Teamwork makes the dreamwork

Teamwork makes the dreamwork

Buying and selling property is stressful – fact. It is however possible to manage that stress and, as my four year old grandson often tells me during our Lego and Magnatile marathons, “teamwork makes the dreamwork”. In this article we look at why the process of moving home can be a nervy experience and what we can do to mitigate the negatives.

As a practice we are extremely fortunate and enjoy overwhelmingly positive relations with our clients. It is of course something in relation to which we work incredibly hard. That said, as everyone knows the process of buying and selling property can be stressful and we are often asked why things take quite so long to tie up. It’s a fair question. Having received an acceptable offer there is a tendency to think that it’s job done whereas, of course, that is not the case and getting over the finishing line and to the legally binding stage can take time and nearly always longer than buyer, seller and agent want.

The fact of the matter is that like most things in life, the process has become significantly more complicated over the years. Back when I entered the profession almost 40 years ago things were far easier and most contracts concluded in a couple of weeks tops. Now an increasingly complex world tends to preclude speedy conclusions. As we explain to clients trying to coordinate and tie up a sale and a purchase, it is very much a juggling act with, for a time at least, both transactions being up in the air. Very few clients want or are able to conclude a contract for their purchase until their sale is itself legally binding.

Whilst we try to minimise the stress our clients feel, at times the very nature of Scots law and the often protracted process of getting a mortgage offer issued means that delays can be experienced and nerves can become frayed. When coupled to the tortuous reality of being in that “chain” (no longer the reserve of the English system as was once the case) a property transaction can be an anxious time.

Even seasoned home-movers are not immune. Studies show that a typical person over 50 will have lived in their home for an average of around 22 years. With changes in the law such as the complete abolition of the feudal system, the introduction of Standard Missives, Land Registration as opposed to Sasine recording of titles plus the scrapping of Stamp Duty and introduction of Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) plus all the Anti Money Laundering regulations and the need to produce perhaps Gifted Deposit letters and all manner of ID and paper trails for deposits being provided, almost everything will have changed since the last big move. Although clients may feel they have a sound understanding of what’s involved, it’s quite likely their knowledge is a little out of date.

So, can anything be done to help speed up the conveyancing process and make your transaction run more smoothly? Well whilst it’s just not possible to eliminate all stress there are indeed some steps that clients can take to minimise and manage the butterflies.

  1. Be Patient!

We’re not being flippant, and it’s far easier said than done we know, but the fact is that in about 95% of cases where we have sold a property the contracts will conclude and the move will happen. Yes, there is a 5% or so fall through rate (normally where a purchaser’s own sale collapses or their mortgage offer fails to materialise) but as we always tell clients the odds are stacked in your favour and to concentrate on the 95% success rate. Typically, missives take about 5 and 8 weeks to conclude but it’s not unusual to take longer depending upon circumstances. Sadly, it is very seldom quicker.

  1. Do get your finances in order first

The first step when preparing to buy or sell a property should be to take stock of your finances. Draw up a list of all the potential costs of your move and be sure to include conveyancing (including all disbursements), estate agent’s commission, mortgage arrangement fees and LBTT. Failure to budget early could slow down or even derail your move. One of the major delays in concluding missives and getting to a point where one has peace of mind in knowing that there is a legally binding contract is waiting for the Approval in Principal (AIP) secured from a lender turning into a fully blown written offer of loan. Given the stricter lending criteria introduced by all lenders in recent years and the possibility of AIP decisions being retracted at the full underwriting stage, few buyers, if any, will conclude a contract until such time as that formal offer lands on the doormat. Our advice is to stay in close contact with your lender and/or mortgage adviser to make sure they are aware of entry dates and have everything they need to complete the underwriting process.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

To ensure you stay in control of your move and don’t get any nasty surprises further down the line, ask as many questions as you need to. We know the process inside-out and have extensive experience of helping people who don’t, but we won’t always know what’s on your mind and causing you to feel anxious. Our standard processes, letters and information booklets try to address the most frequently asked questions but there will inevitably be questions and queries you have so please ask.

  1. Do read all documents carefully and return them promptly

As with any legal documents, it’s important that you read carefully and understand those that are sent to you during the conveyancing process. We appreciate a lot of it can seem quite dull and although we try to avoid legal jargon, there will be terms that puzzle you. So if you’re not sure about anything we would encourage you ti get in touch. We want you to understand what’s going on. Likewise, if you think we have misunderstood your instructions it’s important that you call us immediately and clarify things. It’s also important to return anything we send you for signature in a timely manner so the process can move forward without avoidable delays. If you prefer to sign here with us then that of course would be our pleasure.

  1. Don’t cancel your existing mortgage payments too soon

Wait until we have confirmed that the contracts have been concluded and a date of entry fixed. Eleventh-hour purchase collapses whilst rare are not unheard of.

  1. Don’t just go with the conveyancer who offers you the cheapest price

If you’ve received this newsletter then clearly you’ve already used the firm in the past. We hope that your experience was a positive one and that if in the future a move is on the cards that we would have the privilege of representing you. We don’t however take that for granted and know that many clients still seek another couple of quotes for comparison purposes on both service and fees. Keeping everything under one roof with a full estate agency and conveyancing service can be more cost effective and avoids scenarios where the left and the right hand don’t know what the other is doing as can be the case where an agent such as say a Your Move, a Remax or other national is handling the estate agency and a firm of solicitors the conveyancing. Whilst the nationals often have their “tame” solicitors and most are very good, be aware that those solicitors rely upon a steady stream of referrals from the agent and there is a school of thought that questions whether they attempt to and can serve two masters. The same is true of the online only agents such as Purple Bricks which is a very different quasi-DIY service with little if any assistance or negotiation advice given. It’s also worth being aware that with the likes of Purple Bricks if you chose to instruct your own solicitors you will incur a further charge (currently we think circa. £375) to replace the “kick-back” they get from the solicitors to whom they introduce volumes of conveyancing work. With an in-house conveyancing package integral to your estate agency this is a potential pitfall that simply doesn’t arise.

As we always say, buying and selling is a team effort and all about partnership working between client and agent/solicitor. We have at maloco mowat parker a winning team with a proven track record and winning mentality. Put yourself in our hands and we’ll guide you through the buying and selling process.

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