Why it pays to be prepared

Published 22 February 2019

documents webFor everyone involved in a property sale, there is nothing more frustrating than when a buyer pulls out of the deal between making the offer and exchange of contracts. 

Sadly, this happens all too frequently: the generally accepted figure is that around a third of all deals fall through during this period, although NAEA Propertymark recently published a study claiming the figure is closer to a half.  Whichever is correct, it’s far too high.

The consequences for the vendor are all too real.  Apart from the considerable hassle and stress of seeing your sale fall through (and in the process, quite possibly losing the home you want to buy as well), there is a real financial cost involved for vendors who may have applied or a mortgage, commissioned a survey on the home they are buying, and/or started the legal process.

The Homeowners Alliance suggest that the average cost of an aborted deal for a vendor is £2,727.  That means that a staggering £818 million is wasted by homeowners in England and Wales each year on sales that don’t materialise.

Sometimes the breakdown of a deal is just one of those things: perhaps the survey shows up something unexpected, or the purchaser comes up against mortgage problems.  But all too often the length of time the process takes is the cause of the buyer’s cold feet. 

The good news is that this is a factor that vendors can do something about.  The main reason that there can be such a delay between the offer being made and exchange of contracts is that the sale is not sufficiently prepared. 

For example, gathering important documents such as building regulations certificates on works carried out, copies of planning permissions, FENSA certificates for replacement windows and so on, all takes time – and this is something which can easily be done before the property goes onto the market.

It is also useful to instruct a solicitor prior to an offer being made, so that you can be ‘legally prepared’ to progress the sale as quickly as possible.

Helping vendors pull all of this together at the marketing stage should be an integral part of the service and advice that an estate agent offers.  We take it very seriously at Arnolds Keys, and as a result we see fewer than one in five offers not proceeding to completion – and most of those are for reasons such as survey results, which are outside anyone’s control.

It was Robert Baden-Powell who came up with the motto ‘be prepared’ for the Scouts.  It’s a very useful tip for those selling a house, too – if only so you don’t give your buyer time to get cold feet and walk away.

Martyn Baum | Group Residential Manager 

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