Useful Information

People say Estate Agents deal with property, but I’m not so sure. I deal with people – property is the currency, people are the thing. I’ve been buying & selling property for over 25 years (where did that go!!), and I realized very quickly that you, my clients & customers come first. Different people have different motivations for buying & selling; some because they want to & some because they have to. Some are very experienced, some less-so. Some need lots of detail, some need ‘just the big picture’. Some are looking to buy or sell an investment, some are looking to buy or sell their home. Then there’s the way property is transacted now – from the traditional Private Treaty to on-line auctions & everything in between. Even contracts can be exchanged on your mobile phone. Technology has also evolved, some of us are adapting to that change very quickly, some not so. But no matter what, why or how, everyone needs individual care & attention. You’ll get that from me & my team. Here’s a few tips that might help along the way, whether you’re buying or selling. It also outlines what you can expect from us what we can expect from you.

The process of selling a property takes place over a number of months, but there are some actions you can to help the process run smoothly.

Appointing a solicitor is the first and one of the most important steps in beginning your journey to sell your house. Shop around and seek recommendations from people who have recently used the services of a solicitor to sell property. You need a solicitor you can get easily, will take your calls & explain what’s going on when you need to find out. Believe it or not – they’re not all the same.

Once you’ve appointed a solicitor, they will advise you on the documents you need in order to sell. Typically, these documents include:

  • Title Deeds (need to be requested from the bank).
  • Building Energy Rating Certificate (BER)
  • Certificate of compliance with planning & building regulation (very important)
  • NPPR Certificate
  • Septic tank registration
  • Land Registry Map
  • Declaration of Identity
  • Letter confirming your estate is in charge

Making a good first impression is key when selling your property. There are a few simple ways to enhance the visual appeal of your home to get potential buyers over the line.

  • Tidy up – clear the house of all clutter prior to viewings.
  • Deep clean – make your property sparkle with a deep clean of your kitchen, bathrooms, windows, doors, floors and furniture.
  • Exterior – kerb appeal is everything. Tidy the garden, weed gravel areas and flower beds, and mow the grass.
  • Neutralise – make your home as neutral as possible so that potential buyers can imagine living there, put away all personal photos and belongings prior to viewings.

I advertise on all of the major websites; Daft & Myhome. I also advertise across my social media channels; Facebook, Instagram, YouTube & LinkedIn. I’ll also have my ‘For Sale’ sign on the property and the property will feature in my shop window in Enfield. I also usually have traditional photography & video and for a little extra outlay I can arrange drone photography & a ‘360o’ tour.

Once I have it advertised you should check the on-line listings to make sure you’re happy with the ads. Double check also to ensure we have accurately reflected any inclusions such as appliances, curtains and the like. You’d be very surprised how a small detail in a listing can cause a big issue on closing!

I usually charge €350 to list the property (which covers all of your advertising, floor plans, social media & the like), and then 1.5% plus VAT of the selling price.

In our experience, the most common reason for failed transactions is a delay in issuing contracts once the property is ‘sale agreed’. Some of the most common causes for a delay in issuing contracts are;

  • problems with planning & building regulation compliance
  • inaccurate site boundaries
  • non-payment or incorrect payment of LPT and/or NPPR (‘2nd home tax’)
  • right-of-way issues with wells, septic tanks, or estate roads.
  • Other delays that have cropped up with us previously have been there a family member has a right of residence in the house,

It’s a good idea to make your solicitor has these and all other matters covered off in order that they can issue contracts quickly once we are ‘sale agreed’. Your solicitor should have given you a ‘to-do’ list, so please ensure you get everything dealt with ASAP.

The 3 steps following ‘Sale Agreed’

From here, there are 3 main stages in the purchase

  1. ‘Booking’ – you’re ‘sale agreed’, and the booking deposit is paid. Your solicitor will issue the contracts to the buyers’ solicitor. Hopefully there is no delay in issuing these. What’s called ‘pre-contract queries’ takes place. These are questions too & fro between the solicitors. In the meantime the buyer needs to organize their bank valuation, survey, life assurance, property insurance & loan pack. This should take around 3 weeks.
  2. ‘Signing’ or ‘Exchange’ – The buyers sign first. You’ve only exchanged contracts if your buyers have signed the contracts, paid a (usually) 10% deposit to their solicitor AND their solicitor has sent the contracts and deposit back yours. If your solicitor doesn’t have this done, then you’ve not exchanged! There are a few very important details, such as whether or not your solicitor has actually posted or ‘DX’ the contracts back to the other solicitor, but you can simply ask your solicitor ‘have we a deal yet?’ The solicitors will arrange a closing date.
  3. ‘Closing’ this is when the buyers have sent the full purchase money to your solicitor, some final checks have to take place, and we are told to release the keys. TIP; in order for us to release the keys on the closing date, we must have a ‘sale closed & release the keys’ email from the sellers’ solicitor. Even though your solicitor may have transferred the full closing monies, until we have that email, we can’t hand over the keys. Congratulations, you have sold your house & it’s no longer yours

When the Booking Deposit is paid, I’ll send an email outlining your steps.

