.
So, best thing to do is to phone and speak to the actual conveyancer with the above questions and you will get a feel as to if they are right.
Things you can do to help speed up the process:
Selling a property
Instruct your solicitor at the point of putting your property on the market. This will save so much time as they can get all the initial paperwork out to you and you can fill it in and send it back so you are ready once a buyer is in place.
Leasehold Property – even more important that you instruct your solicitor at the time of putting your property on the market. When selling a leasehold property, you will need to pay and request for your management pack by the leaseholder. This has been known to take at least 4 weeks to come through so will cause a huge delay if you wait until a buyer is found. Your conveyancer will be able to order this for you.
Act fast on any questions your conveyancer has raised with you regarding your property sale. The quicker you answer them the quick your conveyancer can send them back to your buyer’s solicitor.
Buying a property
Again, get your paperwork back as soon as possible. Pay for your searches as soon as possible, your conveyancer wont order these until you have paid for them. Some areas can take up to three weeks to get searches back so pay your solicitor for these at the very start. If you are taking a mortgage out on the property, make sure your application is in within 48/72 hours of having your offer accepted. The whole mortgage process can take anywhere between a week and 8 weeks to complete so again, do this early.
There is no set time frame as to how long a property transaction should take as there are many things to factor in such as length of chains etc. However, sticking to the above really should help the process along.
If you are thinking of selling and want any help or advise then please feel free to drop me a line, firstname.lastname@example.org