*PLEASE NOTE THIS IS BASED ON UK LAW*
The information below is based on Google searching and our own experience. Please see Selling a Property (Leasehold) the UK which covers the following areas:
- Introduction/Our Story
- Selling a Leasehold Property
- Selling a Probate Property
- Estate Agent
- Conveyancing Solicitor
- Information for once a Property is sold
- Things to consider when selling a Property
- Our final thoughts/advice
1. Introduction/Our Story:
We are now in the process of selling our late Fathers property (Leasehold) Through the Probate Process. This by no way was an easy decision. However, we were faced with having to make the best of a bad situation, trying to ascertain some “little” bit of control. Due to an unresolved request with our Late Fathers local council, we decided to put the property on the market rather than to risk losing it completely.
This was our childhood home before our parents got divorced. We had many memories there. And although our parents divorced, our Dad was very much a part of our family.
Over the years since the divorce, our Dad would have barbecues for his birthday (27th June). He would host parties where all our family and friends would be present. Those were many great moments and memories. Precious and priceless.
Once we decided on an Estate Agent, we signed up with one in October 2018, however, the property didn’t go live on the market until January 2019. One of the main reasons being clearing the property. The other reason was deciding when would be the best time to go live in accordance with the property market at that time.
Accepting that we had to sell was so difficult. The emotions are hard to even explain. Then the next task to be faced was the clear up.
How and where do you start?. This is a time where we would suggest doing things in your own time. People may offer advice/suggestions and they may have lost a parent or not. Either way, this is your experience and so if you do not do things in the way you have been advised, you should not beat yourself up about it. We have come to learn that in this process you have to do what is best for you. However, at the same time, welcome and appreciate the advice that is given to you, as your best interests are at heart when it is being given.
My sister and I have found the task of clearing our late fathers home, mentally and physically challenging. Mentally and physically draining and exhausting. At times I have felt sick to my stomach with the realisation of what I’m doing and what it means. For example, something I wasn’t prepared for was when I had to clear my Dads wardrobe. Especially when I was faced with:
- Seeing all the clothes
- Remembering the times he had worn them
- Picturing the smile he would make when I complimented on a jacket he was wearing
- Some clothes still even smelt of the washing powder
This by far was one of the hardest things I had to do since clearing the house. It really took its toll on me. I literally felt sick to my stomach.
In our situation what we find sad and disappointing is that as we are consistently working towards deadlines, we’ve never really had a chance to take in moments. For example, as this was our childhood home, we would often find things that were from the time we were living there. It would throw us into instant nostalgia of those time and moments. It would be bittersweet, but we were in a moment. Then almost right away we would have to snap ourselves out of it and get back into reality and focus on the bigger picture of the task we were faced with.
Another time that I remember feeling sick to my stomach is when we were deciding on accepting an offer on the property. Of all the big decisions my sister and I have had to make over these past two years, this was by far one of the very biggest.
Again, all the worry, anxiety come flooding back. Is this the right and best decision, as once we agree it is final. Although we as a family know the best thing in this situation is to sell the property, we are also very sad about when the sale completes. This is the final physical lasting connection we have to our Dad.
We have been on many journeys throughout this probate process. Preparing the house to sell has been one of the more emotionally challenging journeys by far.
The completion date has changed twice since we agreed on an offer on the property. This in itself brings many highs and lows. The main reason being preparing ourselves for the fact the house will no longer be ours, and then there are further delays, due too:
- Buyers queries (which is mentioned in this topic)
- The council not responding to queries in a timely sufficient matter
- Lack of efficient communication between all legal parties involved
- Lack of efficient communcation between us and our Conveyancing Solicitor and Estate Agent
This is why our advice will always be Communication is key. Even if you might feel as though you are constantly on companies cases, this is what needs to be done in order to try your best to be aware and on top of what is going on in the background., i.e. the parts that you are not able to be a part of or contribute to in order to push things forward. It is also very important to keep on track of all correspondence getting most things in writing where possible so that you have a paper trail.
Due to the points listed above, completion has not happend as yet. This causes:
It also leaves us wondering :
- When is this going to happen?
- Will it still happen?
- Will we need to reconsider other options?
In clearing the property, I’ve come to a realisation, we are erasing our Dad’s presence or even existence from the house. So surreal. And what is even more emotional or almost nostalgic is seeing the things our Dad kept from our childhood for example books for our learning and things like that. Recognising these things brings back instany memories as it transported me to the times when I used these things. It’s a very bittersweet situation.
A new completion date is again in place, should this go ahead it would mean our childhood home and lasting memory of our Dad will soon no longer be a part of our existence.
Words cannot explain how this feels. Especially as I have become so drawn and attached to the Garden and knowing the house is still there. Once it is gone, it will be deeply sad times for us all, and I think we (my Mum, Sister and I) will all struggle with being in the area for a while after the time.
