I might ruffle a few feathers with this one, but it's time for some home truths! Buying and selling a property is a big deal and yes, it takes a bit of time. It can be beset with delays and complications.
Chances are though, a lot of those annoying roadblocks are your own fault. That might be hard to swallow, but read on and let me enlighten you on some common mistakes and how you can get out of your own damn way when it comes to selling your property and shave up to four weeks off the whole process.
We've already spoken this month about conveyancing and the importance of instructing your solicitor as soon as you decide to buy or sell - but it's a point that cannot be driven home too forcefully.
Your solicitor will source necessary documents pertaining to the sale of your house, including (but not limited to):
Not only does it take time to source these things, but they might throw up some issues that require troubleshooting. What if there's an extension on the house without the necessary permissions or documentation? What if your EPC is out of date?
If your solicitor is working away on these things while the property is being brought to market by the estate agent, this buys some time to iron out these issues. If you wait until you're sitting around the table talking money with the other party, these issues could delay things by at least a fortnight.
Solicitors are (understandably) not in the business of offering credit. In order to obtain the necessary property certificates you need to begin the legal process of selling your house, you will need to make sure you furnish your solicitor with the money to do so.
A good solicitor will, at the beginning of the conveyancing process, outline all the documents they need to source on your behalf, and the costs associated with them. They will then give you a date by which to get this money to them, and detail the way in which they accept the cash.
They will not begin the process of ordering any documents and certificates that need to be paid for, until you have paid for them. They are your certificates after all. Some people have delayed their house sale by weeks, simply by not providing the cash for their property certificates!
The first thing you should do when you decide to buy a property is to figure out how much money you have to play with.
Contrary to what a lot of people think, this involves a lot more than a back-of-the-envelope calculation. Many of us think - you take your annual salary, multiply it by 2.5 and there's your budget - time to go property shopping!
What you should be doing is to consult a mortgage advisor as soon as you decide you want to buy a property - before you so much as start surfing PropertyPal.
Many of the property certificates needed for a house are valid for six months, and in a today's more cautious financial environment, a good solicitor will not order those certificates until the purchaser has got a mortgage agreed.
If you go to a good independent mortgage broker, they will not only source the best mortgage for you on the market, they will submit the paperwork to get you an Agreement In Principle; that's essentially a promise by the lender that, if everything is as it looks with your finances, and subject to certain conditions, then they will lend you £X to buy a house.
This could cut weeks off the length of time it takes to complete on your purchase.
What do you think - are there any buying and selling mistakes you would add to this list? Has it thrown up any questions about legal aspects of property transactions or about mortgages that you need some help with?
Drop me a line to firstname.lastname@example.org or join the conversation over on Facebook, Twitter or Linked In.