Only 1 main tip; keep after your solicitor! Here are a few more though ;

  • Your solicitor is essentially taking over matters from here, so please do keep in regular contact with him/her to ensure everything is running according to plan.
  • Please double check the Sale Advice Note (which we will issue at this point) to make sure the details are correct, particularly any contents included.
  • As the closing date approaches, purchasers will usually arrange a pre-closure inspection a day or 2 beforehand to make sure everything is in order. We are aware that the this can be inconvenient so it’s just a little ‘heads-up’ in advance!
  • On the closing day please take the utility final readings to close off your accounts. You can give the buyers name to the providers and ask the providers to send welcome packs to the new buyers at the property.
  • Don’t forget to re-direct your post.
  • Finally, in order for us to release the keys on the closing date, we must have a ‘sale closed & release the keys’ email from your solicitor. If we have a key of the property, you can just leave any final keys in the property – the buyer will only need to get our set from us to gain access.

The legal status of ‘sale agreed’ is that the seller has agreed to sell and the buyer has agreed to buy on a ‘without prejudice’ basis. It’s essentially a verbal agreement & either party can withdraw from the deal without any recourse to the other. When we go ‘sale agreed’ the property is not advertised any more, and everyone is in the ‘pre-contract vacuum’. As you can imagine, vacuums aren’t nice places to be. This is why we need everyone to be as certain as possible in the transaction – when a deal falls apart it will have significant consequences for either or both of you. We ask that you conduct your negotiations on a ‘good faith, all cards on the table, keep the lines of communication open’. If you’ve got a problem, tell me. Some can be sorted & some not. It’s also why both the buyers & sellers need to keep pushing everyone involved; bank, broker, solicitors, surveyors and so on. So if I’m calling you, it’s not to put pressure on you, it’s to put pressure on the transaction (or usually your advisors!).

My main suggestion here is that you highlight any ‘red-flag’ or non-negotiables to the agent when you’re viewing. My presumption is that you’re looking at a house appropriate to your needs, that you’ve checked out the area, that it suits in terms of public transport, proximity to schools, or that you’re satisfied a rural location is what you’re after. If you prefer a house with a particular orientation, or you definitely need that extra room downstairs, much of this can be checked before-hand. Most of the property websites have great tips on viewing, what to ask the agent & even down-loadable check lists.

Arranging viewings often involves the owners to prepare & vacate the property, so any pre-viewing enquiries can save everyone some time.

If you’re about to bid, you’ll usually be asked to confirm your proof of funds, such as your AIP (loan approval in principal), and make it clear if you’re in a chain (in other words you need to sell in order to complete the transaction). Tip; you’re only a cash purchaser if you have the full purchase money in the bank on the day you make the offer! If you don’t need a mortgage, but still haven’t completed your own sale, then your not a cash purchaser.

Sometimes I’m asked ‘look, give me a shout before you sell the property’. We usually only keep you updated if you’ve actually placed a confirmed bid on a property. This is so that we’re fair to everyone in the process.

Sometimes we’ll also ask that you get a survey done before you make an offer – this can be the case for poorer quality properties or if they need quite a bit of renovation. The reason here is that banks may decline a mortgage or impose additional conditions on certain loans, so while an advance survey can involve some up-front expenditure on your behalf it can save everyone a lot of wasted time & effort in the long-run.

One other point on a survey; the purpose is to identify any fundamental or structural issues and not a ‘snag list’. Second-hand properties will usually involve some outlay after you’ve bought. You’ll usually want to do some re-decoration, maybe upgrade the boiler, add some insulation or replace some windows. Other properties may require an upgraded septic-tank. Our presumption here is that you’ve taken this into account when you’ve viewed. We give the BER on the ads and will give you the Advisory Report if you want it. What we’re trying to avoid is a ‘post sale re-negotiation’. This can be exceptionally difficult on all parties. So in other words, do your homework before you bid!

I’ll send you an email requesting a booking deposit (usually €5,000 or €10,000) & requesting some information. In order to kick off the process I’ll need some basic but important detail, usually just your name(s) & address & your solicitor’s details. You’ll need to turn this around fairly quickly as I can’t mark the property ‘sale agreed’ until I have the details & deposit, so the property is still advertised & open for other offers until this step is fully completed.

This deposit is held in my Client Account. I am licensed by the PSRA (Licence No 001731), and deposits are therefore secured by a compensation fund. (in other words, your deposit is secure!)

