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How to be as prepared as possible during the home selling process

Ex-residential property conveyancer and founder of the Bold Legal Group, Rob Hailstone, shares his advice and tips...

As this is my first time as a guest blogger for Winkworth, I thought a brief potted history of my working life might be helpful. I began my legal career back in the mid-1970s and worked as a conveyancer for 30 plus years, based in the South West. In 2005, I got involved in Home Information Packs (please don’t hold that against me!) as I wanted to produce the elusive ‘exchange ready pack’.

For the last five years, or at least since Hips were scrapped, I have been growing and running the Bold Legal Group, a national network of over 600 law firms, all of whom carry out conveyancing. I act as their ‘eyes and ears’ and keep them as informed as possible about all relevant property and conveyancing matters, from frauds and scams to Japanese knotweed and SDLT. I now send out an information bulletin to around 2,500 individual conveyancers twice a week.

My brief for this first blog was to write about how home sellers could be as prepared as possible at the beginning of, and throughout, the home selling/buying process.

In this first blog I will cover a sale (guess what my next blog will be?). I am writing this as if talking about a leasehold property; you can ignore the obvious leasehold items when considering a freehold property.

“Instruct the conveyancer as early as possible”

In an ideal world the seller should instruct a conveyancer the moment they put their property on the market, rather than when a buyer has been found, so that they can begin compiling a seller’s pack.

Back in my conveyancing days, if a client had walked in with all of the following documents and provided me with all off the stated information, I would have been a happy conveyancer:

  • The full address, postcode and (if applicable) property name
  • The full names of all registered owners and adult occupiers
  • Information about any important dates or deadlines, i.e. new jobs, schools, holidays etc
  • Brief details of the type of building the property is, i.e. a terraced house, detached property with land, or a flat etc
  • Mortgage and loan details for all loans and debts that will need redeeming on completion
  • Details (including dates) of all internal and external building or extension works carried out at the property
  • If not a standard property, details of anything unusual, for example:
    • Shared paths or drives
    • Extra land nearby that is included in the sale
    • Whether the property abuts (or has running through it) a stream or river
    • Flying freeholds
    • Details of any private drainage or sewerage systems
  • Landlord and or management company details
  • Service charge details
  • The buildings insurance arrangements

The list could go on and on but the most important thing is to instruct the conveyancer as early as possible. Once the conveyancer has seen or spoken to the seller, and asked them to complete the relevant Property Information Questionnaire, they can get a full picture of what is being sold and what, if any, the unusual aspects of the sale might be.

If the conveyancer is instructed, only when a buyer is found there could be a long, transaction threatening, delay before a contract and full sales pack is prepared and sent out.

For more information on Rob Hailstone and the Bold Legal Group click here.

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