Guide to Selling Residential Property


We would advise that formal letters between us, as your solicitors, and the purchaser’s solicitors, creates the missives.  The missives commence with the receipt of the offer from the purchaser.  Once we have discussed the terms of the offer with you we shall issue a qualified acceptance which is a formal letter accepting some of the clauses within the offer whilst deleting others.  We will also incorporate further clauses to protect your own interests.  If the purchaser’s solicitor is satisfied with the terms of our qualified acceptance then they will provide us with a letter confirming this consensus.  This is known as concluding the missives (or the bargain).  Alternatively it may well be that the purchaser’s solicitor is not satisfied with the full terms of our qualified acceptance and will provide us with yet a further formal letter amending our qualified acceptance.

In any case we will inform you as soon as missives have been concluded.  Once missives have been concluded both yourself and the purchaser will have entered into a legally binding contract (otherwise known as the missives). Please note that we will sign the contract letters on your behalf once we have your authority to do so. You will not sign these letters personally.  If you are purchasing as well as selling, then we will always endeavor to conclude the missives for your sale and purchase as simultaneously as possible, although in practice this is not always feasible.

The time taken to conclude the missives varies accordingly to the circumstances of each transaction.  It may very well be that the purchaser is unwilling to conclude a missive with yourself until such times as they have concluded for their own sale transaction or have received their mortgage offer from their lender.  Further it may be that missives cannot be concluded until we hold certain documentation for the property, for example, Local Authority Consents for past alterations.  Therefore if you have had any work done to it, eg. an extension, alteration, timber or damp treatments etc it is important that you provide us with same as soon as possible to prevent any delay in concluding the missives.

Joint Instructions

We require to take instructions from our client in relation to every transaction. In joint transactions we appreciate it is not always practical to take individual instructions from each party and we can accept instructions from one party provided both parties are agreeable. Should you not be agreeable to one party providing joint instructions please let us know immediately so we may make the necessary arrangements to obtain instructions from both parties

Home Report

If the home report is more than three months old, the purchaser will require obtaining a refreshed report in order to satisfy their mortgage lender, although you are not obligated to provide this it is best that you do to prevent any delays in the purchase securing a mortgage.  If the surveyor is not on the purchaser’s mortgage lenders approved panel then the lender will instruct a new valuation survey and therefore access would be required to be granted.

If your home report makes reference to past alterations then the purchaser’s solicitors will be seeking the Planning Permission, Building Warrant, stamped plans and Completion Certificate before they will complete the transaction, this is something that will also be insisting upon by the purchaser’s mortgage lender and therefore if the alterations were carried out by you then please ensure that these are provided as soon as possible.

Your Legal Duties

You will be obligated to provide a valid and marketable title to the property.  If you have a mortgage over the property then it is vital that you provide us with your mortgage account number as soon as possible as the title deeds will be held by your lender.  In the event that the deeds are not available prior to conclusion of the missives then we will require to make the missives conditional upon the purchaser (and their mortgage lender) receiving and being satisfied with the terms thereof.  In the event that the title deeds are not to the purchaser’s reasonable satisfaction then they will be entitled to withdraw from the missives without penalty being due by you or the purchaser.

Further it will be a condition of the concluded missives that you will provide to the purchasers the following reports (which we will obtain on your behalf):

  1. Property Enquiry Report.  This will disclose any planning permission, Building Warrants etc which have been granted either for your property or neighbouring properties.  It shall disclose any Notices (i.e environmental, housing etc) which has been served by the Local Authority or other bodies.  It will confirm the status of the roads and footpaths i.e public or private
  2. Legal Report.  This will disclose all securities (otherwise known as mortgages or secured loans) granted over the property.  It is therefore imperative that you advise us of all securities granted against the property, including the lender’s details and their account numbers to enable us to arrange redemption of same on the date of entry.

The Legal Report will also disclose any Court decrees granted against all titleholders or the purchaser.  Examples of the Court decrees which would prohibit the sale being completed without prior consent of the creditor are Letters of Inhibition, Trust Deeds, Sequestration etc.  Please also inform us immediately of any such Court Decrees to enable us to seek the approval of your creditor to avoid any delays in completing.

Please note that the Legal Report requires being obtained immediately before the sale is completed to ensure that it is accurate and up to date and it is therefore imperative that you provide us with details of all securities and any Court Decrees which may prevent the sale from completing on the contractual date of entry.

