Chos­ing the right team is es­sen­tial to mak­ing speedy sales

Yorkshire Post - Property - - FRONT PAGE - Ed­ward Stoyle

IT’S a Carter Jonas leg­end.

The house was a Vic­to­rian prop­erty in York. The viewer was a young Chi­nese lady. The time was 10am. She said: “I’ll pay the price but I want a quick deal”. We said: “About three to four weeks?” “No, I want to be in by tonight”.

We ex­changed con­tracts at 1pm and com­pleted at 5pm. Twenty years on, it re­mains our fastest ever trans­ac­tion.

I was re­minded of this the other day, when we ex­changed con­tracts on an­other Vic­to­rian house in York, just eight days af­ter agree­ing a sale. This time it was more con­ven­tional, with an agent, two sets of so­lic­i­tors, a sur­vey, and a mort­gage. Our cel­e­bra­tions raised two ques­tions: Does it re­ally mat­ter if a sale takes a long time to ex­change con­tracts? And if it does, how do you en­sure it hap­pens quickly?

The an­swer to the first ques­tion is easy. It is rarely in any­one’s in­ter­ests to have a drawn out ex­change, es­pe­cially in to­day’s jumpy mar­ket. The longer it takes, the greater the like­li­hood of ei­ther party pulling out, so most peo­ple would pre­fer to see an ex­change of con­tracts within no more than a month. More dif­fi­cult is mak­ing it hap­pen.

The start­ing point has to be a care­ful choice of es­tate agent. He or she will be ad­vis­ing you on one of the largest fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions of your life. You need to be ab­so­lutely sure that they will not only find you a buyer at the right price but will also act like a ter­rier af­ter a sale has been agreed, en­sur­ing the trans­ac­tion goes through.

Any seller or buyer should also take just as much trou­ble when choos­ing a solic­i­tor. They rarely do. When did you last hear of any­one ar­rang­ing to meet a solic­i­tor (or two) with a view to de­cid­ing which lawyer would be the one for their sale? Do try to see them in per­son, judge their ca­pa­bil­ity and ask them who’s in charge if they go on hol­i­day.

In most cases buy­ers will also need a mort­gage, which may be ar­ranged through an In­de­pen­dent Fi­nan­cial Ad­vi­sor. Again, ap­ply the same rule. An ef­fi­cient IFA can also gin­ger up your lender. Fi­nally, there is the sur­veyor. That one is a bit trick­ier, as he may be cho­sen by your lender. How­ever, it may be pos­si­ble to use a sur­veyor who is known to be ef­fi­cient but also, in the case of a pe­riod house, has a good knowl­edge of older prop­er­ties.

Re­turn­ing to our eight-day ex­change, we were lucky to have a sen­si­ble seller, a sen­si­ble buyer and a dream team of pro­fes­sional ad­vi­sors.

The seller’s solic­i­tor, David Ball of Fraser Daw­barns in Wis­bech, im­me­di­ately iden­ti­fied two po­ten­tial prob­lems, re­lat­ing to a flood threat and ear­lier un­der­pin­ning. Re­as­sur­ing doc­u­ments were ob­tained.

“Sellers don’t like to think about any prob­lems un­til they are raised part way through the trans­ac­tion. We send out a Prop­erty In­for­ma­tion Form with our ini­tial care let­ter and in­sist that our sellers com­plete it, to iden­tify po­ten­tial hic­cups at an early stage. As soon as the sale has been agreed, the Con­tents Form is emailed to the seller re­flect­ing what the par­ties have agreed. I can pre­pare a con­tract and have it emailed out to the buyer’s solic­i­tor in un­der an hour, so there is no ex­cuse for de­lays,” says David.

David is the first to ad­mit that much also hinges on the buyer’s solic­i­tor: “Some of them are sim­ply cov­er­ing their backs with nu­mer­ous ques­tions, many of which are of lit­tle rel­e­vance. Nick Billing­ham of Lan­g­leys in York, who was act­ing for the buyer, just asked ques­tions that mat­tered.”

Over to Nick, who has strong views on the sub­ject. He re­ports that all cor­re­spon­dence was via speedy email and searches were done elec­tron­i­cally. Un­be­liev­ably, a sig­nif­i­cant mi­nor­ity of so­lic­i­tors still won’t use email, Make sure your solic­i­tor isn’t one of those.

So that’s how the eight-day ex­change was done. With the right at­ti­tude and the right team in place, is there any rea­son why it should not be­come the norm?

Ed­ward Stoyle is a part­ner and head of agency at the York of­fice of Carter Jonas.

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