The state of the residential property market is a regular news feature, particularly as transaction levels and prices appear to have fallen since the government’s autumn statement. The Truss statement caused concern in the financial markets which led to a reduction in the availability of favourable mortgage rates and impacted on buyer confidence. On 31 January The Bank of England reported that mortgage approvals in December had fallen 23 % month on month to a two and a half year low.
The housing market has been described as a ‘seller’s market’ over the last few years with an annual house price increase of 12.4% in the year to October 2022. The tables have turned since the autumn statement and industry experts are now describing a ‘buyer’s market’ in which their negotiating position is much stronger.
If you are a home owner considering a sale this year, you may want to consider how you can ensure your sale proceeds as quickly as possible in a competitive market for buyers:
Unless you are selling a Listed property, you must provide a valid EPC (they expire after 10 years). Check online that your EPC is up to date or ensure you obtain an up-to-date EPC either through your estate agent or a EPC provider.
Instruct a solicitor at an early stage
Consider instructing a solicitor when you initially market the property as you can then deal with the initial compliance checks and complete the seller’s protocol paperwork while waiting to find a buyer. This will usually lead to a contract being issued more quickly once a buyer is found.
Gas and electricity compliance documents
As a seller you are not obliged to provide up to date certificates, however, many buyers ask for these as part of the conveyancing process. Rather than waiting for the buyer to arrange their own gas and electric tests – which may then lead to a request for remedial work by the buyer – provide them with updated certificates at the outset.
Planning permission / building regulation certificates
If you have carried out improvement/extension works during your ownership, ensure you have copies of the relevant compliance documents to provide to the buyer. If you cannot find the documents – do not contact the local authority but contact your solicitor who may be able to consider alternative steps to take, such as indemnity insurance.
There are still thousands of properties that have not been registered at the Land Registry and the seller must produce the original title deeds to sell such properties. Try and obtain the unregistered title deeds as soon as you market the property – if you cannot locate the deeds for any reason speak to your solicitor who will be able to advise on what steps can be taken to ensure a sale can proceed.