The importance of preparing your property for sale cannot be overstated. While traditional kerb appeal, i.e. the aesthetical first impression buyers will have of your home, is spoken about everywhere, improving the legal kerb appeal of a property is less frequently addressed.
Does this mean it’s less important? Certainly not. In fact, it could be argued that your property’s legal kerb appeal is more important now than ever before. With this in mind, we thought it high time we gave our perspective on this vital part of the sales process.
Let’s kick things off with an overview of what legal kerb appeal actually means.
What is legal kerb appeal?
Essentially, legal kerb appeal is simply having everything in order from a legal perspective prior to going to market. A seller who has made the effort to get their property’s legal issues sorted early is likely to attract a greater number of motivated buyers and close their sale faster than the competition.
Legal kerb appeal is also about highlighting the property’s strengths and bringing any weaknesses to the attention of the seller before they are uncovered by a buyer’s conveyancing solicitor further down the road. This gives the seller options in terms of resolving the issues prior to sale, thus making the property more appealing when marketed.
Why does it matter?
The definition above gives you an idea of why legal kerb appeal is important, but let’s dig a little deeper on each point.
Legal kerb appeal allows you to market the property correctly
Getting the legalities in order gives you and your agent a complete picture of all the good things your property has going for it. Knowing these strengths will allow you to market your home correctly and highlight positive aspects associated with the property from a legal point of view.
Buyers are more informed than ever
Thanks to the Internet (and incredibly informative property blogs like ours!), buyers have never been better informed. A shrewd buyer will be able to spot potential problems such as a flying freehold straight away or may inquire about planning permission while viewing.
Having readily available answers to these questions, as well as solutions where necessary, will put you way ahead of the competition and could be the difference between receiving an offer or not.
Improving legal kerb appeal early buys time
Getting everything in order early means you’ll be able to resolve any issues that may arise before a buyer’s conveyancing begins. This means you, and your buyer, can expect a smoother transaction once the wheels are in motion, which brings us nicely to point four...
Smooth sales are vital during the pandemic
Since COVID-19 took hold in the UK and the subsequent lockdown ensued, inevitable backlogs have been causing delays across the property market. Knowing that your property is in good shape legally will speed up the process and lessen the chances of your sale falling through during the conveyancing stage.
Great legal kerb appeal shows you mean business
Finally, being proactive and taking steps to ensure everything is as it should be with your property before going to market sends a strong signal to all concerned, including your agent and any prospective buyers who may be interested in your home.
As mentioned in the points above, it’ll also give you a fine opportunity to highlight all that is good about the property and resolve any issues before they’re unearthed by a buyer’s solicitor instead.
Steps you should take to improve legal kerb appeal
So, now you know why improving legal kerb appeal is important, let’s move onto the how...
Probably the most important point of all is to instruct a conveyancing solicitor as early as you possibly can. This will allow them time to conduct all of the required assessments and gather the documentation necessary to put your property in good shape, from a legal standpoint, before you go to market.
While it may feel as though you’re jumping the gun somewhat by doing so, it really does make sense to get the ball rolling as quickly as possible. This is especially true in the modern market where solicitors are pushing for business with offers of ‘no move, no fee’ conveyancing.
A word of caution: Those who keep records and have incredible memories may think they can get away with skipping this step, relying instead on what they were told when they themselves bought the property, but that would be foolhardy. Although the law sometimes doesn’t seem to move quickly enough, it is constantly evolving, so it’s still wise to let the experts do their thing and ensure your property’s legal kerb appeal is up to scratch before you sell.
Complete all property information forms fully and honestly
Your conveyancer will ask you to fill out a TA6 property information form (AKA a SPIF, which stands for Seller’s Property Information Form) when you instruct them. This will form the basis of the information presented to the buyer to enable them to make an informed decision when purchasing your home.
It should go without saying that this legal document should be completed accurately and honestly, but we’ll highlight the importance of doing so just in case. Failing to be truthful here could land you in legal hot water later on and the buyer will be entitled to pull out of the purchase or even file a claim against you.
If you are unsure of anything in this document, seek advice and do not rely on guesswork. Honesty really is the best policy here.
Pinpoint the property’s strengths (and weaknesses)
Although the TA6 form does a fine job of covering all of the common aspects associated with the conveyancing process, it’s obviously still a generic document designed to cater for the broadest audience. With this in mind, if you feel there’s something missing you should inform your solicitor at the earliest opportunity. Remember, your legal kerb appeal relies upon uncovering both the strengths and weaknesses of your property.
Strengths can be included in the marketing material your agent puts together. The weaknesses, on the other hand, can be resolved before your house goes on the market, thus removing any potential obstacles before they get in the way of your sale.
Resolve any issues ASAP
An obvious follow on from the point above, but one that’s worth reiterating. If your conveyancing solicitor uncovers anything untoward, make sure you take action and get it resolved straight away.
While it can be disheartening, and even a little bit daunting, there’s very little that can’t be fixed, so don’t become despondent if issues arise. Ask your solicitor for advice on how best to address the problem and proceed accordingly.
Be open to indemnity insurance
Being told that there’s an issue with your property can be unnerving, and they will often be worded in a bamboozling fashion that can heighten stress levels further. However, many of the potential property problems sellers may face can be taken care of with a straightforward indemnity insurance policy.
While this in itself may seem terrifying, it does offer a quick and relatively inexpensive solution to most issues. Be sure to tell your agent and solicitor that you’re happy to cover the cost of the policy and they will then be armed with a solid response to the highlighted problem when the buyer’s solicitor asks the inevitable question.
Leaseholders, push for the management information pack
An important point for leaseholders now: make sure you get hold of the management information pack as soon as you possibly can.
Regardless of whether this needs to be obtained from a freeholder, a housing association, or a separate managing agent, the management information pack is one piece of documentation that can cause extreme delays, so make sure you get yours early.
Collate your documents and replace anything that’s missing
Again, your solicitor will be able to help with this, but you can also involve your agent here, too. Ask in advance what they will need to make the sale happen smoothly and get everything ready to go ahead of time.
Doing so will draw attention to any missing documents and give you time to replace them. It’ll also give you peace of mind to know everything is ready for your solicitor or agent whenever they need them.
The final piece of the property sales puzzle is always communication. Treat everyone involved as part of your team and ensure that they are all kept up to speed every step of the way.
Regardless of whether your sale is plain sailing or riddled with problems, communication is key to getting the result you want, so don’t be shy. Pick up the phone!
If you are thinking of selling in or around London’s E11 postcode, talk to the area’s favourite agent: Petty’s. We’ve been serving the local community for well over 100 years now, and our love of property is only surpassed by our love of people. Let us help you make your next move. Give us a call today.