  1. Coal Authority Report.  This will disclose any mine entries near the property as well as mine workings, whether past, present or possible future.  Please note that the Coal Authority Report is not required for all properties.

We will endeavour to order the reports at least four weeks prior to the date of entry however please note that this is not always feasible and therefore we will order same as soon as practicable.  In the event that the purchaser is not satisfied with any of these reports they will be entitled to withdraw from the missives and you will not be entitled to seek penalty from them.  It is therefore extremely important that you provide me with any information regarding you or your property which may result in any of the reports being deemed unsatisfactory by the purchasers

Things to do

We would suggest that you contact your Council Tax office and any factor or similar at least three weeks before the date of entry.  Further, contact your gas, electricity and telephone providers to provide them with the necessary meter readings to enable them to provide the final bills.  You may wish to contact the Post Office to have your mail redirected for at least six months.

You will be responsible for defects to appliances intimated by the purchaser within five working days after the date of entry so we would suggest that you consider having any heating system serviced.  This will enable you to provide sufficient evidence in the event of a claim by the purchaser.  – Further please leave all instructions manuals etc for appliances and systems within the property and ensure that the property is left in a neat and tidy condition.

Please also ensure that the property has adequate buildings insurance until 5pm on the date of entry.

Signing of Documentation

You will be required to sign a Disposition (the document which transfers the title to the purchaser) prior to the date of entry.  We cannot complete the sale until you have signed this and it is in our hands.  We would advise that the purchaser’s solicitor prepares this, although we will revise the deed on your behalf, and therefore we cannot advise of a date when this will be available.  Please note that it may only be available the day or so before the date of entry.  It is essential therefore that you are contactable so that the Disposition can be signed.  In the event that you will not be available prior to the date of entry then you must give us sufficient notice so that a possible alternative arrangement can be made.


Please remember that you must be out of the house by 12.30pm and that the keys made available to the purchasers at this time unless specific notice has been given to the purchaser in advance.  If you have used a selling agent give him/her one set of keys before the date of entry along with details of any alarm code. Keep the other sets until you leave the house and simply put them through the letterbox.  If you did not use a selling agent then we would be happy for the keys to be delivered to our office (provided this is within reasonable distance from the property).

Redemption Statement

We will obtain a redemption statement from your mortgage lender at the outset and an updated statement before settlement.  If you consider the statement to be incorrect then please contact your mortgage lender directly to discuss and advise us if they confirm that amendments require to be made.  This is because we are bound to make payment of the final balance requested by the lender and it is therefore important for you to ensure that this is accurate.

If you believe that the amount of the mortgage may be greater than the proceeds from the sale you must immediately inform us because a special approach is then required to be made to your lender.  In such circumstances an additional fee will be payable.

Funds due to you

It is standard practice for the sale price to be paid by way of cheque and therefore it is important to note at this stage that in terms of Law Society regulations, this firm are required to wait the standard three working days for the sale cheque to clear prior to the funds being made available to you.

Once the sale has completed we will provide you with a final Cash Account as soon as practicable after the date of entry.  This will detail all funds received and disbursed on your behalf (typically being the mortgage, estate agency invoice, factors fee/retention, our fees and outlays).

Any free proceeds of sale must be paid to the titleholder(s) and cannot be paid to a third party.  If the title is in joint names but the free proceeds of sale are to be paid into an account in the sole of name of either of you then please advise as we must seek written authorization from you to this effect.

Capital Gains Tax

If this property is not your main residence then you should contact your Accountant in order to discuss the potential Capital Gains Tax implication brought about from the sale of the property.

Solicitors, Estate Agents, Lenders etc.

It is appreciated that the selling of a home can be a stressful time and all parties are usually keen to progress to completion as soon as possible.  It is worth bearing in mind though that often we are relying upon other parties (i.e solicitors, mortgage lenders, estate agents etc) to act timeously in providing correspondence/documentation etc and therefore whilst it may be frustrating at times, a reasonable amount of time should be afforded to other parties to deal with us.  We will always endeavour to act to progress matters as quickly as we can on your behalf.  It is also important that you ensure you provide to us any requested information/documentation as soon as possible and ensure that the information provided is accurate and up to date.