This account of the sale of my flat and the purchase of a house may be of interest to people.
I decided to get my flat on the market before I started to look for a house. I thought that my flat might be on the market for a month or two before I got a good offer, so I thought that I’d have plenty of time to look for a house.
I started to get valuations of my flat from estate agents in June 2015. One estate agent gave a guide price significantly higher than the others. I thought this guide price was too high but I decided to sign up with this estate agent anyway. As it turned out this estate agent was (more or less) right since I got an offer close to the guide price within five days of my flat going on the market. My buyer was a cash buyer and had bought property from the estate agent before and was supposedly willing to sign the contract and then wait up to six months to completion. That sounded very good to me. I accepted the offer and took my flat off the market.
It later turned out that my buyer apparently didn’t mean literally that he’d be willing to wait up to six months after exchange. He probably meant that he was willing to wait a number of months for me to find a house. I’ll be charitable and assume that he never meant to deceive me about this.
At that point (when I accepted the offer) I hadn’t got a solicitor but it was straightforward to find one. I chose one that had online reviews. This solicitor turned out to be fairly good. One problem later on was that my solicitor told me that I had to pay an extra fee because I have a share of the freehold (there are two flats in the house and the owners of the flats share the freehold). I didn’t mind the extra fee but I wasn’t pleased to find that I had to pay the extra fee immediately and it wasn’t included in the “no sale/no fee” guarantee covering the rest of my solicitor’s fees for selling my flat.
When I put my flat on the market I didn’t realise that so much would depend on the goodwill of my co freeholders. My buyer has been in communication with them and without assurances of their goodwill I think my buyer might have pulled out. I’ll be glad when my flat is sold and I no longer have to think about leases and co freeholders (though in this case I have been lucky and my co freeholders have been helpful).
At some point in August or September my buyer decided to take out a mortgage, so he was no longer a cash buyer – but he didn’t immediately tell me. He had a mortgage valuation done in September, and in October (at short notice) produced a mortgage offer where apparently exchange had to occur on or before 28th October. He asked his mortgage broker if he could have an extension to this date but his mortgage broker apparently said this would not be possible.
With a buyer lined up I needed to find a house. I started to view houses in early August. I was worried what my buyer and my estate agent would say if I took a long time to find a house – but I wasn’t going to buy a house to please them. By good luck and some hard work on my part I found a suitable house (a house I really liked, and if the purchase goes through the house I’ll very likely live in for the rest of my life) quite quickly and had an offer accepted on it on 24th September 2015.
I decided to arrange the survey on the house before seeing the Contract Pack and making additional enquiries. I wanted to move things on even though the money spent on the survey would be wasted if the transaction fell through. (The survey was done on 14th Oct 2015.) This turned out to be a good idea since within a day or two of the survey being done my buyer produced his mortgage offer. Without the survey I would not have agreed to aim to exchange on 28th October. However with the survey done I decided to agree.
I don’t think my buyer seriously expected everyone to be ready to exchange on 28th October. I think he imposed a date simply in an effort to speed things up. One cause of further delays was that my co freeholders’ solicitor took a while to prepare the documents that they needed to sign. Another cause of delay was that my solicitor was sometimes very slow in passing documents on to me. Contracts were finally exchanged on 26th November 2015.
I consider myself fortunate (on the whole). The legal processes somehow muddled through to their end. None of the parties pulled out. I received a large sum of money for my flat and was able to buy a very nice house and add a large sum of money to my savings.
If there was one thing I could change about this sale/purchase process it would be to get a solicitor who could be relied on to reply clearly to emails within two or three business days of receiving them. Unfortunately my solicitor was very hit and miss in replying to emails, which caused me considerable distress at times.