I’ve had an offer accepted – what’s next?

Q. I’ve just had an offer accepted on a property. What should I do next?

A: I recently wrote about securing a property ahead of the 1st April stamp duty deadline. In reality, and whether or not you are trying to meet a tax deadline, as soon as you’ve had an offer accepted, you should go full steam ahead with the purchase process.

This is because being slow, either as a buyer or a seller, can be a really common reason for a purchase or sale to fall through, which is an unnecessary waste of everyone’s time, lost fees, and the emotion that comes with that disappointment. If you’re the buyer, there are several next steps which you should action straight after an offer is agreed.

Firstly, for the purchase to be formally agreed, you may need to show proof of funds for the cash element of your purchase, plus a letter from your mortgage lender or broker confirming that you have a mortgage in principle agreed. You should have these ready to go as it’s quite a common request from an estate agent and, if you’re not able to produce these quickly, you can lose credibility fast.

You will also need to give the estate agent your solicitor details so that they can produce the sales memorandum, which is a letter confirming the agreed transaction. So, be sure to instruct a good solicitor immediately if you haven’t already. This is a really simple process and there’s no excuse for being slow on this. All you need to do is sign the solicitor’s terms, produce certified copies of your ID and proof of address – or stop by their office and show originals.

At this stage, the sales memorandum can be issued and the purchase process can start. If you can demonstrate that you are really organised at this early stage, it will give you a huge amount of goodwill. This means that, if there are delays later on in the process, you are likely to be given more leeway and the seller will bear with you, rather than them being frustrated with you from the outset, which could see that any delay at your end becomes an excuse for them to drop you as a buyer.

Once the sales memorandum is issued, you need to jump on your solicitor and mortgage lender, or broker, to ensure that they both work as quickly as they possibly can to process the legal paperwork and book in the mortgage valuation survey. This may well involve you acting as project manager and overseeing both parties so don’t be afraid to enlist help from the estate agent too as they should have a good understanding of the buying process. For example, a friend of mine recently had a purchase fall through because this part of the purchase was too slow; the transaction failed to maintain traction and the seller got frustrated and switched to another buyer.

If you have a question you’d like Jo to answer please email info@sourcingproperty.co.uk or tweet her @joeccles.