The purchase or sale of land and property by an online conveyancing solicitor is divided into three main stages, which are exchange of contracts, completion and post completion. Once the parties have agreed a price for a property the buyers solicitor will start to make enquiries about ‘title’ and will often arrange a structural survey on the property at the clients request. The buyer’s solicitor arranges for ‘searches’ to be carried out which mainly involves making enquiries with the local authority and considers the registered title which has now almost completely replaced title deeds. Contracts are subsequently exchanged, usually with a 10% deposit and after further inquiries the transaction is completed by payment of the balance of the purchase money at a time and date outlined in the contract for ‘completion. At that stage the transaction is finalised and the new owner can then assume the rights of ownership and move in.
A solicitor offering conveyancing services who is acting for the seller of land or property has a considerably easier task than the solicitor acting for the buyer of land or property however there are a few places where a seller can trip up and can be liable to pay the buyer damages if he has mislead the buyer in any respect and that deception has induced the buyer to part with his money.
The first area of concern for a seller relates to the sales particulars that are usually prepared by an estate agent which must be accurate and reliable. It is essential that the seller personally checks the particulars of sale and ensures that they are totally accurate and not misleading in any respect. If a prospective buyer is mislead by accidental or deliberate erroneous statements there may be an opportunity for the buyer to claim damages against the seller if the misleading statement induced the buyer to part with his money. In most cases, if the buyers solicitors conveyancing services are adequate any errors should be picked up prior to exchange of contracts.
Another area where sellers often cause themselves expensive problems relates to pre-contract enquiries which are forms submitted by the buyer, posing questions relating to the property, which the seller has to answer. These questions, which are in the form of a two part property information pack are submitted by the buyer to the seller and if answered fraudulently or negligently can form the basis for the issue of legal proceedings by the buyer against the seller claiming damages. There are two parts to the property information pack dealing with fixtures and fittings and other matters of potential dispute :-
The first set of forms relates to fixtures and fittings and declares which are to be left at the property and which are to be taken when the seller leaves. Clearly if the seller takes fixtures and fittings that he indicated that he would leave then he is liable in damages for the cost of those items to the buyer. Solicitors conveyancing services do not cover completion of this form which is the sole responsibility of the seller.
The second set of forms poses numerous questions such as :-
Are there any guarantees including damp proof guarantees?
Where are the boundaries and who maintains them?
Are there any unusual arrangements that affect the property?
Have there been any disputes relating to the land or property?
This is an area that frequently results in court litigation. Many sellers deny the existence of any disputes with neighbours which may result from noise, unclear boundaries, children’s behaviour, animals and pets or disputed rights of way which don’t go away when the old occupants leave and the new occupants arrive to find themselves embroiled in a long standing dispute about the property or its usage. It is essential that a seller declares any problems of this nature.