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A Guide to Moving Home: How Conveyancing Really Works Part 1 - Sale

  • This leaflet is intended to guide you through the main stages in a typical sale.  In practice, no two transactions are quite the same, so yours will probably differ a little from this example.
  • Do not wait until you have a sale agreed before you contact us.  It helps us to be involved at an early stage, and we may be able to help you with advice and information.  As soon as you decide to move, please ring us to talk about your plans.  You will not incur any fees until we actually start working for you.
  • During the sale, we will keep you informed of progress by writing to you at each significant stage of the transaction.  Please keep us up to date with any significant discussions you have with the buyer or estate agents.
  • If, at any stage you have questions or are in doubt about any aspect of the transaction, please contact us at once.  However, we would ask you to restrict your calls to those that are really necessary, as this reduces the risk of delay.  If you do telephone unnecessarily, or at an unnecessary length then, firstly, the time we spend on those calls will reduce the amount of time available to actually do the work on your transaction and on others and, secondly, this additional time may have to be reflected in an increase in our fees.

1) Energy Performance Certificate

Home Information Packs are no longer required.  It is a legal requirement to obtain in all cases an Energy Performance Certificate and this must have been commissioned prior to marketing.  You can check the legal requirements on the government website www.direct.gov.uk and, if you require any guidance or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.       

2) Initial Instructions 

When you first tell us that you want us to act for you, we must by law obtain satisfactory evidence of your identity and address.  We will ask you to complete our questionnaire form and will need to inspect original ID documentation and carry out an online identity check.  Please assist by providing the documentation requested as quickly as possible.       

We will need the Energy Performance Certificate and we will ask you to fill in some standard questionnaires about your property.  This will enable us to make an early start on preparing the sale documents.    

When a buyer has been found the estate agents will send us the “memorandum of sale” setting out details of the buyer, the buyer’s solicitor, the price and any additional points agreed between you.  They will also send you a copy of this document.  Please check that it is accurate and let us know at once if there are any discrepancies.  

We will write to all parties confirming that we are acting for you and once the solicitors have confirmed they are acting, the matter can proceed.      

3) The Contract and Supporting Documents

Once we have your completed forms, we can prepare a draft contract and the “package” of supporting documents.  This will include evidence of your ownership of the house, technical details of the legal title to the house, planning permission, guarantees, etc.  

The Property Information (and Leasehold Information Form if applicable) we send you are part of the “package” and will be passed directly to the buyer’s solicitors without alteration by us.  It is important that you read the notes on the front of the questionnaire(s) carefully and that you answer as fully and as accurately as possible.

If the deeds to your house have been registered at HM Land Registry which is usually the case we will get them from the Land Registry official copies of the title information for your house (“Office Copy Entries”).  These show all the relevant details about your property.  If your deeds are not registered, we will prepare extracts from them to show all these details (“the Epitome”).

All of this information is sent out to the buyer’s solicitor.  It will speed the sale if we can send it all out as quickly as possible.  The swift return of your questionnaires, fully completed with all necessary enclosures is therefore very helpful. 

4) Approaching Exchange of Contracts

Now that we have given the buyer’s solicitor all this information, it will take them time to check it and explain it to the Buyer.          

At this stage, the solicitor may ask further questions and we will either answer these from the information we hold, refer them on to you, or get the answers from some third party (like the Local Authority), as appropriate.   

When the buyer’s solicitors have replies to these extra questions and has the result of any searches they and the buyer have a formal offer for any mortgage he will need, the buyer will be ready to discuss exchange of contracts and completion.         

When the buyer’s solicitor has agreed the wording of our contract, we will ask you to sign the contract in readiness for exchange.         

When contracts are exchanged, the date for the completion of the sale must be written into the contracts, so you need to have agreed to this date with your buyer in good time before exchange.     

You must move out on completion day (or before) so you should make sure, before you agree the completion date, that you can find a remover that is available on the date you require and that you have alternative accommodation to move into.     

The completion date can be any working day (excluding Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays) provided there is at least one week between exchange and completion.  The reason for this is that the buyer’s solicitor has to do several things between exchange and completion, including getting mortgage money from the lender, and this all takes time.       

You will need to let us have your forwarding address and details in writing of where you would like any proceeds of sale paid to.        

5) Exchange of Contracts

Until contracts have been exchanged, neither side is bound by law to go through with the transaction.  When contracts have been exchanged, you are bound to sell and your buyer is bound to buy, at a fixed price on a fixed date. 

You will sign your part of the contract before exchange and we will hold it on our file until everyone is ready to go ahead.  When everyone in the chain is ready, we will ask you for your specific instruction to exchange contracts before we go ahead and commit you to the sale.

A deposit (usually between 5% and 10% of the price) is paid to us upon exchange and we hold it in our special bank account for clients’ money, until completion.  If you are buying another house at the same time, we can usually arrange to use the deposit we get in on your sale towards the deposit you will have to pay on your purchase.        

If there are mortgages or other secured loans these have to be repaid on completion.  We will obtain settlement figures following exchange of contracts and these will be repaid from the proceeds of sale and if there is any shortfall this will be your responsibility to repay prior to completion.  Please ensure any normal mortgage payments are made up to the completion day.      

6) Between Exchange and Completion

During this period if it has not been dealt with before the buyer’s solicitor will draft a “transfer deed” (the document transferring the ownership of your house to your buyer) for our approval and when we are happy with it, we will ask you to sign it in readiness for completion.  We will then hold it on file until the sale price is received in full from the buyer’s solicitor on the day of completion.    

Signatures on the transfer deed must be properly witnessed.  We will give you full instructions about this and it is important that you follow these precisely.  If you have any problems in finding a suitable witness or if you are in doubt as to what you have to do, please telephone and we will make arrangements for you to sign the transfer deed at our office and have a member of staff witness your signature. 

We will also prepare a final “completion statement”, as opposed to the draft statement sent previously showing all the money coming in and all the money to be paid out.  This will show whether (as is usually the case) there is money due to you on completion, or whether money is required from you to complete the transaction.          

If extra money is needed from you, we must have “cleared funds” on the day of completion, which means we will need either a direct bank transfer (“CHAPS transfer”) to our account on the day before completion or a cheque in our hands one week before completion, to allow for clearance.        

It is your responsibility to tell the Local Authority and the water, power and telephone companies that you are leaving, and to obtain and settle their closing of accounts.  

7) Completion

Your task for the day of completion is to move house!!         

You must:-      

  1. remove all rubbish, including clearing any loft, garage or outbuilding;      
  2. not remove anything  you have told your buyer you are leaving        

While you are doing this, money will move along the chain through the electronic banking system until your buyer’s solicitor pays the balance of the sale price to  us.  We will stay in touch with you over the telephone and tell you as soon as this happens.  We cannot predict accurately when it will happen, because the timing will depend on the length of the chain of transactions and the banking delays in moving the money, but you should aim to be ready to move by mid-morning.    

Delays can occur, and it is not legally safe for you to hand over the keys to your buyer until we tell you that the money has arrived at our bank.  The usual thing to do is to leave the keys with the estate agent when you move out.  We will then tell them when they can release the keys to the buyer.

When we have the money, we will make the payments shown on the completion statement, including redeeming your old mortgage, paying the estate agent’s commission, disbursements and paying our fees.          

If there is a balance of money payable to you, you can choose either to collect a cheque in the afternoon of the completion day, or to have a cheque posted to you that evening, or to have the money transferred to you direct into your account as cleared funds on the next working day.  There is, however, a charge for this last service.

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