Common Pitfalls When Selling Residential Property

30 June 2022
4 minutes
Residential Property

In this article we look at some of the most common pitfalls when it comes to selling your property and offer some tips and advice on what you can do to help speed up the process.

1. Check the registered boundaries against the boundaries on the ground.

One of the first issues that can delay a sale is with the registered boundary shown on the land registry map. Before selling a property, it is important to check that the property you own correlates with the registered title. If the registered boundary is incorrect, a boundary rectification agreement may need to be entered into with a neighbour or a query might need to be raised with Land Registry if the transfer map was incorrectly registered. Obtaining a title indemnity policy is another option to allow a sale to proceed if the registered boundaries are incorrect. However, if your neighbour has been notified about a boundary issue, then an insurer will not issue a policy.

2. Management pack delays

If you are selling an apartment or property in a development with common areas, your conveyancing solicitor will request a management pack from the management company or managing agent. The management pack includes details of service charges, AGMs, block insurance policies as well as other important title information concerning the transfer of the legal title from the original developer to the management company. Any delays in securing the management pack can disrupt the sale process. It is best to have the pack ready as soon as possible once the property is agreed.

3. Planning permission and building control 

A lack of planning permission for home improvements like loft conversions, conservatories and porches can cause severe delays to the conveyancing process. In some cases, sellers may be asked to purchase an indemnity policy to cover works. If works are dangerous, or costly to fix, buyers may seek to renegotiate the property price.

If you are selling a house, ensure that you have all documentation for all alterations that have been made over the last 10 years. If you are unsure or unaware of whether work has the appropriate planning documentation, then it is important to check with your local council.

Many sellers do not realise that loft or cavity wall insulation, conversion from oil to gas heating, installation of new boilers that are not like-for-like replacements and installation of bay windows all require building control approval. If the works were carried out without the necessary approvals, a building control inspection will need to be arranged so that a regularisation certificate can be issued. Depending on your council area it can take weeks for an inspector to become available.

4. Certificates, searches, warranties and vendors’ replies

It is important that the seller’s Solicitor is put in funds quickly once the property is agreed to cover the expenses associated with obtaining the local council property certificate, regional property certificate and other property searches. It can take several weeks for these certificates to be issued by the relevant council.

It is a legal requirement that all properties have valid Energy Performance Certificates. Some mortgage providers will offer better mortgage rates for green properties that have a rating of A-C. It is important to have the EPC assessment carried out prior to being placed on the market.

Any gas appliances in the property must be assessed by a registered gas safety engineer. The gas safety certificate must be dated within the previous 12 months from the date of completion.

Every seller must complete a questionnaire called vendors’ replies to pre-contract enquiries and a fixtures and fittings list. The replies allow the purchaser’s Solicitor to check that no issues are raised and that the necessary certificates and consents have been issued. The fixtures and fittings list confirms what the seller is removing or leaving in the property at completion. Any items to be negotiated e.g., fridges or sofas can be added with a suggested price.

Common documentation that is provided with the vendors’ replies includes the following:

  • Latest ground rent receipt (if the property is Leasehold)
  • Latest rates bill
  • Management company sales pack including up-to-date service charge account
  • Building control completion certificates
  • Warranties or guarantees e.g., damp proofing or insulation
  • Tenancy information (if the property is let)
  • Consent to discharge of effluent (for septic tanks) and tank emptying records.
  • EPC

5. Substandard conveyancing when the property was purchased

Poor conveyancing in the past can throw up significant problems when you come to sell your home. If the conveyancing process was not done correctly, you may not be aware of hidden covenants, access rights over your land, or even the registered class of title. It is sometimes necessary to have title reclassified to a higher class to make the property good and marketable.

In this situation, your chosen Solicitor can identify the problems early and will develop a strategy or plan to mitigate any title issues. The moral is to choose your conveyancing Solicitor wisely, or it could cause you significant delays and expense when you come to sell your home. It also pays to be proactive in obtaining as much of the necessary documentation before agreeing your property for sale.

If you are thinking of selling your property, MKB Law can conduct a title review so that any title issues are flagged at an early stage and can be your strategic partner to take the stress out of the process from sale agreed to completion.

Please do not hesitate to contact a member of our residential property team should you have any further questions.

This article is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional legal advice.

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