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Preparing a country house for sale

Insight

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Welcome to The Brief. This month, we look at the sale of a country house and how we prepare for a successful and efficient sale.

The Brief

We were recently instructed on the sale of a £10m family home in the Oxfordshire countryside. With their children grown up, our clients decided to downsize and were about to put their house on the market. The property included a main house, substantial guest cottage, garaging and further outbuildings. The title was complicated and the main house was listed. Significant works were carried out by our clients when they purchased the property 15 years ago, with a further substantial refurbishment programme completed six years ago.

Executing the Brief

We are always delighted when clients who are selling instruct us at an early stage. As a seller, it is prudent to ensure you are prepared with all the paperwork collated as far as possible before a buyer is found. This is particularly the case in the current, slightly uncertain, market where deals can be more fragile. The early instruction also meant that we were also able to make some minor amendments to the agent’s brochure before it went live, ensuring accuracy of information.

Consents for the works

We started by gathering copies of the listed building consents, planning permissions and building regulations completion certificates for the works, together with copies of approvals issued pursuant to conditions attached to the listed building consents and planning permissions. Our initial review of the local authority’s website revealed a number of gaps in the public records. The clients connected us with their construction team, and we worked with the clients' project managers to locate the missing documents relating to their various works.

Property information forms

The Law Society property information forms contain the standard enquiries which form a key part of the sales pack. The new forms (launched in March) are quite extensive and we spent some time going through the forms with our clients to help them complete all of the replies. This was a useful exercise to help us prepare for the legal aspects of the sale and anticipate the enquiries a buyer might raise.

Site visit

Given the complexities with the title (which we have not discussed here) and the works (detailed above), we also conducted a site visit. This formed a final check to ensure our sales pack was complete. It also helped us to provide informed replies to the buyer’s solicitor’s questions in due course.

The debrief

After a difficult negotiation with a prospective buyer, our seller agreed a great price. The buyer was also willing to work with our clients’ desired delayed completion date. With such an excellent deal agreed, it was vital that the legal work could progress swiftly and smoothly. Our detailed and complete sales pack meant we were able to deal with the buyer’s enquiries quickly, and satisfy their concerns without difficulty. Exchange of contracts was secured within two weeks of the deal being agreed. Our clients were very happy, as were we!

Please refer to our Country House brochure and our article examining best practice for marketing a property for sale. 

This publication is a general summary of the law. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

© Farrer & Co LLP, May 2024

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About the authors

Annabel Dean lawyer photo

Annabel Dean

Partner

Annabel advises on all aspects of the acquisition and management of real estate, particularly residential property. Her clients include individuals, trustees and landed estates. Annabel also has a great deal of experience acting for lenders taking security over property.

Annabel advises on all aspects of the acquisition and management of real estate, particularly residential property. Her clients include individuals, trustees and landed estates. Annabel also has a great deal of experience acting for lenders taking security over property.

Email Annabel +44 (0)20 3375 7206
Laurie Horwood lawyer photo

Laurie Horwood

Partner - Board Member

Laurie acts for individuals, institutions, private banks and others on property transactions with a particular focus on high value residential properties. His wide ranging market knowledge ensures he is able to work to achieve a successful transaction. He has acted for many of his clients for many years as their property interests have become more valuable and complex. He has an excellent understanding of the value and importance of relationships within the private wealth world and a desire to work collaboratively with all those involved in a transaction.

Laurie acts for individuals, institutions, private banks and others on property transactions with a particular focus on high value residential properties. His wide ranging market knowledge ensures he is able to work to achieve a successful transaction. He has acted for many of his clients for many years as their property interests have become more valuable and complex. He has an excellent understanding of the value and importance of relationships within the private wealth world and a desire to work collaboratively with all those involved in a transaction.

Email Laurie +44 (0)20 3375 7193
Laura Conduit lawyer photo

Laura Conduit

Partner

Laura is a specialist residential property solicitor, dealing with sale, purchase and mortgage transactions. Laura deals with all types of residential property, whether freehold or leasehold, town or country but she has a great deal of experience in the prime central London market. Laura particularly enjoys a fast paced deal and has an excellent track record for delivering quality advice and exchanging transactions under pressure.

Laura is a specialist residential property solicitor, dealing with sale, purchase and mortgage transactions. Laura deals with all types of residential property, whether freehold or leasehold, town or country but she has a great deal of experience in the prime central London market. Laura particularly enjoys a fast paced deal and has an excellent track record for delivering quality advice and exchanging transactions under pressure.

Email Laura +44 (0)20 3375 7161
Edmund Featherston-Dilke lawyer photo

Edmund Fetherston-Dilke

Partner

Edmund's practice has grown over many years to include agricultural estates work, residential and commercial property. This breadth of experience benefits clients, many of whom have a wide variety of property interests. His clients vary from institutional land owners, charities, property companies, individuals and farmers. Edmund was appointed the Solicitor to the Duchy of Cornwall in June 2020.

Edmund's practice has grown over many years to include agricultural estates work, residential and commercial property. This breadth of experience benefits clients, many of whom have a wide variety of property interests. His clients vary from institutional land owners, charities, property companies, individuals and farmers. Edmund was appointed the Solicitor to the Duchy of Cornwall in June 2020.

Email Edmund +44 (0)20 3375 7280
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