Posted on Monday, April 1, 2019


The average UK homeowner moves once every 17 years, so it’s hardly surprising that we struggle with the jargon, find the different services offered by property experts confusing and are daunted by accounts of experiences of friends and family.

In recent history the property industry has seen a huge number of changes, some industry led, some tech development and some through government intervention. The last time you moved house you may have found home improvement packs useful and the property section in your local newspaper may have been much thicker.

According to research from Zoopla, 1 in 3 of us know the street that we want to move to. but before you instruct an agent it’s worth casting your mind forward and do some preparation to ensure that your move goes as smoothly as possible.

How to prepare for selling your house

During the sales process, the solicitors of each party will go backwards and forwards raising and responding to enquiries. Every time this happens it can cause a delay and when delays accumulate, your moving date will be delayed. Where a sale takes longer to go through, the chances of fall though increase, therefore, it makes sense to do your preparation in advance. Estate agents in Northern Ireland have reached an agreement with the Law Society to improve processes including getting sellers ready earlier and everyone involved agrees that it’s shaving weeks off the sales process.

In order to keep delays to a minimum, it makes sense to avoid enquiries in the first place and the best way to do this is to have all relevant documentation ready and available from the point that you decide to put your house on the market.

In the course of your sale, you will be asked for evidence of paperwork such as FENSA certificates for replacement windows, relevant building restrictions, a building regulation certificate when alterations have taken place or a Gas Safe certificate for a new boiler.

Sale ready = sale savvy

Estate agents use the terms ‘market ready’ and ‘sale ready’ to describe properties. If you can go beyond market ready and become sale ready everyone involved will be more likely to progress your sale more quickly.  

There are 3 key areas to this:

Have your paperwork ready

There’s no point putting your head in the sand, if you have a sneaking suspicion that something is amiss with your property, the estate agent will need to cover it under consumer protection regulations or the buyer’s solicitor will raise an enquiry about.

However, it’s very rare that an issue is unsurmountable.

Look for your paperwork straight away, lay your cards on the table and if something is missing take steps to get an inspection or replacement paperwork. Sitting tight and hoping nobody asks about it is never a good tactic. 

Fill in the forms that your estate agent and solicitor give to you as soon as possible 

‘I’ll leave them on the side until the weekend’ is a common mistake.

Fill in the forms comprehensively (without leaving gaps) and accurately completing questions like ‘Is the property leasehold?’ What are parking arrangements? and get them back to the agent in order to get your transaction off and running as soon as possible.

Those gaps

Your estate agent is likely to give you a property information questionnaire, the solicitor will give you a TA6 form. Everyone comes to questions that they are unsure about on these forms. As we don’t sell our house regularly, it makes sense that things are hard to remember and it isn’t obvious what is meant by some of the language. However, guessing and leaving gaps creates delays so check in with your estate agent.

Ask for advice, they may not know which drawer the planning permission for the extension is in, but they'll be able to guide you through what’s most important and help you take steps to resolve issues.