Selling a flat will often always take longer than a traditional house sale, due to it being a leasehold property. Even if you have everything ready and are proactive with pushing the sale of the flat through, selling a leasehold property in the UK in today’s climate can be challenging due to new legislation in regards to ground rent over £250 which can cause issues with many mortgage lenders.
A traditional house sale can take between 8-12 weeks to go through, whilst 8 weeks would be incredibly ambitious for selling a flat in the UK. The reality is that how long to sell a flat in the UK can range anywhere between 3-6 months, or even longer if there is difficulties with the lease between the two parties. Entering into a leasehold purchase and sale will always take much longer than you originally set out to think. Some solicitors will not even take leasehold sales and purchases due to the extra amount of time and work that is involved in them. Let’s take a look at what is involved in selling a flat in the UK and why it does take longer than selling a house.
Fill In Initial Paperwork
Once your property has been listed and an offer accepted it’s time to get the initial paperwork filled in for your solicitors. I can’t stress enough that filling this in straight away is best practice if you want to sell your flat quickly as it will avoid adding any unnecessary delays. Send absolutely everything you can that relates to the property including any recent electric, plumbing work, energy performance certificates and anything else that is requested in the initial paperwork. If you don’t provide it now, it will be asked weeks down the line.
LPE1 Form & Management Pack
You cannot sell a leasehold property without an LPE1 form and management pack. This is a legally binding document that is provided by the freeholder/managing agent. This can take a few weeks to be carried out, so to further speed up the selling process try and pre-empt the sale of your flat and get the ball rolling with this beforehand so you’re ready to go when the flat sale is going through. This really will give you an advantage as when the LPE1 form gets across to the purchasers solicitors, this will always create further enquiries.
The LPE1 form sometimes has to be completed by both the freeholder and managing agent if they appoint someone to collect service charges and manage the property too. This unfortunately does come at a cost, it can range anywhere between £200-£1,000. There is no shortcut around this and it must be completed by the freeholder/managing agent due to it being a legally binding document.
Lease Queries & Ground Rent
Selling a flat should be a nice, simple process if all of the relevant information is provided upfront and in a quick manner. As a flat has a lease, this is what generally causes the biggest delay as any different solicitor could identify different things in the lease that need to be changed or queried. Since 2018, the biggest issue has been one surrounding ground rent which exceeds £250 outside of London. However, even if your ground rent is not currently at this level, but it is in years to come, this is still cropping up as an issue with mortgage lenders. Now, this is the part that can add weeks or even months onto the sale of a flat in the UK. There are ways around this which can include indemnity policy insurance, a deed variation or a lease extension. The latter of the two are the ones more favourable by solicitors and lenders, but they can take weeks and some thousands of pounds to do. Cash buyers are more favourable in this instance as this element might not bother them in the future, even though it would affect saleability.
As well as this, other lease queries can sometimes take weeks to satisfy the purchasers solicitors. Just ensure that prior to selling that the freeholder/managing agent has carried out everything that needs doing which includes a fire risk assessment and asbestos survey (if an old property). It definitely depends how thorough solicitors are too, but as purchasers are guided by solicitors, for the most part they will wait and go along with the solicitors queries.
Everything Must Be Settled
In order for a sale to be completed, all service charges and ground rent accounts must be settled. Even if there are charges you have queried, they need to be paid before contracts can be exchanged. Solicitors usually have to carry out something called ‘Undertaking’ which is usually done for leasehold properties. This is a legal contract between both parties that states, and confirms that all outstanding debts will be paid on completion of the sale. This ensures a clean slate for the new purchaser.
Outstanding fees usually have to be apportioned up to the completion date, your solicitor will need up to date statements from your freeholder or managing agent to proceed with this. If you have overpaid, for example ground rent 6 months up front, you just need to provide the payment receipt for this. Freeholder and managing agents aren’t the most forthcoming with information, so you’re best asking for this information in advance.
How Long To Sell A Flat UK?
There really is no set amount of time that it takes to sell a flat in the UK as there are many extraneous variables from solicitors, how much of a chain there is and lease issues that arise as mentioned above. However, the average selling time in the UK seems to be around 3-6 months for a flat sale to go through. If you are looking to sell your flat as quickly as possible ensure any potential lease issues are dealt with months in advance to avoid severe delays during the sale.