How not to put obstacles in the way of your sale

How not to put obstacles in the way of your sale



In a difficult market vendors can give their properties the edge by getting simple preparatory work done before offering a property for sale.  Start with checking that the building is in good repair; check there are no missing slates or tiles and that gutters are not dripping.  If there are more major repair jobs to be done, and you don’t want to incur the costs work yourself, obtain quotes from one or two reliable builders so that a prospective purchaser can be told what the likely costs will be rather than leaving them to fear the worst. 


Check that any potholes in the access road or drive have been filled, rather than expect your prospective purchaser to arrive in a 4x4.  Make sure that garden walls and fences are in good order and clearly define the extent of your property.  If you have land, make certain gates open easily and are not tied up with bailer twine.


The title to most country houses (i.e. the legal ownership) will have been registered with the Land Registry when it was bought.  However, where a property has been in the same ownership for decades this may not be the case.  In 1950 just one million properties had been registered with Land Registry, all the rest relied on traditional paper or parchment Deeds.  Gradually registration was introduced county by county, but it took another 40 years for it to become compulsory in all areas.  If your property has not been registered it is well worth discussing this with your solicitor as it will normally speed up the conveyancing if this can be achieved before you find a buyer.


The Land Registry plan or title deed plan make it is possible to identify the boundaries of your property.  If in doubt, ask your agent for advice as it is important a purchaser knows exactly what they are buying.  Older properties may not own the freehold of their driveway or access road, particularly if it crosses someone else’s land, but will usually still have a right of access;  this is generally known as a prescriptive right of way.  This can deter some buyers, solicitors or banks/building societies.  If you do only have a prescriptive easement or right of way, it is worth speaking to your solicitor before you start marketing to see what your options are.  You may be able to acquire the freehold; need to sign a statutory declaration to prove you have regularly used the drive; or it might be sensible to take out a defective title indemnity policy.  However, it is important you approach these options in the correct order and get professional advice.  Once you have established the facts it is far easier to explain them to a buyer and less likely they will pull out off a purchase.


If all this sounds daunting or likely to take up too much of your time pick an agent who is prepared to help you and understands the issues that need to be addressed.  It is not just a question of finding a buyer in a difficult market, it is important the purchaser understands what they are buying and that the team of professionals advising you can steer your sale to a successful conclusion.


Dawn Carritt


18th February 2019

0207 664 6646