“Although we’ve already seen early signs that the market is starting to pick up, those looking to sell in 2024 still face a number of obstacles when it comes to securing a buyer and getting their sale over the line without lengthy delays.”
– Ruth Beeton – Home Sale Pack
Discard any emotional attachment
It’s only natural that we might have a strong emotional attachment to our homes, particularly if it was your first home or the house you raised a family in. However, emotions don’t help to sell houses and while it’s easier said than done, you need to approach your sale with a clear head.
The biggest issue with over-emotional sellers is their propensity to overvalue their homes. They may also be overly selective about who they want to sell to, items they want to include or exclude from the sale or have an unrealistic time frame in mind. This can deter buyers from the get-go and in current market conditions where the buyer has the upper hand, this can cause significant delays
Pick the right estate agent, not the cheapest
With the cost of living remaining high, you might be tempted to opt for a low fixed-fee agent, or the high-street agent quoting the lowest fee or the highest asking price for your home. These are rarely the best agents and choosing the right agent is a decision that should always be based on other performance indicators.
Instead of the lowest cost, look for the agent that achieves the highest percentage of asking price, the agent with the best customer satisfaction ratings, or the one that boasts the quickest average time to sell – depending on which matters most to you.
It’s also important to note that your area of the property market may have performed very differently to the national picture, or even that of the next town over. A good local agent will have the best knowledge of what price you are likely to achieve and, as a result, they can also help you bypass any emotional attachments you have in order to price to sell.
They can also pay for themselves when it comes to sales progression, the careful management of your transaction and the wider chain, minimising the risk of a fall through and pushing your sale through to completion as quickly as possible.
Paperwork helps productivity
It may seem like a small task, but make sure you have all the paperwork you need ready to go. Gas certificates, electrical completion certificates and warranties are just some of the documents you will need.
Missing documentation is one of the most common reasons a property sale will be delayed and it’s also one area where a seller can get ahead of the game before they’ve even listed their home for sale.
Pick the right solicitor
You may have picked the best-performing estate agent in your area, but without the right solicitor, you’re still likely to face a lengthy transaction timeline.
Again, don’t simply opt for the most affordable, they are also likely to be the most overworked. You also want to avoid the firm recommended by your estate agent. This is often a recommendation made purely on a pre-existing business relationship that benefits the agent and solicitor, not the seller.
Do your research and look for the best. One simple trick is to record how long each solicitor takes to reply to your initial enquiry. This will give you an idea of how proactive they will be when it comes to responding to future issues.
Proactivity is key
Although you’re paying estate agents and solicitors to get you through to completion, you will also need to approach your sale with a proactive attitude. It’s not just about having your paperwork in order or instructing the right people at the right time, you have to stay on the ball and make yourself available – particularly when it comes to the viewing process.
It’s also likely that you will need to provide a constant stream of information about your property so it’s advisable to avoid booking any holidays while your sale is completing to ensure you can act on anything that is required at speed.
You should also check in with your solicitor and estate agent on a weekly basis just to make sure they are on top of everything and there is nothing outstanding that they are waiting on.
The dreaded chain
The dreaded chain can be a nightmare for buyers, sellers, estate agents and solicitors. It’s essentially the number of homes connected to your own sale, such as your buyer’s existing property and the onward purchase of the person you might be buying a home from.
Unfortunately, the chain is largely out of your control and no matter how proactive you are, you can’t avoid delays caused by other parties moving at different speeds.
The most common delays associated with a chain include differing timeframes for property searches, particularly within different local authorities, the time it takes to convert a mortgage offer to formal status and issues when reviewing title deeds. One common delay is often the use of a maiden name on a title deed and to rectify this, your solicitor will need to see a copy of your marriage certificate.
Again, it speaks to the importance of ensuring your paperwork is in order from the get-go and that all chain-related communications are handled by your estate agent or solicitor, while all those involved in the chain are present, proactive and upfront with all required information.
Ruth Beeton, co-founder of Home Sale Pack who commissioned the research, commented: “The market slowed considerably last year and, as a result, the nation’s sellers faced longer transaction times and the increased threat of their sale collapsing. Although we’ve already seen early signs that the market is starting to pick up, those looking to sell in 2024 still face a number of obstacles when it comes to securing a buyer and getting their sale over the line without lengthy delays.
“Unfortunately, some of these obstacles are out of their control, such as the dreaded chain, but they can minimise the risk of both delays and fall throughs by tackling their sale with a proactive attitude, as well as picking the right estate agent and solicitor.
“However, perhaps the most important thing is to ensure they have all of the required and relevant upfront information about their property. It may seem like a given, but it’s probably the most common cause of delays seen time and time again.
“Not only is it within your power to control, but it’s also a key requirement that allows both your estate agent and solicitor to perform their duties in a timely fashion.”