When selling your property, the work conducted by your solicitor/conveyancer is aimed at taking on complex tasks and explaining the process.
Selling a house can be daunting, and many legal considerations need to be considered to ensure a smooth and successful sale, such as preparing the contract, and legal documents, dealing with the buyers’ enquiries, providing an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and checking the Property Information Forms. It is also important to consider issues such as property boundaries, Capital Gains Tax, and the conveyancing process itself. Understanding what each of these issues includes is an important step in understanding the work of your conveyancer.
This article explores eight important issues that have to be considered when selling your home in England and Wales, many of them are legal considerations that your solicitor will take care of as part of their processes. During Conveyancing Week, we look to understand the work being carried out by many conveyancers behind the scenes, helping sales and purchases to go as smoothly as possible. Plus, whether you are a first-time seller or have sold properties before, understanding what goes on behind the scenes can help ensure a successful and stress-free sale!
1 – Conveyancing/selling or buying
Conveyancing is the name of the legal process of transferring the ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer. It is essential to work with a qualified solicitor or conveyancer who can handle the legal aspects of the sale, including the drafting and review of contracts, the transfer of funds, important examination of the ownership documents (the “title”) and the registration of ownership with the Land Registry. This involves dealing with a number of people and agencies on your behalf, such as the Inland Revenue and your mortgage lender.
2 – Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
An EPC is required when selling a residential property in England and Wales. The EPC rates the energy efficiency of the property on a scale from A to G, with A being the most energy efficient. The certificate is valid for 10 years and must be provided to the buyer before you market your property to sell or rent.
3 – Capital Gains Tax
Subject to certain conditions, you do not usually pay Capital Gains Tax when you sell your main home, this is the one in which you live. If you sell a property that isn’t your home, or you live abroad, you may need to pay Capital Gains tax. A specialist tax advisor can help you understand whether any tax might be payable.
4 – Property Information Forms
When selling a residential property, the seller is required to complete a Property Information Form and a Fittings and Contents Form – your conveyancer will provide these important forms to you and ask you to complete these. Of course, the conveyancer will also help with any questions you may have about the forms. It is also important that the seller then looks for any paperwork requested in the forms such as planning permission for an extension they carried out.
The Property Information Form provides the buyer with details about the property, such as any disputes or complaints with neighbours, building work or renovations, and any guarantees or warranties that are still valid. The Fittings and Contents Form lists all the items that are included in the sale, such as appliances or light fixtures and of course what the seller is not going to leave.
5 – Property Boundaries
It is important that the property boundaries are defined and any disputes with neighbours over the boundaries are resolved before completing the sale. This can include which fence the seller maintains. Your conveyancer will also check the title deeds to see if there is any indication as to which boundary is yours.
6 – Estate Agent’s Fees
If you are using an estate agent to sell your property, you will need to pay their fees, which are typically a percentage of the sale price. It is important to shop around and compare fees from different agents to ensure you are getting the best price.
7 – Repairs and Renovations
You should consider any repairs or renovations that may be required before putting your property on the market, this may help to get a faster offer to buy. Addressing these issues before the sale can help to increase the property’s value.
8 – Timing
The timing of your sale can have a significant impact on the price you receive and the speed of the sale. Factors such as the time of year, market conditions, and the state of the economy can all impact the sale price. It is important to consider these factors when deciding when to put your property on the market, and to be prepared for the possibility that the sale may take longer than expected.
National Conveyancing Week
National Conveyancing Week runs from Monday 20th March to Friday 24th March and focuses on explaining the work of conveyancers. Much of the work done by those in this profession goes unseen and can be complex, leading to misunderstandings about what is involved. A lot goes into selling a property, but these experts do it each and every day, dealing with the challenges faced.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.