Placing your home on the property market can be a daunting prospect but with some careful thought and planning any future problems or pitfalls can be avoided. In order to smooth the way for a successful sale it’s important to get your paperwork shipshape right from the start and do your research.
Here are some important things to consider before putting your property on the market:
1. Ownership and boundaries
If your property is registered with the Land Registry only those people registered on the title can place the property on the market (unless there is a situation where there are powers of attorney or executors involved). Owners must check their title register and plan before they sell their home to make sure everything is correct, or seek advice from a solicitor. Some properties may have more than one title.
If your property isn’t registered with the Land Registry you will need to have proof of purchase (this might be filed along with the original deeds). It is advised to speak to a solicitor at this stage as it may be necessary to register with the Land Registry before putting your home on the market.
If you are unsure about whether your home is registered or not you can check on the Land Registry website www.gov.uk/search-property-information-land-registry
2. Extensions/alterations to the property
If you have altered or extended your property you will need to find all the relevant paperwork concerning the renovations (such as planning permission documents, listed building consent (if applicable) and the completion certificate). If you do not have the required planning permission you will need to decide whether to seek retrospective planning permission from your local council or talk to an insurance company about taking out indemnity insurance against a possible claim in the future.
These will include such guarantees as damp and timber, electrical, new boiler, new windows and new conservatory etc. It is worth having these to hand as your estate agent and solicitor will need them. Windows and conservatories need a FENSA certificate if they were changed after 2002. Wood burners require a HETAS certificate of compliance.
4. Leasehold properties
Before you put your property on the market you must locate your copy of the lease. You will need to know: how long the lease is and when it commenced; the cost of the ground rent; the cost of maintenance/service charges and what they cover; the name of the freeholder; the name of the management company; any restrictions on the property (for example whether pets are allowed). You will need to contact the management company as your solicitor will need to see their accounts.
5. Changes in legislation
Often sellers are unaware of changes in the law and don’t keep up with their property obligations. For example, new changes to the law under the General Binding Rules mean owners of septic tanks which discharge direct into surface water or a watercourse (such as a ditch, stream, canal or river) must replace or upgrade their drainage after 1st January 2020 when they sell their property.
6. Choosing the right solicitor
It’s a good idea to choose a solicitor who is local to your area, rather than a cheaper online conveyancer, well in advance as there may be matters that need dealing with even before you put your property on the market.
7. Consumer Protection Act
Vendors should be aware that they and their agent must inform any viewers of any matter which could affect the viewer’s decision on whether to buy the property or not. Examples of matters that need to be disclosed include: any structural issues with the property; boundary issues or shared rights of way; planning limitations; if your neighbours have an Anti Social Behaviour Order (ASBO); any planning permission (whether it was granted, is pending or was denied). Failing to disclose relevant information is a criminal offence so it is always best to err on the side of caution.
Being clear from the start about what paperwork is needed and the information you should disclose will make for a quicker sale and will prevent any issues arising afterwards. If you are unsure about anything, please feel free to get in touch.