I’ve recently posted about the things to look for when you’re buying a flat, but if you’re in the process of purchasing one it’s actually really important to know what the process of selling a flat is too.
It might feel a bit backwards, but leasehold sales take a bit longer than houses due to the lease and the information that needs to be provided for this. In a way, there’s an additional middle man in the chain – this is whoever is the landlord or managing agent of the property.
What Is The Process In Selling A Flat In The UK?
It’s not quite as simple as a regular house sale (freehold), but with all your ducks in a row, it can be made that little bit more stress free.
Getting Your Property Ready To Be Listed
It really does make a difference when you’re selling your flat if it looks presentable and tidy. This is difficult if you lack space and you’re living there. People are aware of this and will look past it, but having it look show home ready will help to increase those viewings, and leave a lasting impression.
Before it is listed make sure any cracks, damp, peeling paint and anything on the surface level is attended to. These minor cosmetic changes make a huge difference, I know I always look for tell tale signs of damp or issues when I view a house.
With that aside, try to put some stuff into storage to make the space look more minimal, and make sure it’s extremely clean! A bad smell and cleanliness really puts me off a house, first impressions absolutely DO count when you are selling a flat.
Find An Estate Agent
Next, you’re going to need to appoint an estate agent in the sale of your flat. It’s really important to find one that will do your flat justice, it’s not necessarily about finding the cheapest agent on the market as it is usually reflective in the service they provide. Yopa and Purple Bricks are two of the cheapest I know of on the market who have a flat fee, they’re mostly an online estate agent though and whilst they are cheaper than most, they feel more efficient than traditional agents.
It’s a good idea to get a few estate agents out to give your property a valuation. This helps to concrete a sale price and it gives you an idea of each estate agents approach and generally what they’re like. I met with 4 different estate agents and you wouldn’t believe how different each one was. From drone footage, to block bookings to create competition, they are all quite different in their own way.
Once you have appointed an estate agent, they’ll book in with you to get it listed. This usually involves them getting photographs for the listing and getting all the information they need from you to really push your property on the listing.
The most important part of the process is getting those viewings, and getting a sale! Try to be as flexible as possible with the viewings so it doesn’t put purchasers off. Delaying a viewing could be the difference between a sale and them putting an offer in on another property. The property market is still crazy, so prepare to strap yourself in for the ride.
When it gets to the stage of people putting in offers, I strongly recommend waiting for counter offers before you accept. Unless you’re in a rush, hold on as you might end up getting more than you first thought. I can’t speak for every property, but the property prices have risen astronomically in the last 6 months alone, so it really is a great time to sell – but as you can imagine, it’s an even harder time to buy!
Appoint A Solicitor
You’re going to need a solicitor lined up to complete the memorandum of sale. This goes to the purchasers solicitors which includes information on the property and your solicitors information, so you do need this to hand.
Again, get a couple of quotes for selling the flat, they will often be much cheaper this way than going with the solicitors that the estate agents recommend. Oh, and they will recommend. Some of the cheaper agents also specify that you MUST use their solicitors if you want to sell with them. Don’t let anyone bully you into using their recommended solicitors through, I really do think it’s best to stay with local residential conveyancing solicitors, and ones that you trust if possible.
Fill In Initial Paperwork
Your solicitor will provide you with an initial set of paperwork that needs to be filled in. This includes protocol forms, fittings form – i.e what is being left behind in the property and what is being taken. As well as some initial information about service charges and ground rent. Fill this in as soon as possible and send it back to your solicitors as this will form the initial contract that is sent to the purchasers solicitors. The longer it takes you to send back, the longer it will delay the process.
LPE1 Form Completion
As flats are generally leasehold properties, additional information is needed for the sale. An LPE1 form is a mandatory form that needs to be completed. This needs to be done by your landlord or managing agent, it requests information relating to the lease, service charges, ground rent and other legal information. This usually carries a cost and can range between £200-£800. Remember to factor this in to your costs when looking to sell your flat. The sale cannot go through without this being done.
Be On Hand To Answer Queries
A leasehold sale brings up a heck more questions than a freehold sale does. The purchasers solicitors will almost always send across queries in response to the contract before approval. Even then, the LPE1 form completion might also create further questions. Just be sure to be as responsive as possible and contact your managing agent if you don’t know the answer. I can’t stress enough that not being responsive can really delay the sale of the flat.
Contract Approval & Exchange
Once all queries have been answered, it’s time for contract approval. Once the purchasers solicitors have approved the contract you will receive it by post to sign and send back. They will also ask you at this stage your desired date of moving. When both parties (or more if you’re in a chain) you will exchange and get ready for a move date.
Of course, it goes without saying that everything needs to be settled in full before you move. Including any outstanding service charges, water bills and electric. On the day you move make sure you take final water and electric meter readings so you can settle in full and have a clean break from the property.
Selling a flat in the UK does bring some additional elements to it than a freehold purchase. It can take slightly longer than a regular house sale which takes on average 8 weeks to go through, so do bear this in mind. However, with everything under control and lined up it can make the process a lot more enjoyable and quicker when both parties are incredibly responsive.