What you should know when selling your house

We are always happy to talk through your queries, but we hope this guide will be helpful in answering some of your questions and gives you an idea of what to expect over the coming weeks.

Moving home is an exciting time and we want you to enjoy the process: we will do our utmost to ensure that everything proceeds as swiftly and smoothly as possible and will keep you informed at every stage.

What happens now?

You can expect to receive a client care letter from us which confirms the fee we have agreed and sets out our terms of business. This is a requirement of our regulatory authority, the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, and is done to protect you. We will also need you to provide ID evidence to enable us to comply with our obligations under the Money Laundering Regulations.

Enclosed with our letter will be a “Sale Instruction Form” for you to complete with brief details of the property you are selling, the parties involved and any mortgages that need to be redeemed. We will also let you have a “Property Information Form” and “Fixtures and Contents Form” (and a “Seller’s Leasehold Form” where relevant) for you to fill in and which will form part of the contract pack that is sent to the buyer’s solicitors. As soon as we receive the signed paperwork from you we can get to work.

What are the likely timescales for dealing with my transaction?

Whilst each transaction is different we would expect matters to progress along similar lines to the “average” timetable below.

Week 1
Hedges receive the signed paperwork from you and obtain title information from the land registry. A contract and full title pack is sent to the buyer’s solicitors who will then submit their searches.

Week 2
The buyer’s solicitors will review the title pack and raise any enquiries with Hedges. We will liaise with you to respond to the enquiries as promptly as possible.

Weeks 3 to 4
As and when the buyer’s search results are received the buyer’s solicitors will raise any additional queries that arise which we will respond to with your assistance.

Week 5
By this stage we would expect the vast majority of the buyer’s solicitors’ investigations to have been completed and, assuming a mortgage offer is in place (if needed), we would expect the solicitors to send a report to the buyer and arrange for him or her to sign the contract. We will also arrange for you to sign the contract and will work with you to get a completion date agreed.

Week 6
Exchange of contracts: this generally takes place by telephone and you do not need to be present. The buyer will usually provide a deposit equivalent to 10% of the purchase price which is held by solicitors pending completion.

Period between exchange and completion
This is the point at which you can get packing and leave us to deal with the pre-completion formalities. We will ask you sign a transfer document and will also send you a completion statement detailing the funds you can expect to receive from us on the day of completion (which will be the sale proceeds less any monies needed to repay the mortgage and to cover estate agents’ and other agreed costs).

Completion Day
The long awaited day is finally here! The buyer’s solicitors will arrange for the purchase monies to be sent to us and upon receipt we will formally confirm that completion has taken place and that the estate agents can release the keys to the buyer. We will also redeem your mortgage from the purchase monies. This normally happens around lunchtime dependent upon the number of parties in the chain.

In the meantime you will be busy vacating the property and dealing with the final practical arrangements such as the taking of meter readings and the cancellation of home insurance for the property.

After completion
We will send the title documentation on to the buyer’s solicitors. Your file will be stored by Hedges for 6 years and will usually then be destroyed.

What are the most likely causes of delay and what can I do about them?

The most frequently encountered causes of delay in the selling process are:

Leasehold property:
Leasehold transactions can take slightly longer than freehold ones as we often need to provide the buyer’s solicitors with information from the managing agents who are not always as quick to respond as we would like. You can assist by ensuring that you let us have the managing agents’ details and copies of any service charge demands as early as possible in the transaction so that we can request the necessary information upfront.

Search results:
There can sometimes be a delay by the local authority in supplying results to local authority searches. There is a limit to what can be done about this other than encourage the buyer’s solicitors to submit the search as early on as possible in the transaction and to ensure that the buyer has supplied the necessary funds to enable them to do so.

Mortgage offers:
Sometimes the buyer’s solicitors can be ready to exchange but for the fact that a mortgage offer is still awaited. Your estate agent should be checking the position at the outset to ensure that the buyer has funding in principle in place so that a lack of funding does not cause delays later down the line.

Long chains:
It is an unfortunate reality that the more people there are in a chain the slower the sale process can be. There are simply more people who all need to have mortgage offers and get everything in place before everyone can proceed to exchange. A good estate agent will help enormously in this scenario by keeping track of everyone in the chain and facilitating progress as much as possible.

Is there anything else I should do?

Quite simply, try to relax and let Hedges deal with any potential issues for you. Whilst there are occasions when a sale will take longer than envisaged despite everyone’s best efforts it is extremely rare that a transaction doesn’t eventually reach a successful conclusion.

We will do everything we can to complete your sale as quickly as possible and you can rest assured that we proactively progress all elements of the transaction that are within our control. If there are elements of the process that you don’t understand please call us rather than worrying about them; we’ve been helping people move house for more than 200 years and there aren’t many problems we haven’t already experienced and successfully resolved!