Speeding up your property sale - property information and enquiries
There was a time not many years ago when conveyancing mainly involved checking the contract and title deeds, and carrying out essential searches. A seller would also provide a completed property information and fittings and contents forms. Whilst title checking remains an important part of the process, there has been a change of emphasis.
The property information form (Law Society form TA6, or TA7 for leasehold properties) has become longer, and there is also now a form for landlords to complete for leasehold properties (LPE1), sometimes also known as a Leasehold Information Pack. For freehold properties on estates managed by a management company, form FME1 must be completed by the managing agents.
The sooner these forms are completed and provided to the buyer and their conveyancer the better. Inevitably the buyer's conveyancer will wish to raise enquiries, and with the majority of properties being registered at the Land Registry, we are increasingly finding that it is enquiries about the fabric of the dwelling or environmental issues, rather than title concerns, which are being raised and adding to delays with transactions.
Most conveyancing solicitor firms are accredited under the Law Society's Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS). The scheme lays down certain principals which govern how a property transaction should be conducted. One of these principals states that additional enquiries should only be raised to clarify issues arising out of the documents provided, or which relate to the title, the use, nature or location of the property, or which the buyer has specifically requested. Such enquiries may involve asking for copies of planning permissions or installation certificates provided by window fitters (FENSA), gas engineers (GAS SAFE or OFTEC), or electricians (NICEIC). You may also be asked to provide paperwork for wood burning stoves, chimney sweeping, septic tanks, conservatories and solar panels. Any available guarantees will need to be seen. Sellers should expect to have to provide these, and a delay in doing so will slow down the transaction.
Over the years there has been a drive to speed up conveyancing and one of these schemes was HIPS (Home information Packs) whereby title documents, searches and property information had to be supplied at the same time that a property went on the market. The Energy Performance Certificate was part of this initiative and is still with us today. Unfortunately HIPS were not a success and were abandoned.
Various industry bodies and groups are looking again at introducing ways of providing up front information when properties come to market. In the meantime, we recommend that you speak to us or your chosen conveyancer at a much earlier stage in the transaction, ideally at the same time that you consult your estate agent about selling your property.
Here at Chattertons we would be very pleased to take your instructions to set things up so that we can hit the floor running once you have accepted an offer from a buyer. It would enable us to carry out the essential ID checks, and collect from you in advance all the information which we know a buyer and their conveyancer would wish to see. Anything that can be done at an earlier stage, will help to speed up your sale and reduce the risk that your buyer will withdraw.