So you’ve sold your house – but just what do you need to do now?
Congratulations – your offer has been accepted and the packing now begins. If only moving house was that simple…Amidst all the excitement it is important to remember that at this stage (for properties in England and Wales) neither the buyer nor seller are legally committed to proceed with the transaction – this only happens later once you have signed and exchanged contracts.
Prior to the exchange of contracts, you can choose not to complete the purchase and you have the right to withdraw your offer without facing a financial penalty.
Similarly, the seller is not committed to the sale just because they have accepted an offer. In fact, it is possible for buyers to be gazumped – this is where a seller accepts another buyer’s higher offer after you’ve made yours. So no wonder moving home rates highly in the list of life’s stressful situations after death of a loved one or divorce!
Ask the estate agent to take it off the market
Although this is something that many estate agents will do once an offer has been accepted, it is worth asking to make sure that the house is taken off the market as soon as possible. Doing this reduces the possibility of another homebuyer visiting the property and making a higher offer – i.e. gazumping you.
Conveyancing & surveys
It is your conveyancing solicitor that will complete the legal aspect of your house move, therefore it is important that you appoint a professional and reputable solicitor who is aware of the checks and searches relevant to your property.
• Although your mortgage lender will be organising a mortgage valuation survey for the property, it is important that you commission an independent survey from a RICS chartered surveyor for a detailed report on your potential new home, which will highlight any structural issues or defects. Getting a survey can potentially save you thousands of pounds in costly repair bills – one report by Which? concluded that one in 10 homebuyers who don’t get a survey end up paying more than £10,000 on property repairs or maintenance.
• Opt for either a HomeBuyer Report or a Building Survey from a qualified surveyor registered with RICS (the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). The HomeBuyer Report rates the condition of various elements of the property using a “traffic light” system, and provides advice on repair and maintenance options where required, while the Building Survey goes into much greater detail than the HomeBuyer Report – and is usually recommended for older or larger properties, or homes in a poor state of repair – but both are equally acceptable in terms of evaluating a property’s construction and condition.
You won’t have an exact move date to give them yet, but it is worth getting in touch early with a removal company so you can ensure there is time for a pre-move visit to assess how much you have to pack. You will also be able to discuss other requirements such as difficult access and whether there are any parking restrictions at either address.
Exchange contracts and pay deposit
Once your mortgage has been approved and the necessary searches have been completed by your conveyancing solicitor, you will now be able to sign and exchange contracts, which legally commits you to the purchase of the property.
You will then be asked to pay the deposit, which is usually 10% of the property’s value. At this stage of the transaction you can no longer pull out without losing your deposit and any further costs that were incurred.
The contracts have been exchanged and the deposit has been paid, you can now agree a completion date. On the day of completion the vendors will have to vacate the property, so once you have this date you will be able to organise a day for you to move in.
You will then be able to confirm the date and the details of your move with your removal company. Although the time between exchange of contracts and completion can be anything from days to months, it is usually between five and 20 working days.
At the stage of completion the mortgage lender releases the funds for the cost of the property and ownership of the house is transferred from the vendor to the buyer.
Pick up keys
Following completion, the property is now legally yours and you can collect the keys to your new home from the vendor’s estate agent. It is best to organise a date with the estate agent a couple of weeks in advance, to ensure both parties keep a convenient time free. It is recommended, if possible, to pick up the keys before the moving date to reduce the amount of time your removal company will be waiting at either property.
How to set up a Royal Mail re-direct
Although forking out extra cash to get your post
might sound unappealing, it is well worthwhile because it will help to protect your identity and stop important documents (like new bank cards) falling into the
You also get the peace of mind of knowing that you are not missing out on any vital correspondence.
• For more information, including cost, visit www.royalmail.com