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A COMMON but avoidable feature of the current residential market is sales which take much longer than necessary, causing immense frustration. How do you avoid such delays?

The cyclical nature of the country house market is such that a few months spent on an abortive deal can put you back a year.

Knowing what the causes of such delays puts you in the driving seat:

* ‘Buyers’ who cannot buy – Cash buyers are often anything but. Many, for example, have yet to check their mortgage limits or indeed have actually secured a mortgage offer. Indeed sometimes a committed local buyer with a complete chain can be the better option. Either way, the capacity for the sale to happen needs to be scrutinised thoroughly. Remedy: As the agent, one needs to agree a timeline with milestones such as survey and draft contacts dates. This will focus minds, build in flexibility and agree when the property will be re-marketed if progress is not being made.

* Risk-averse, reactive conveyancing – we are finding that many vendors and purchasers choose to engage licensed conveyancers who are often inexpensive, inexperienced and nervous and far more risk adverse than a few years ago and do not have the budgets to be terribly pro-active. As a result, minor problems can cause long delays and with listed properties, these can run into months. Remedies: encourage your client to resolve any problems in advance which most commonly relate to title issues, rights of way, planning permissions, building regulation approval and completion certificates. Instructing an experienced and pro-active solicitor with relevant experience can provide huge dividends to the speed of a sale once agreed.

* Long sole agency agreements – when stock levels and price growth are low, sales agents have a temptation to impress you with a big price to win your instruction, whilst knowing full well that house price inflation (non-existents at present) will fail to cover up their over-optimism. To both win your business and get the eventual sale, some will insist on a very long sole agency agreement giving them time to grind you down on the price. Remedies: insist on evidence to support the valuation and avoid signing up to long agency agreements. Agents should stand and fall by their performance and as a firm we are confident in our abilities and do not tie our clients into such agreements.

For buyers and sellers alike, the rewards for preparing well and choosing carefully have never been greater.

Contact Jackson-Stops in Northampton on 01604 632991 or visit www.jackson-stops.co.uk

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