How to legally prepare to sell your home

Time is of the essence once you have secured a sale on your house so ensuring you are aware of your legal obligations before entering the process is hugely beneficial.

Here are some of our top tips for those looking to sell this autumn:

Enlisting a solicitor  

When it comes to selling your home we would advise instructing a conveyancer or a solicitor that specialises in residential conveyancing.

Before deciding on one however, it is important to contact multiple solicitors and conveyancers as you will find there is no set scale of fees. One of our top tips would be to check whether their fee is fixed or whether it will vary depending if more work is required, expenses are added or if charges are made if the sale falls through before contracts are exchanged.

Throughout the process do keep in regular contact with your estate agent and solicitor. If you are dealing with a solicitor remotely and documents need to be sent, ensure you use recorded delivery.

Documenting renovation work 

When you come to sell a property which has been altered or renovated in any way, you must be able to provide copies of documents such as the Buildings Regulations sign off, or FENSA certificates for any replacement windows. Conveyancers have a professional duty to ensure that these are obtained. However, if approval was not acquired and the work does not comply with building regulations, then the local authority can issue a notice which will require the current property owner to put right the work.

Keeping up with key regulation changes 

Something many people who haven’t sold their home in the last two years might not know is that in June last year the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 came into force in the UK. The updated regulations are designed to reduce the social and economic impact of organised crime and impede the transfer of money to fund terrorist organisations in the UK and internationally. Estate agents must now carry out customer due diligence checks on both their clients and buyers prior to entering into a business relationship with them. Therefore, don’t be surprised if an agent completes a background check on you when you come to sell your property with them.

Obtaining an Energy Performance Certificate 

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) must be supplied free of charge to potential buyers, and be produced by an accredited domestic energy assessor. The vendor and estate agent, where applicable, must seek to ensure the certificate is available within seven days of the property being put on the market.

Since 2013, all sales advertisements for properties should provide EPC ratings. Trading Standards can issue a notice with a penalty charge of £200 per dwelling when not provided. Do also take note that certificates are only valid for 10 years.

Establishing boundaries 

When you come to move in to a new home, it is wise to get an idea of where the boundaries for your new property are by looking at its title plan. Title plans are prepared by HM Land Registry when they register a property however, if you live in England or Wales most title plans often only show a red outline and don’t show exact boundaries or provide details such as who owns a hedge, wall, tree or fence between two properties.

We would advise establishing the physical boundaries before you sign the contract, and have a full understanding of who is responsible for what. This will allow you to avoid potential future disputes with neighbours, and any legal costs which may follow.

Exchanging contracts

Once you have exchanged make sure to inform energy and phone companies of your departure, and ask for final meter readings to be made on completion day. Additionally, you should inform the person at the council responsible for council tax that you are leaving the property.

If you are looking for further advice on how to legally prepare to sell your home, get in touch with your local Jackson-Stops agent who can talk you through every step of the way.