On top of all of this, there are the legal requirements involved in selling a property, and at that an inherited property through Probate. Once again we were in a world of the unknown not having a clue what was going on around us. We asked the Estated Agent for as much information as possible at the outset as we’ve never sold a house before, unfortunately for us, this did not always happen. Quite often, through research, we would have to find things out for ourselves. It was and still is a huge learning curve.
2 . Selling a Leasehold Property
“Leasehold means that you own the property, but the land upon which the property is built is owned by the freeholder. This gives you the right to occupy the property for as long as the lease is valid. Freehold, on the other hand, means that you own the property and the land upon which the property stands”. 25 May 2015.
“So if you have a 70-year lease today, even if you pay your mortgage off and eventually own your property outright, in February 2087, the freeholder will suddenly be able to take ownership of your flat. Generally buying and selling freehold property is less stressful than doing so with a leasehold property.20 Aug 2018″.
“In an ideal world a freehold sale could complete within six weeks; a leasehold sale takes longer – a minimum of eight to 10 weeks. The current property market is far from ideal, however, for the speedy purchase”.
“Certainly, any lease of less than 70 years can start to significantly affect the value of the house when compared to a like property with a longer lease. If you have too short a lease, the property can decline in value even if property prices in your area are generally rising.29 Dec 2016″.
Read on for a guide to selling your home.
- “Get your finances in order. The first step to selling your property is getting your finances in order”.
- “Start selling before you buy”.
- “Get several valuations”.
- “Find a trusted agent”.
- “Prepare your home”.
- “Choose a solicitor”.
- “Accept an offer”.
- “Negotiate the draft contract”.
- “Energy Performance Certificate. It is a legal requirement to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) when you sell, rent or build a home”.
- “ID and Proof of Address”.
- “Property Title Deeds”.
- “Fittings and Contents Form”.
- “Property Information Form”.
- “Additional Paperwork Required for Leasehold Properties”.
The links below give information on things that need to be obtained before putting a property on the Market (Leasehold Property) (We were made aware of this after the fact of putting the property on the market. Thankfully we obtained both things before the property went live on the market):
“Private Residence Relief. You do not pay Capital Gains Tax when you sell (or ‘dispose of‘) your home if all of the following apply: you have one home and you‘ve lived in it as your main home for all the time you‘ve owned it. you did not buy it just to make a gain”.
3. Selling a Probate Property:
“In England and Wales Probate is the word normally used to describe the legal and financial processes involved in dealing with the property, money and possessions (called the assets) of a person who has died”.
- “Find a will. Sorting your will is pretty essential”.
- “Apply for probate. Probate Registries are branches of the court that can help you get legal permission to carry out your role as the executor of a will”.
- “Pay inheritance tax on property”.
“If there is a property in the Estate, Probate will usually be needed before it can be sold. Once you‘ve received an offer on the property, you can exchange contracts if you‘re an Executor in the Will, but the property sale cannot complete until the Grant of Probate has been provided to your Solicitor”.
“On average, Conveyancing usually takes around 8 to 12 weeks, but it can be significantly longer or shorter depending on the circumstances. You can use this time to get the property ready for completion. If there are unwanted items that don’t hold any value, you may want to consider donating these to charity”.
“Probate House Clearance – It is normally okay to remove and sell items from a property before probate is granted if the estate clearly falls beneath the IHT threshold (currently £325,000) but even in this case it is a good idea to keep a record of sale proceeds in case there are any later questions or disputes between beneficiaries or family members or even HMRC. 2 Apr 2016″.
4 Estate Agent:
“You can advertise your property without an estate agent as long as you are prepared to put some time and effort in. Several sites allow you to list your house for free such as Property Sell and House Ladder, meaning you can expose your property to a huge web audience.27 Dec 2018″.
“A sole agency is still only using one agent, but if you find a buyer yourself you don’t have to pay commission to the estate agent. If you appoint more than two estate agents on a ‘multiple agency‘ basis, only the estate agent who sells the property will be entitled to the commission”.
If speaking to your letting agent doesn’t help
- “Step 1: write your letting agent a letter. You can make a written complaint by following your letting agent’s complaints procedure”.
- “Step 2: complain to an independent complaints body”.
- “Step 3: complain to your local council”.
5. Conveyancing Solicitor:
5.1 “Conveyancing is the legal term for transferring ownership of property, whether you are buying or selling. A solicitor or conveyancer will handle contracts”.
5.2 “Conveyancing Process for Selling a Property. Seller’s Conveyancer confirms instructions by letter setting out the terms of business and fixed fee costs. Seller and buyer agree on a completion date and contracts are formally “exchanged” – meaning both parties are legally committed to the transaction”.
5.3 Before signing the contract sent to you we would advise reading the guidelines (These were not provided to us by our solicitor we found this ourselves through research – after having received the draft contract). Details of both the contract and guidelines are below:
Sample of contract can be found here:
- Conveyancing Advice-Sale Purchase-Standard conditions of sale
- Guidelines for the standard 5th edition sale of contract:
“This document records the fact that both the buyer and seller have agreed to the transaction involvement a property. It can also be called a Notification of Sale or Sales Particulars. The sale only becomes legally binding on both parties when Contracts are Exchanged”.
