Residential property specialist, Victoria Cranwell, explains why it’s so important to consider your home’s legal appeal, as well as its physical appearance before it’s put on the market.
To discuss your residential property requirements, including requesting a conveyancing quote, please contact our Property Team by email, or call them on 01225 462871. You can also request a conveyancing quote online.
The weeks and months before marketing your home will see you busily improving its cosmetic kerb appeal. Indeed, your makeover will no doubt be so dazzling you’ll be questioning your decision to sell.
But it’s unlikely that you’ll have given much if any thought to your property’s attractiveness from a legal perspective. All the time, energy, and money spent to captivate your potential purchaser can prove wasted once their conveyancing solicitor casts a beady legal eye over the documents.
Poor legal kerb appeal can result in lengthy delays in the conveyancing process or even to your sale falling through. Remember, while your misty-eyed buyer may be willing to accept the odd unwelcome surprise, their solicitor, who will also act for the mortgage lender, definitely won’t be wearing the same rose-tinted spectacles.
Improving legal kerb appeal involves addressing legal problems before you find a buyer.
Always instruct your solicitor early
These problems may involve issues concerning matters as diverse as rights of way, easements, planning consents, boundaries, boilers, double glazing, and a host of other potential legal hot potatoes. Only once identified can they be rectified, or a course of action agreed to reduce the prospect of problems later on.
For this reason, the best approach is always to instruct your conveyancing solicitor early, as soon as you decide to market the property. Don’t wait until you’ve accepted an offer.
Property Information Form (TA6)
Much of your work in improving legal kerb appeal involves providing your solicitor with everything they need to do a thorough job. This begins with the Property Information Form (TA6). The information you provide in this document forms the basis of the contract pack which will be sent to your buyer’s solicitor. The TA6 must be completed fully, accurately and honestly. If you are unsure about anything, seek guidance from your solicitor. Do not skip over sections, or worse still, hazard a guess.
Although comprehensive, the TA6 is nevertheless a standard form. If you feel something is not covered, advise your solicitor and let them be the judge of whether it’s important. While it may seem counter-intuitive, it’s best to focus on what you consider to be your property’s weaknesses – leave its strengths to the estate agent!
Until your solicitor has all of the information they require, a full contract pack cannot be sent to the buyer’s solicitor. This includes providing them with all relevant documents.
During your tenure, you will have received innumerable certificates, receipts, guarantees and other documents. Typical examples are FENSA, electrical completion and NHBC certificates, planning permissions, sign offs for building regulations, and a host of different warranties, some of which may have found their way to that ‘very safe place’ that lurks somewhere in every home.
If it’s clear one or more documents are missing, your solicitor will advise you on rectifying the situation, possibly saving considerable time down the road.
Leasehold Management Pack
If your property is leasehold you must apply to (and pay) your managing agent for a bundle of documents called a Leasehold Management Pack, which will form part of the contract pack. It contains details about the freehold management, ground rent and service charges which apply to your property. This may sound straightforward, but the pack can often take many weeks to arrive. Another reason to instruct your solicitor early!
Take action immediately
It’s obvious, but if your solicitor discovers or confirms anything untoward, follow their advice and rectify the situation promptly. Many problems that at first glance seem unfixable can, with their guidance, be put right.
Even those that might prove more intractable can often be addressed by taking out an indemnity insurance policy. A one-off premium protects against a specific risk affecting the property. Buyers are often happy to accept such a policy as a solution to a potential problem, although their mortgage lender must also approve such policies, and seeking this approval can again, take time.