Our Conveyancing team at Child & Child are beavering away on transactions to meet our client’s timelines, the current looming one being 30 June 2021 when the current SDLT holiday rate comes to an end.
During this exceptionally busy time, we are working with the rest of the client’s team to bring the transactions together, most importantly, the Estate Agents. Estate Agents are a wonderful help in getting past sticking points and helping to speed the transaction along to exchange and completion as soon as possible.
The Estate Agents I work with often ask how further they can bulletproof their deals i.e. assist in making sure the deals get over the line, as smoothly as possible. Whilst some of the following may seem quite basic, they can be very helpful in making sure there are minimal contentions in a transaction and can help overcome obstacles.
Memorandum of sale (MoS)
- The MoS is the Holy Bible of the Conveyancing transaction. It is referred to throughout the transaction, particularly when negotiating the contract, and therefore these should not be rushed out. The Agents should ensure:
- all spellings are correct; and
- all contact details are on the MoS.
- The MoS needs to contain all details which have been agreed between the parties, no matter how big or small. For example:
- Specific items of furniture which are to be left at the property;
- Whether the purchase price also has a separate contents price;
- A licence for alterations is to be negotiated prior to completion;
- Any agreements relating to occupation post completion (this is of particular relevance at the moment as it is being agreed in many transactions that the sale will complete by 30 June 2021, but the seller has the right to remain at the property until they have found another property to purchase);
- Any other agreed terms. The less contention later down the line, the better!
- Always send the property brochure and EPC with the MoS; again this is something we refer back to a lot, especially the floorplan which we compare to the title deeds and documents to ascertain whether any alterations have been carried out to the property which would have required consent.
- Something MoS’s do not currently include is whether the buyer is subject to mortgage finance – whilst sometimes this is a work in progress not yet decided, most times it will be decided from the outset. It would be good if this could be included in the MoS – it is something we need to know from the outset, and something the seller’s lawyer’s always asks, so can be ironed out right from the beginning.
Bulletproof your deals
- Mortgages – Agents can also do their best to assist buyers with mortgages as early on as possible i.e. when they first instruct the agent to find a property. If a buyer has an agreement in principal or a preliminary offer from a lender, this nearly always helps to ensure there are no mortgage delays later down the line.
- Protocol forms – these do take time to be filled out by sellers, and where there are exclusivity periods, these usually do not start until a complete sales pack has been sent over, which includes protocol forms. When I am instructed by sellers early on, I always send them the protocol forms early, allowing them time to complete them and get together the supplemental documents. Agents are usually familiar with the format of these forms, and the physical layout of the property, so it is helpful when they assist the seller in making sure these are correctly and thoroughly completed from the outset, and all accompanying documents also provided to us.
- Management pack / other queries raised by the buyer – where buyers have specific queries early on in a transaction e.g. in order to have their mortgage finance approved, they need to know whether the building has an EWS1 or otherwise why it is not required; or the buyer wants to negotiate for certain items of furniture to be left at the property on completion, it is very helpful if the Agents take a proactive approach in obtaining these documents or replies. Agents are the only ones who have a direct line of contact between buyer and seller and can usually get such points negotiated quickly and easily early on. It avoids queries having to go from buyer > buyer’s solicitor > seller’s solicitor > seller > all the way back again to buyer – there is no denying that this will be slower, and more chance of miscommunication than if the queries were to go from buyer > agent > seller.
- Indemnity insurance – where there may be deficiencies with the property, in most cases, indemnity insurances generally allow effective solutions and provide buyers with the comfort they need to proceed. It is always very helpful when the Agent understands a buyer’s need for an indemnity insurance and assists in getting this agreed by the seller.
Hopefully the above has given some insight into how we can work together to bulletproof our deals, and we are of course on hand to assist with any queries you may have in this regard.
Anouska Kapur – Partner, Residential Real Estate