“A retention of funds means when moneys are paid over on completion (or the date of purchase/sale) the final sum will be less the amount being retained by the chosen solicitor. The amount will be agreed by parties as well as the Terms and Conditions for the retention”.
“The amount will be agreed by parties as well as the Terms and Conditions for the retention.”
In What Circumstances Does a Solicitor retain funds?
“When purchasing a Leasehold property with Ground Rent and Service Charges, there are occasions where the solicitor acting for the purchaser will negotiate with the solicitor for the seller to retain funds. For example, the most common scenario is where the Service Charge Accounts for the end of the financial year have not been finalised, and the previous quarterly accounts show a deficit in funds is likely to occur”.
5.6 As a family, finding out there was a retention fee to be held aside in the conveyancing solicitor account almost hit us like a tonne of bricks. We were never made aware this would be the case much less know what this meant.
This again caused us to have to do RESEARCH. We still cannot believe that to this day we are still faced with being ill-advised, or not being given full information. If we ever have any doubt whether a blog of this kind is needed, these events reinstall the feelings of why we had the thought in the first place and remind us that yes, it is a good idea. Share the knowledge, spread the word. Know your rights.
“Why Do Solicitors Take So Long To Exchange Contracts? … Solicitors may order further searches, and they can take around 3 weeks longer. A solicitor is often acting on behalf of you and as well as a lender, so they aren’t able to fully commit to the exchange until these searches have been carried out”, .22 May 2018.
“Solicitors do not like exchanging a Contract and completing on the same day. The idea of exchanging Contracts and writing a completion date in, is so that you can organise van, final reading of meters, etc, etc. If you exchange and complete on the same day there are obvious pitfalls”.
- “What to do after you sell your house”.
- “Keep copies of all paperwork related to the closing and settlement after you sell your house”.
- “Keep proof of improvements and prior purchases”.
- “Stay on top of tax laws after you sell”.
- “Put your proceeds in a money market fund”.
- “Choose your next home carefully”.
- “Don’t feel pressured to buy”.
7. Things to consider when selling a property: (Leasehold)
7.1 Leasehold Advice:
- Leasehold advisory service
- Leasehold advice service
- Freehold and leasehold advice now
- Leasehold property – GOV.UK
- Phil Spencer’s Property Advice. Freehold vs. Leasehold
7.2 Selling a Leasehold Property:
- Selling a leasehold property:
- What certificates do you need when selling a house?
- HomeOwners Alliance: Property Expert Advice & Support
- How Long Does it REALLY Take to Sell a House – The Advisory
- The timeline of buying a home – How long is too long?
- Advice for when selling your leasehold flat or apartment
- Charges when Selling or Buying leasehold property
- Why selling a leasehold home could prove difficult
- The simple guide to selling a leasehold property
- Problems with buying and selling a home – Citizens Advice
- What is a memorandum of sale? – Good Move
7.3 Estate Agency Guide:
- Clever questions to ask the Estate Agent
- The Estate Agent Code of Practice:
- The Estate Agency Guide:
- Estate Agent Fees and Contracts – Which?
- How many Estate Agents should I use?
7.4 Conveyancing Solicitor Process:
- What is a Conveyancer’s Role? Tips and Advice
- Conveyancing Process explained for Sellers – HomeOwners Alliance
- Stages of the conveyancing process
- Conveyancing Process (Selling)
7.5 Retention of funds:
7.6 Buyers queries:
7.7 Guide to selling a Probate Property:
- What Executors need to know when selling the Deceased’s home
- How long does it take to sell a house through probate?
- Tips for selling a property during Probate in the UK – Co-op Probate
- Can you sell a house before probate is granted?
- How to sell a Probate Property
- Selling a Probate Property
- FAQ on The Buying and Selling Of Probate Properties
8. Our final thoughts:
We would advise the following once you have decided to sell your property:
- Research into an Estate Agent (Make sure you are happy with the terms and conditions before signing anything)
- Get an EPC Check carried out
- Request a Pre Assignment pack (If a council leasehold property)
- Research into a Conveyancing Solicitor (If you have a probate solicitor you could find out if they offer this service, however, you are not obligated to do so)
- Check all documents that are sent to you to ensure you are happy that all details are correct. This includes: Offer pack, Memorandum of Sale, draft contract
- Try your best to get written confirmation of correspondence, transactions. These are legal matters and it is important you ensure your back is covered. No one will look out for you in the process except for you.
- Do not feel pressurised by the parties involved, Estate agent, the Conveyancing solicitor
- Keep a record of all correspondence between parties
- Try to stay on top of what is happening so that you can follow up if needs be
- Keep your wits about you. This can be a lengthy and draining process. (You may even feel at times as though you are dealing with children in the School playground rather than professionals)
- Speak up if you are ever unhappy with anything.
The way we see it, these are services you are paying for and so you have every right to question things and stand your ground.