I’ll also ask that you arrange your bank valuation and survey within a couple of days of going ‘sale agreed’. This is really important – banks are taking considerably longer that they should to issue loan packs, so you need to make sure you’re pushing everything. Secondly, your vendors (the house sellers) will be watching for these action points to highlight to them that things are progressing.

  1. ‘Booking’ – you’re ‘sale agreed’, and the booking deposit is paid. Now you need to organize your bank valuation, survey, life assurance, property insurance & loan pack. This should take around 3 weeks.
  2. ‘Signing’ or ‘Exchange’ – you sign or exchange the contracts. You’ve only exchanged contracts if you’ve signed the contracts, paid a (usually) 10% deposit to your solicitor AND your solicitor has send the contracts and deposit back to the seller’s solicitor. If your solicitor doesn’t have this done, then you’ve not exchanged! There are a few very important details, such as whether or not your solicitor has actually posted or ‘DX’ the contracts back to the other solicitor, but you can simply ask your solicitor ‘have we a deal yet?’.
  3. ‘Closing’ this is then you (or really your solicitor) has drawn down the full purchase money from the bank & sent it to the seller’s solicitor. There’s a few last-minute checks both solicitors need to do, but after this you can usually collect your keys! TIP; in order for us to release the keys on the closing date, we must have a ‘sale closed & release the keys’ email from the sellers’ solicitor. Even though your solicitor may have transferred the full closing monies, until we have that email, we can’t hand over the keys. It’s a good idea to remind your solicitor to prompt the seller’s solicitor to let us know – sometimes they forget!

When you pay your booking deposit, I’ll also send you an email outlining some useful tips.

The legal status of ‘sale agreed’ is that the seller has agreed to sell and the buyer has agreed to buy on a ‘without prejudice’ basis. It’s essentially a verbal agreement & either party can withdraw from the deal without any recourse to the other. When we go ‘sale agreed’ the property is not advertised any more, and everyone is in the ‘pre-contract vacuum’. As you can imagine, vacuums aren’t nice places to be. This is why we need everyone to be as certain as possible in the transaction – when a deal falls apart it will have significant consequences for either or both of you. We ask that you conduct your negotiations on a ‘good faith, all cards on the table, keep the lines of communication open’. If you’ve got a problem, tell me. Some can be sorted & some not. It’s also why both the buyers & sellers need to keep pushing everyone involved; your bank, broker, solicitors, surveyors and so-on. So if I’m calling you, it’s not to put pressure on you, it’s to put pressure on the transaction (or usually your advisors!).

I’m increasingly finding that delas can get bogged down in the smallest issues between solicitors. Not all paperwork is perfect & a solicitor will sometimes say to a buyer ‘if we don’t have piece of paper A or document B, you won’t be able to sell on in the future’. I have an infamous case of one particular sale where a solicitor acting for a buyer actually advised his client that he didn’t have the right to use the estate road. How the other 99 residents in the estate could use the road without issue and this buyer couldn’t was beyond me. The entire sale was held up for weeks. There was no end of stress for both the buyer & seller, and of course the matter was resolved. The buyer could use the road after all! In its very simplest terms, all a buyer needs to know are 3 things; is the title good (usually yes); is the property sound (usually yes); does it have planning usually yes). If the property is already mortgaged by the sellers, then there’s absolutely no reason why there should be any issues now.

There are always ‘loose ends’ to tie up that can get lost during the closing process with the solicitors. For your electricity & gas accounts, all you need is the MPRN & GPRN and the readings. It’s important that the seller phones in the final readings & gives the name of the buyer (you’ll have this from the Sale Advice Note & contract). The buyer can usually phone any supplier with the readings & just set up the new account.

Phone accounts are a little more tricky. Some companies need a URN; this is virtually impossible to get so you’ll need some tenacity here.

Bins are more straight forward; contact your preferred supplier in your area. If the previous bins have not been collected, contact which ever provider’s name is on the bin. They’ll usually take them away – it’s obvious that you’ve just purchased the house & know nothing of the previous arrangement.

If there’s OFCH, there’s usually a sticker on the tank with the existing suppliers details.

Finally, we’ll give you whatever keys we have, and the owner will leave the rest in the house. Sometimes there’s a complete set including internal door keys, sometimes there’s not.

Alarms; if we have the code, we’ll give it to you. Sometimes we don’t have the code or the alarm hasn’t been used for years so you’ll need to work with your new alarm company to get things up & running.

The list can be endless – you should ask your solicitor to obtain as much of the above from the seller’s solicitor before the sale closes, as to try to get it after the event can be difficult. If there is something we can help you with, we will. Just call the office & we will try our best.