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What Can Estate Agents & Sellers Do To Help Conveyancers

There seems to be a disconnect between what the parties want to happen, and how quickly, and what the Conveyancer needs to do, and how long that takes.  With differing viewpoints it can be tricky but all parties need to work together to achieve exchange and completion. Conveyancing will always be contentious and stressful for those involved. There are so many parties and each will be coming from a different place and have their own focus. This makes it difficult to synchronise.


But what can Estate Agents and Sellers do in particular to help the Conveyancing process?



MEMORANDUM OF SALE

The Memorandum of Sale confirms the sellers‘ and buyers’ names and addresses. It sets out each Conveyancer's contact details, the price and any fixtures, fittings and contents. To avoid queries it is vital that correct names and addresses are shown. Errors in the Memorandum result in the seller’s Conveyancer issuing an incorrect contract. Enquiries will be raised and contracts must be redrawn. As ID checks may not be concluded the Conveyancer is relying on the details within the Estate Agent’s Memo. Estate Agents are regulated and check / hold identification, as do Conveyancers. A comprehensive Memo will avoid errors and unnecessary enquiries. Any duplication of work adds to the time it takes to reach exchange and completion.



PARTICULARS & BROCHURE

The Sales Particulars are a brochure with photos and a floor plan.  It lists the number of rooms and man property features.  Providing this to both sides ensures they are aware of alterations and additions. It should also show the EPC rating. If the EPC is out of date then it must be renewed. EPCs are valid for 10 years. An accurate Sales Particulars will save time and avoid unnecessary enquiries about alterations at the property. Remember that the Conveyancer does not go to the property but is required by lenders to ensure that it has all necessary Pkanning Permissions and Building Regulations.



VALID EPC

Energy Performance Certificates are valid for 10 years.  It saves time if the Estate Agent asks the seller to arrange for a new EPC where it has expired. To confirm the EPC status you can check the online EPC register:



FREEHOLD OR LEASEHOLD

Leaseholds are far more complex and time-consuming than Freeholds. They result in even more parties being involved in the Conveyancing process and cause additional delays. It is not always obvious that a property is Leasehold. Overlooking this results in delays down the line.  You can have Leasehold houses. You can also have Freehold houses with communal areas maintained via service charges. These, like Leaseholds, involve a Management Company and Management Pack and it takes time for the Management Company to collate the information for the pack.



ORDER MANAGEMENT PACKS

For Leaseholds ensure the seller contacts the Management Company and Freeholder to order Leasehold Management Packs (LPE1). There may be two packs. One covers Ground Rent and the other Service Charges. They also include Post Completion and Land Registry requirements. A Buyer will be unable to have the Property registered in their name if they don't jump through the Management Company’s post completion hoops. The Buyer's Conveyancer will insist on having the packs and they can take months to arrive.


Even with Freehold properties there can be a Service Charges for maintenance of communal areas. Councils no longer adopt these and they are not covered by Council Tax on newer Estates. Again a pack is needed and should be obtained as soon as possible.



PEOPERTY EXTENT

Property can be registered at HM Land Registry under several title numbers or parcels of land.  This could be one parcel of land for the house and another for the garden for example. If the Seller mentions anything about acquiring an additional piece of land advise both Conveyancers. If this is missed it means the Seller's Conveyancer could be unaware when issuing the Draft Contract Pack. Consequently the Buyer's Conveyancer will receive a defective Draft Contract Pack and order searches that do not cover all of the parcels of land. A second set of searches will be required and the Buyer will pay twice for searches.  Search results take time to arrive. 7 to 10 working days in most cases although it can take longer. During Covid searches took several months.



ID CHECKS

Esrate Agents are regulated and required to obtain satisfactory ID so why not provide this to the Conveyancer to speed matters up. Buyers and Sellers are often frustrated with having to provide ID over and over again to different parties. For valid ID ensure you meet in person, see original documents and that you verify and have adequately stamped and certified the copies of ID. This will be incredibly helpful to the Conveyancer and cut time taken for regulatory compliance. .



ATTENDING THE PROPERTY

Remember that neither Conveyancer will attend at the property. If there are obvious alterations then address these with the Seller and Estate Agent to ensure they locate all structural guarantees, invoices, warranties, planning permissions and building regulations certificates. This avoids delays and enquiries. Planning Permission and Building Regulations are two different things and you may need both.



PROBATE

If the Seller mentions probate being required or that they are selling on behalf of a deceased family member, check that they already hold the Grant of Probate. Probate applications can take more than six months for the Government to complete. Delay and frustration ensue.



HOUSING ASSOCIATION

Housing Associations often have buy back or consent requirements. The buyer may need to be approved by the Housing Association. This causes delays as it is often missed during the early stages and results in a delay later on.



DUE DILIGENCE & COMPLIANCE

Conveyancers are heavily regulated with time-consuming compliance. It is frustrating to all parties, including the Conveyancer.  Pressuring Conveyancers will not be helpful as their hands are tied by Regulations. Pressuring the Conveyancer may also "Red Flag" the issue if there is an unnecessary amount of haste about a transaction.

No Conveyancer, or law firm, will risk regulatory intervention or removal from the lender panel because parties are dismayed at the time conveyancing takes.



SOURCE OF FUNDS

Help the Conveyancer by making sure the Buyer understands the intrusive requirement to provide Source of Funds and Wealth evidence. This means a full paper trail evidencing the same and not just where funds are held but how theywere acquired over time. The Government implemented these requirements to prevent crime and fraud. It is not Conveyancers being pedantic. Conveyancers face sanctions for non-compliance.



INDEMNITY INSURANCE

This is an insurance policy obtained to cover a title defect Not all title defects can be covered with indemnity insurance. It depends on the defect. Remember that Indemnity insurance does not solve the defect it just insures it. There is also no guarantee that a claim under indemnity insurance would be successful. Some lenders and buyers will not be happy with such flimsy cover and require the defect be solved.



CHASING

Allow Conveyancers sufficient time to action correspondence, emails and calls. Post will be dealt with in date order of receipt.  It is impossible to instantly action all letters, calls and emails due to the sheer volume.


Chasing constantly slows Conveyancers down as they cannot get to the file and are waylaid with calls or emails.


Conveyancing is NOT like an Amazon purchase. The average is about 15 weeks but varies as each chain is unique.



The above is meant to be helpful and is not a criticism of Estate Agents or Sellers or anyone in the Profession. We can all do our bit to improve the Conveyancing experience.

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