Selling a Property FAQs, Conveyancing Lawyers Aberdeen & Stonehaven
Our aim at James & George Collie is to provide an excellent service in marketing your property and securing the best possible price for you. We have a prominent property sales office in the centre of Aberdeen, an attractive and easily accessible website and dedicated property staff who specialise in the property market.
The First Steps
If you are interested in selling your property please get in touch with us and we will arrange for one of our property valuers to visit your property to give you a free, no-obligation estimate on its current market value. Our property valuer will also be able to answer any queries you have in connection with the sale process and provide you with an accurate estimate of all the relevant costs.
The Home Report
If you decide to proceed to place your property on the market for sale there is now a legal requirement to have a Home Report prepared before the property is advertised.
The Home Report consists of three elements. The first is the Property Questionnaire which is completed by you, the owner. The questionnaire provides useful information to potential purchasers such as the council tax band, details of the utility suppliers and information on any alterations which you have carried out to the property.
The second element of the Home Report is the Energy Performance Certificate which rates your property for energy efficiency and provides recommendations on how to make the property more efficient, thereby saving money.
The third part of the Home Report is often seen as the most important section. This is the report on the condition of the property along with a market valuation. Both the Energy Performance Certificate and the condition report/valuation are prepared by a Chartered Surveyor who we can instruct on your behalf and co-ordinate with in connection with the production of the final report. This last section of the Home Report is similar to a detailed survey report and provides information on the construction of the property, its current condition, any points of concern and of course the open market value.
The surveyor will invoice you separately for preparing the Home Report. Some surveyors will accept payment by instalments.
Preparing for Market
One of our property sales staff will come out to your property and will take the relevant details such as measurements in order to prepare a sales brochure. This will be forwarded to you in draft format for approval. We will also arrange for professional photographs to be taken which will present your property as attractively as possible. The photographer will take both exterior and interior photos and, if appropriate, photographs of the views from the property. We can also arrange to have copies of plans incorporated into the sales brochure which is helpful if you have for instance planning permission to extend or redevelop your property.
The final decision to be made is what asking price to set. This will be determined to a great extent by the Home Report valuation as the Home Report is accessible to all potential purchasers. Usually an asking price is set close to the valuation of the property. Our property sales staff can discuss this in detail with you.
Properties are usually advertised either at “offers over” a certain price or at a “fixed price”. An offers over price allows you to be flexible in negotiating a suitable sale price for your property. It also allows competition between prospective purchasers, ideally leading to a closing date being set. Closing dates are described in further detail below. Alternatively, you can place your property on the market at a fixed price. This means that you agree to sell the property to the first person who offers the asking price. It is possible that you will receive offers below the asking price although you are not obliged to accept any offer which you are not completely happy with.
On the Market
Once this preparatory work has been finalised your property will be ready to be placed on the market for sale. There will be a small proportion of costs which will require to be paid at the outset but the vast majority of sale charges will be deducted from the sale proceeds at the very end of the transaction.
Your property will then be promoted and advertised in our city centre property shop, our main office at 1 East Craibstone Street, Aberdeen and our office in the centre of Stonehaven. Your property will appear on our website as well as the Aberdeen Solicitors Property Centre website and printed brochure. You will also have a choice of professionally printed brochures using professional photography to ensure the best possible presentation of your property. There will also be a colour advertisement in the Press & Journal’s property supplement when your property first appears on the market for sale.
Our sales staff will discuss and co-ordinate advertising with you. They will obtain feedback from prospective purchasers who have visited and viewed your property and will keep in regular contact with you to update you on any developments.
In connection with the viewings you can either arrange to show your property personally or by using our viewing agents, or indeed a combination of both. We will set closing dates as required and deal with the negotiation of any offers received.
Closing Dates and Offers
If a person is genuinely interested in your property then their solicitor will contact us to “note interest” on their behalf. This confirms that the viewer is seriously interested and wants to be kept advised of any developments such as other parties submitting an offer.
If there is only one note of interest in your property then it is likely the interested party will submit an offer which we can deal with to in order to achieve a negotiated sale.
If however your property has two or more notes of interest then it is likely that we will attempt to fix a closing date for offers. This is the deadline by which all offers have to be submitted. A closing date is a blind bidding process where sealed offers are handed over to be opened at the same time. Once the offers have been opened you will usually wish to accept the highest offer but you are not obliged to accept the highest or indeed any offer submitted at a closing date.
As well as the price, the offers submitted will also include information such as the date of entry (the date on which the purchaser wishes to pay the price in exchange for receiving keys) as well as any extras such as white goods, furniture etc to be included.
If your property is advertised at a fixed price then it will usually be sold to the first person who offers the asking price. It is of course possible for you to accept a figure below the fixed price although you are not obliged to do so.
The Contract - Missives
Once an acceptable offer has been received for your property then there will be an exchange of letters between your solicitor and the purchasing agents. These are called the missives. An offer generally contains approximately 30 clauses including the price, date of entry, additional items to be included and more technical conditions relating to the title deeds, alterations and the legal conveyancing process.
Due to the number of conditions included in an offer it is very unlikely that it will be met by a completely unqualified or straight acceptance. In most cases your solicitor will issue what is know as a qualified acceptance which amends or deletes some of the conditions in the original offer. Some amendments, including those relating to the title deeds and any structural alterations to the property may take some time to resolve and a number of letters passing back and forth between purchasing and selling solicitors.
Once all the relevant conditions and amendments have been agreed the missives, or contract, will be concluded and legally binding on both you and the purchaser. At this point neither party can back out. The purchaser’s obligation is to pay the full purchase price on the agreed date of entry. Your obligation is to sign over ownership of the property to the purchaser and hand over the keys.
The Title Deeds and Conveyancing Process
Once the legal contract is in place your solicitor will send the title deeds of the property to the purchaser’s solicitor who will then examine these in detail. The purchasing solicitor will then prepare a document which transfers ownership from you to the purchaser. This is known as a Disposition and it sets out details of the parties, the price, the date of entry and will also refer to the older title deeds or the registration number of the property in the Land Register of Scotland. The final version of this document will be signed by you just before the date of entry.
During this period of time your solicitor will also be in contact with your bank or building society in order to complete all documentation required to discharge or remove the lender’s security or charge over the property. Your solicitor will obtain search reports from the Land Register which will be exhibited to the purchaser’s solicitor confirming that you are the registered owner of the property and that there are no legal impediments to the sale proceeding such as any bankruptcies or other legal charges. A search will also be obtained from the local authority’s records in order to assure the purchaser that there are no adverse planning applications, outstanding building warrants or the like affecting the property. For rural properties additional work may require to be undertaken such as providing an analyst’s report on a private water supply, clarifying rights of access and registering drainage systems with SEPA.
On the date of entry your solicitor will receive the agreed sale price for your property and from this the outstanding balance on your mortgage account will be repaid. The signed Disposition, the title deeds and keys for the property will be handed over to the purchaser’s solicitor in exchange. This is the settlement process.
After settlement your solicitor will advise the local authority’s council tax department and any private factoring company of the change of ownership in order that charges can be apportioned between seller and purchaser. Finally the free sale proceeds, the balance left after payment of all costs and repayment of your mortgage, will be sent to you with a final account or, alternatively, put towards the purchase price of your new property if you are purchasing on the same day. This then brings the transaction to an end.
Contact our Property Solicitors based in Aberdeen today
Selling a property doesn’t need to be a complicated process. We provide advice that is clear and straightforward, delivered in plain English to help you make decisions that are right for you. Contact our residential conveyancing solicitors today on 01224 581581 or fill out our online contact form and see how we can help you.