Park & Bailey opened the Sales Progression Unit in May 1999 recognising that the road from being under offer to exchange/completion could be a bumpy one for both vendors and buyers alike. We were one of the very first estate agents to offer a dedicated sales progression service and many other agents have since followed suit.
The Unit has grown since its early days and Ginette Bronsdon – Sales Liaison Manager ably supported by Sue Hodson and Ann Hinton service the sales from offer stage to completion for all the branches for Park & Bailey and the Fine & Country office in Woldingham and Coulsdon working at the main/head office in Caterham.
Although once an offer has been accepted both vendor and buyer appoint solicitors there can be so much more to this part of the transaction, where most sales can collapse. This is why and where the unit assists by staying in touch with all parties and by parties we mean buyers/solicitors/ mortgage brokers/surveyors/managing agents/specialist surveyors and other estate agents and of course the longer the chain the longer the list. As the solicitors can normally only ‘see’ the part of the transaction that they are dealing with, this is another area the unit assists with as we can leapfrog up and down the chain and the ladies of the unit do just that, not only checking on their own property but on every single property for sale in the chain as they are all inter dependant on each other. Although the ladies assist, the key word is assist - it is very important to stay in touch with your own solicitor, agent if applicable and broker/surveyor to maintain momentum.
The one question we are asked the most is how long will it take and when can I move. Generally if the property is freehold an average time from release of draft contracts is about 8-12 weeks and longer if the property is leasehold. If there is a chain there could be a mixture of freehold and leasehold and exchange cannot take place until each and every solicitor holds a signed contract and deposit funds. If there are other complications in the chain such as properties being sold as a result of probate/buyers coming out of rental leases/or vendors going into rental leases/problems on surveys/complicated legal questions these can all affect the ability of the chain to reach exchange. The ladies in the unit cannot always impact on these but can at least keep you updated so you know where the delays are.
Moving can be a very emotional time and breakdowns in communication and a lack of understanding of the sales process do not help; that is why it is important that the ladies in the unit are there and do their utmost to ensure the sale runs smoothly for vendor and buyer alike.
So what actually happens – do read on and the key points are highlighted in blue: - Once you have accepted an offer the agents will issue a notification of sale which is essentially a contact sheet putting both sets of solicitors in touch – giving them relevant information such as address and agreed property price. Each set of solicitor will get in touch with their own respective clients and the branches pass the file to the progression unit at this point.
- The vendor’s solicitor will send out the property information form and fixtures and fittings list to the vendor and as soon as they have that back and have received the office copy entries from land registry (originally known as the deeds), they will draw up the contract and send two copies to the buyer’s solicitor. It is important that the vendor supplies all relevant information and gives copies of any guarantees/warranties/planning or building regulation information and if a leasehold property all relevant lease/management information.
- The buyer’s solicitor will ask the buyer for instructions, search fees and confirm instructions to the vendor’s solicitor and await receipt of the contract.
Both vendors and buyers can assist with their sales/purchase – ensuring that all paperwork required by the solicitors is sent back promptly. They will also need to comply with recent money laundering regulations and provide means of identification to their solicitor – one photographic and the other proof of address such as a recent utility bill and the solicitor will require original documents.
Once the draft contracts have been sent to the buyer’s solicitor they will apply for their searches – water and drainage search, Local Authority search and environmental search to name but a few. Some solicitors will wait for the results of the searches before raising enquiries; others may do so before the search results come in, raising further enquiries once the results are received if necessary. Many of the questions raised can often be dealt with by the vendor’s solicitor without reference to the vendor; using information supplied which is why it is so important for a vendor to give as much detail as they can. Some may require further input from the vendor. Solicitors may well raise further enquiries at a later stage, either as a result of the answers that have already been given, or because of further information that has come to light.
Alongside the conveyancing side the buyer will need to consider a survey – if there is a lender involved then a basic valuation survey will be done, or the buyer can commission a homebuyers or full survey depending on the age of the property. Again the ladies in the unit do keep track of all these events and assist with any questions or queries that the buyers or vendor may have. As a result of the survey the buyer may instruct further inspections and may also renegotiate as a result. Once these key points have been passed each solicitor will report to their respective clients with the contracts for signing. (The buyers solicitor returns one of the copies to the vendors solicitor when they approve the contract and retains one for the buyer to sign, the other is sent to the vendor by the vendors solicitor and they are both exactly the same). When the solicitors hold signed contracts and deposits then the exchange can take place. The contract always allows for 10% of the purchase price however solicitors will regularly ask to reduce the deposit to 5%. A vendor may also need to top up a deposit if buying on for more. A completion date is agreed with all parties and exchange takes place. This is where the transaction is now legally binding and there are financial implications if any party withdraws before completion.
The process of exchange starts at the bottom of the chain. The solicitor acting for the buyer at the bottom offers a “release”; this means they release the contract for exchange to the solicitor above them. This process goes up the chain to the top. If the release is accepted all the way up, then the exchange will have taken place. If the release isn't accepted all the way up to the top of the chain by close of business then the exchange has not taken place and the whole process has to start again on the following working day. Agreeing completion dates can also be a rocky road as everyone will have their own needs and criteria for moving and it is often very hard to see another’s need for a particular date as more important than your own. The ladies in the unit do try to accommodate everyone’s needs but the more flexible you can be the easier.
On the day of completion – moving day - the solicitors arrange the transfer of the balance of funds. The contract normally requires that you vacate the property by 1pm but stay in touch with the estate agent who will ultimately be the ones who hand over the keys to the buyer if you are running behind. The time of day that completion takes place can also be dictated by the length of chain you find yourself in and the speed with which each respective solicitor transfers the monies from their account. On occasions the completion will go beyond the 1pm deadline but your solicitor should keep you informed of developments. It is very, very rare for a completion not to take place on the date set. It is always advisory to take out your moving companies insurance which would cover any additional costs of a delayed completion day.
Unpack and enjoy your new home.. and when you next move remember Park & Bailey