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So, you have found a buyer for your property, now you need to complete the deal. If you have used an estate agent, they will help you to take care of the rest. If not, this is where you may have to do some work.
Note that the selling process and legal requirements do vary from country to country. It’s worth researching the exact requirements for the area where your property is located, and, once you engage a solicitor to handle the legal aspects of your sale, let them re-confirm all the details so you know exactly what is required.
Try to complete this stage as quickly as possible and be realistic. If you noticed the buyer coveting your gas BBQ but is balking at the asking price, throw in the BBQ as part of the deal if it will get your sale completed. If the buyer has found a small flaw with the property, offer to have it repaired or renovated as part of the deal. It is worth losing an appliance or making good on a small flaw in order to make a good sale. An agreed price is normally subject to survey.
A buyer will have a survey done to ensure the property is in sound condition: they will need this especially if they are getting a mortgage. When the survey has been done and the report handed to the potential buyer, the buyer will let you know if any problems or flaws are found that they want you to fix, or they may want to reduce the purchase price to allow for aspects they need to correct.
Solicitor or conveyancer
The buyer’s solicitor or conveyancer will carry out their searches and pre contract enquiries, and your solicitor will prepare the draft contract of sale. It is up to the seller to collect all the necessary legal information regarding the property and present it to the buyer’s legal representative. This part of the deal can take some time (unless you have already gathered this in advance), and, depending on where you are and the local regulations, either side can pull out at any time until everything is completed and contracts are exchanged.
This is the tricky period when the seller can be ‘gazundered’ or the buyer could be ‘gazumped’ – meaning either side pulls out of the deal. However, once contracts are exchanged the deal is legally binding.
It pays to shop around for the right company or person to be your legal representative:
§ Check with family, friends and your Estate Agent for recommendations.
§ Get at least three quotations and compare ‘apples to apples’ so no aspect is overlooked.
§ Try to negotiate a ‘no sale – no payment’ agreement.
§ Keep in touch during the process to know what the status is at all times.
It is worth noting that the cheapest is not always the best: as with anything you ‘get what you pay for’ and recommendations can count for a lot. If considering a small company, ensure that they have enough resources to handle your account – if their resources are stretched they might work at a slower pace. If selecting a larger company, make sure you will get the personalised service and not be ‘just another number’ on their books.
Contracts are exchanged when the price is agreed and all the legal aspects are completed. Once this is done, both you and the buyer are legally bound to go ahead. At this point the buyer pays a deposit, pending completion of the purchase. If for some reason either party pulls out of the deal, then the deposit is forfeited by the one who cancels the deal. The seller keeps the deposit if the buyer pulls out, or the buyer gets a refund if the seller pulls out. Note that in some places the seller also has to pay a penalty as well as returning the deposit.
This date will be in the contract and is legally binding. It is usually a couple of weeks after the exchange of contracts to give you time to move and is jointly agreed by both parties. This is also the date when you receive the balance of payment for your property and hand over the keys.
Oh happy day! Just make sure you move before this date!