A reader who has privately listed her property for sale would like to know the process to be followed should someone express an interest in purchasing it.
There are several aspects to consider at this stage and this is why most sellers make use of an estate agent. This helps to ensure that the negotiation is handled professionally and that it is successfully concluded.
However, it is not too tricky a process for a motivated seller to navigate if approached cautiously and with the proper attention to detail.
The reader should begin by arranging a viewing of her property with the potential purchaser at a mutually convenient time.
Ideally, the time chosen for the viewing should flatter the property so that it can be viewed in the best light.
See the reader’s question here.
There are aspects such as latent and patent defects to consider and the reader should understand those principles for the viewing process.
Where she has knowledge of defects and repairs to the property, she should disclose those to the potential purchaser.
This duty to disclose is balanced by the purchaser’s duty to inspect the property satisfactorily.
The reader should, therefore, encourage the potential purchaser to satisfy himself as to the condition of the property rather than being alarmed by the purchaser checking all areas.
If the viewer is interested enough to proceed with preliminary or formal negotiations, the reader should have a prepared list of points which might help to guide the discussion.
Alternatively, she could use a draft agreement of sale (offer to purchase) as an aid to guide the negotiation.
The reader should ensure that the potential purchaser is aware of what he or she is intending to purchase.
The property itself should be identified, together with the extent of its boundaries.
The reader should inquire who the actual purchaser of the property will be and of considerable importance is the negotiation on the purchase price.
She should have a clear idea as to the lowest purchase price she will accept to prevent her from being placed in a position where she has to make a decision under pressure.
The date of occupation by the purchaser is another aspect that can cause a potential issue if not clearly defined.
Often, occupation is given on or as close to the date of transfer as possible.
Either party may have differing requirements in this regard.
For example, the seller may wish to stay on beyond the date of transfer. Alternatively, the purchaser may want to acquire occupation prior to transfer.
If either party has occupation of the property without ownership, it is prudent to record an occupational rental to be paid in such an instance.
The occupational rental payable could be an arbitrary amount agreed upon by the parties or they may use a percentage of the purchase price as an indicator of a reasonable rental payable.
Of great importance to the reader is for her to establish whether the sale is subject to any conditions.
The potential purchaser may, for example, only be in a financial position to purchase our reader’s property if he first sells his property.
While the sale of a potential purchaser’s property is a fairly common condition, it is important to specify certain aspects related to that sale or, for that matter, the fulfilment of any suspensive condition.
This should be subject to a final date, failing which the agreement of sale should lapse, unless the parties agree to extend the period.
If the suspensive condition is unusual to the reader, she could take legal advice on its wording to ensure there are no problems later on.
The reader, as the seller, typically appoints the conveyancing attorney to see to the transfer and it would be prudent for her to identify this party prior to entering into negotiations with a potential purchaser.
In this way the name of the conveyancing attorney can be easily included in any agreement drawn up.
If she approached an attorney on the understanding that he would be appointed, it is quite possible he will assist her with some of the technicalities involved in the negotiation or the preparation of the agreement of sale.
The reader should ensure she has a copy of the title deed available for inspection by the purchaser to satisfy him as to any conditions, such as the use of the property or any servitudes applicable.
Similarly, copies of approved building plans may also be required by a potential purchaser, so having them available may allow for an expedited negotiation and a speedy sale.
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