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Eight ways to take the stress out of selling your home

As the Westcountry housing market continues to consolidate, and the sun starts to shine, more people are deciding to sell up and take their next step on the property ladder.

Selling a house is said to be one of the most stressful events in a person’s life so Cornish Mutual, a local South West insurer, has brought together a host of housing industry experts to help make the process as simple as possible.

Set yourself a realistic time frame

 “We would always suggest to people that they set expectations around how long the process of selling or buying a house can take. It would be wise to factor in around three months for the whole process once an offer has been accepted, including all the documentation and legal procedures that naturally occur when you’re exchanging.” Nick Wood, Wood's Estate Agents and Auctioneers


Get ahead of the game

“Many people wait for their property to be sold and a buyer found before thinking about getting the legalities in check; but get ahead of the game - be smart - instruct a solicitor to undertake the conveyancing as soon as you place your property on the market for sale.    

“This means when the sales process starts, the solicitor will be able to provide the required documentation and this will give enough time for the seller to consider their answers and locate the paperwork to support their replies without delaying the legal procedures.  

“They should also ask their solicitor to inspect the title deeds at an early stage so any issues can be addressed and resolved before a buyer is found. Being prepared will ensure that the sale proceeds quickly and smoothly and will avoid many last minute delays.” Sarah Cowley, Licensed Conveyancer, Coodes Solicitors

Protect your possessions on the move

“We always remind our Members of the insurance implications of household removal, we make sure that adequate cover is in place when contents are being transported from a home for permanent removal to another home. I would recommend that people check this with their insurer if they aren’t sure of whether they are covered, certain exclusions or conditions may apply. For example fragile items are often only covered if packed by professional removal contractors.” Graham Nicholls, Underwriting Manager for Cornish Mutual

Beware of added costs

“Many people are not aware that if the property they are selling is not their main residence then they may be liable to pay capital gains tax on the proceeds.

“They will be able to use their annual capital gains tax exemption if this has not been used already and there are also many tax planning solutions available that could help mitigate or defer this tax liability if the correct advice is given.” Michelle Willcock, Chartered Financial Planner for Francis Clark Financial Planning

Leave emotional expectations at the door

 “We know that home owners have a natural tie to their properties. Some people have been in them for decades and there’s an understandable connection. But when someone decides to put their home on the market it’s important to do some research so that when an agent discusses the valuation of the property, their expectations are met. The agent will have a very good understanding of the housing market and their advice is based on experience.” Nick Wood, Wood's Estate Agents and Auctioneers

Permission to plan

“If you haven’t got planning permission for an existing extension, in most circumstances you can still sell your house. Your solicitor will usually be able to obtain an indemnity insurance policy in respect of a development undertaken without consent. The indemnity insurance will protect your buyer and their mortgage company and their successors in title against enforcement action being taken by the local authority.    

“There are a number of insurers on the market that offer both standard and bespoke indemnity policies that will provide cover at a comparatively inexpensive cost. 

“Obtaining indemnity insurance can be used as an alternative solution to submission of a retrospective planning application and usually saves a considerable amount of time and expense.” Sarah Cowley, Licensed Conveyancer, Coodes Solicitors

Presentation, presentation, presentation

“Presentation is everything. Even before you contact your agent it is worth taking some time to have a walk around your property – maybe even with a friend – to write down anything that you think needs to be fixed, painted or replaced. We all have things in our properties that we tend to live with and put off sorting out so this is the time to do those jobs because viewers will see them a mile off.” Nick Wood, Wood's Estate Agents and Auctioneers

A growing concern?

Your garden is often the last thing on your mind when selling a property, as long as it looks presentable sellers tend to be more focused on making the property look at its best. However, What's lurking in your garden can cause big problems when selling your house, one relevant issue for South West homeowners is Japanese knotweed, an increasing problem in the UK. It’s an issue that many sellers aren’t aware of but allowing any of it to escape from your land could attract third party litigation action and/or civil proceedings against you. It can be a serious issues if you allow knotweed to spread onto an adjacent property, an order could be served under nuisance legislation.  Not taking appropriate measures to dispose of Japanese knotweed could easily result in spreading knotweed and therefore breaking the law.   

“If you believe that Japanese knotweed is growing upon your land, please ensure that you obtain specialist advice.”

Sarah Cowley, Licensed Conveyancer, Coodes Solicitors 

Don’t leave anything to chance

“It’s easy to get swept up in the anticipation of a sale completing but it’s important that you don’t jump the gun when it comes to your insurance cover. As a seller, we would always advise that you shouldn’t cancel your insurance on the property until completion of the sale, otherwise there is always the risk that the property ends up not insured at all by anyone with a financial interest if the other party, i.e. the purchaser, has failed to arrange cover from exchange of contracts. Make sure you’ve got the correct cover in place by speaking to your insurer. ” Graham Nicholls, Underwriting Manager for Cornish Mutual