selling your home

How can you avoid delays when selling a house?

So, you’ve accepted an offer on your house, and you’re keeping your fingers and toes crossed that the sale goes through smoothly without any hiccups.

Unfortunately, delays in the house selling process are not uncommon. House sales are currently taking longer to complete due to the unprecedented demand from buyers that has arisen since the pandemic began. Mortgage providers and conveyancers are struggling to keep up.

So how can you reduce the risk of significant delays scuppering your moving plans?

Set a realistic asking price

According to recent research by Rightmove, listing your home for the right price from day one doubles your chances of finding a buyer. Sellers who set a high price and then reduce it typically wait longer to receive an acceptable offer. 

No matter how much you love your home, park your emotions at the door when it comes to setting the asking price. Research recent sale prices for similar properties in your area and invite at least three estate agents to value your property. Don’t just go with the highest valuation — some estate agents will quote a high price just to secure your business.

Instruct a solicitor or conveyancer as soon as possible

Don’t wait until you’ve accepted an offer on your property. Most of the legal work on the seller’s side can be completed before you have a buyer. Get the ball rolling early so that you can nip any problems in the bud and avoid delays further along the sales process. Some of the documentation you have to complete, such as the Seller’s Property Information Form, is lengthy and time-consuming. You may also discover that there are documents or certificates missing that you need to track down or replace. Get started early so that when the perfect offer comes in, you’re ready to send the buyer all the necessary paperwork straight away.

If you instruct a legal professional on a “no sell, no fee” basis, there is no financial risk in asking them to start the process asap.

Seek out the best professional help

The cost of selling a house can quickly add up, and it may be tempting to go with whichever estate agent and solicitor quote the lowest fee. However, make sure you shop around, check out customer reviews and ask the right questions — how much experience do they have managing a sale like yours? Are they contactable when you’re likely to need them? How many other house sales are they currently juggling?

The old saying, “you get what you pay for”, is often true. If your estate agent isn’t proactive or your conveyancer is overworked, this could affect how long it takes to sell your house.

Make sure you have a valid EPC

Every homeowner must have an up to date Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before they market their property. If you’re not sure whether you have an EPC or can’t find it, use the “Find an energy certificate” service on the gov.uk website. You’ll need to find an accredited assessor to visit your property and issue a certificate if you don’t have a valid one.

Keep in touch with your estate agent and solicitor

Your estate agent and solicitor (or conveyancer) will probably be juggling a heavy workload of clients. Sometimes you might need to get in touch and give a little nudge to keep the sale moving forward. A brief email or quick phone call is generally enough to put you front and centre of their mind. Beware of pestering the professionals you are working with, though, as this will soon lead to frustration and resentment, which could make them less inclined to work on your sale!

Skip the traditional house sale route

An on-market sale with an estate agent takes around four to five months, on average. And it can take a lot longer if the property for sale is rundown or in an unpopular location. But there are alternative ways to sell a house.

At a traditional auction, interested buyers attend an auction house and bid on your property. If there is a winning bid, the buyer must exchange contracts on the day of auction and complete the sale within 28 days. A modern auction operates similarly but takes place online. The buyer has 56 days to complete the sale after placing the winning bid. House cash buyers offer the fastest route to sale. They will buy your house for cash in as little as seven days. Their offer will be below market value, but the risk of delays is low, and this is the only way to get a guaranteed house sale.

Sometimes delays in the house selling process are inevitable, but you can take steps to give yourself the best chance of a quick and easy house sale. Set a realistic asking price, plan ahead, consider all your options and stay organised. And if you do experience delays, this preparation will help keep them to a minimum.

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