Do your paperwork
Look out for your FENSA certificate for any replaced windows since 2002 as well as building control certificates, those for subsidence work, damp courses, drain surveys and party wall agreements where relevant.
For rural homes, check the land is properly registered, warns Charlie Wells of Prime Purchase. “One £10m deal fell through because a tiny corner of a field wasn’t registered. Anything which reduces times between the deal being agreed and exchange of contracts is money well spent.”
Instruct a solicitor and ensure all the background checks are completed. “Vendors should consider getting the searches done too,” says Clynton Nel of Johns & Co. “Usually it’s done by the buyer but in the interest of time the vendor can do it.” These have caused lengthy delays in the past; once issued, they are valid three months, adds Marc Schneiderman of Arlington Residential.
If your flat is in a block, request a management pack from the managing agents with all the details about the health of the sinking fund. In the post-Grenfell world, owners of properties within modern, high rise blocks need to have fire regulation certificates at the ready; without them, mortgage valuations can come back as zero, warns Chatwin.
Register for agricultural status
For country houses with more than five acres, it might be worth investigating if you can register as a farmer with the Rural Payments Agency. Houses with this status are charged a flat rate of 4 per cent stamp duty at the point of sale.
May is a great time to get ahead with photography with the gardens in bloom, says Wells. At the same time, have the photographer produce a virtual tour, or do your own on a smartphone. According to the Government guidelines, these should be done first before any physical viewing takes place.
Be sure to make any environmental strengths such as renewable heating sources abundantly clear to buyers. Consider installing an EV charger in the driveway if possible.
Write an area guide
Chances are high that buyers won’t have time to interrogate the neighbours or soak up local atmosphere in the pub if they’re buying during lockdown – so you have to capture it for them. Look at Instagram posts that hashtag your local area for inspiration and put it together in a pack. “We’ve seen some lovely examples even as detailed as to offer tips on which neighbours to go to for what,” says buying agent Jo Eccles of SP Property.