What you should do at the very start
You have to complete some questionnaires about the property, designed to give relevant information to the buyer. These are called ‘property information forms’. Your solicitors should send them to you as soon as they are instructed, so that you can complete them and return them with any necessary papers.
No one likes completing forms; but these ones are relatively easy – they mainly require you to tick boxes – but they do go on for several pages and may take you more than a single sitting to complete, so you should tackle them as early on in the transaction as possible. Some of the questions may require you to dig out some old documents or obtain duplicates if they have been lost.
You can lose time if you only tackle the questions after you have accepted an offer from a buyer. So, it is always best to instruct your solicitors even before you have found a buyer, and make sure they send you the forms for you to complete
Your solicitors’ first steps
As soon as an offer is accepted, your estate agent will send details to your solicitors and the buyers’ solicitors. Your solicitors should then send the buyers’ solicitors a pack of papers which will include the following: a draft contract, property information forms, a list of contents, copies of the title documents, guarantees, and planning and building regulation approvals.
For flats or other leasehold properties, you should add to this list service charge accounts and buildings insurance information, which you may need to get from managing agents or the landlord.
What your buyer should be doing
Your buyers should be arranging their mortgage and survey. Usually, the buyers will have approval in principle on a mortgage loan from the lenders they have selected, and all that remains is for the lenders to check your property to make sure it’s worth what they are lending (plus a margin for safety in case the market falls).
As soon as they receive the application from the buyers, they should arrange for a mortgage valuation to be carried out. This involves a local surveyor coming round the property and giving it a fairly short inspection. The buyer may rely on that without having a proper survey. But some buyers will have a survey, and this involves a surveyor doing a full check on the property, which may take a few hours.
What are the buyers solicitors doing?
The solicitors should be going through the papers supplied to them and making sure there are no problems. If there are any issues on which they want further information, they should write to your solicitors with enquiries, which your solicitors should either answer themselves, or take up with you if they are practical matters.
The buyer’s solicitor has to arrange local authority search, and other searches on the property, in order to check out whether there are any public matters recorded against the property which would be a problem for the buyers.