Selling my house for the first time: A step-by-step guide

Mon 16th May 2022

Property conveyancing might seem daunting, but Solicitor Kerry Tresidder gives eight easy steps for ‘selling my house’…

There are many guides with help for first time buyers, but often less information for homebuyers looking to sell their home for the first time, or for the first time in years. They are not sure of what legal advice to take or what is involved in the conveyancing process. We have compiled a guide to shed some light on what to expect.

1. Selling my house – your property is on the market

You may be busy with viewings at this stage, but now is a good time to think about which solicitor you want to use for the sale, once a homebuyer is found. Our residential conveyancing team can help with the legal services, fees, what to expect and how much you are likely to pay.

2. You’ve found a homebuyer and agreed a sale – congratulations!

Now is the time to instruct your solicitors and give their details to your estate agents. You will receive initial forms from us, requesting some more information. This will include information about you and the property, which is sent to the buyer’s solicitor. Although the paperwork might seem complicated, we are here to help with any questions you might have.

Your estate agent issues a memorandum of sale, giving us details of the buyer and buyer’s solicitor, so we know where to send paperwork for the sale. Remember the sale is not legally binding at this stage. It only becomes legally binding at the point of exchange of contracts. Until this point, you or the buyer may withdraw from the sale.

3. Draft contract pack for the buyer’s solicitor

Once we receive the initial paperwork from you, we download the title documents from the Land Registry and put together the draft contract pack. This contains the title documents or deeds, draft contract, some of the forms you completed and other relevant certificates or documents you provide.

It is then over to the buyer’s solicitor, who deals with the most time-consuming part of the conveyancing process. They review paperwork, carry out searches (including environmental, drainage and water and local authority searches). They also review the buyer’s mortgage offer, if applicable. They might be buying a house for the first time. This may take three to six weeks.

4. Questions and enquiries

It’s likely the buyer’s solicitor will raise a few questions about the paperwork. These can range from just a few to more than 20. We will deal with this but may need to ask you questions. These could include you confirming whether you’ve had any issues regarding rights for the property and asking for paperwork for any works carried out on the house.

If you don’t know the answer, then ‘not known’ is a perfectly acceptable response. Once the buyer’s solicitor receives the replies, they may have follow-up questions, which we can discuss with you.

5. Documents for signatures

Once the buyer’s enquiries have been dealt with, we will send you the contract and transfer to sign and return to us. By signing at this stage, you are not committing yourself legally to the sale. We will hold the signed documents on file so that when both you and the buyer are ready to exchange contracts and agree a moving date, we will be ready to go ahead.

6. Time to agree a completion date

Once the buyer’s solicitors confirm that their enquiries and checks (including the lender’s requirements if your buyer is getting a mortgage) have been dealt with, we can agree a date for completion – the date you handover the keys. The buyer will need to sign their documents and pay an exchange deposit to their solicitor. This is usually 10% of the purchase price.

7. Exchange of Contracts

At this point the sale is legally binding and the completion date is fixed. You must make sure you have vacated the property by 2pm on the date of completion, including removing any rubbish.

8. Completion Day

On the day of completion, we will receive the money from the buyer’s solicitor and phone you to confirm and check you have moved out of the property. We will then let the estate agents know that completion has taken place and they may release the keys to the buyer.

We will deal with paying off your mortgage (if you have one); paying the estate agents and our fees, and finally pay you the balance.

We will also send the necessary paperwork to the new owner’s solicitors so they can register the change of ownership at the Land Registry.

Coodes Solicitors’ residential property team has a wealth of experience to help you sell your house including providing key legal advice with plenty of information to help guide you through the conveyancing process. You can contact us online or by calling 01872 246200.

Mon 16th May 2022

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