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Tips on selling property for separating couples

Separating couples are being offered advice to help them sell a jointly owned property.

Sarah Barnes, head of Residential Property at regional law firm Napthens, said selling a property under usual circumstances can be stressful for any seller, but when selling under difficult emotional circumstances the process can be even tougher.

A firm of solicitors is usually instructed by both of the sellers to act in relation to the sale, and Sarah said there is plenty that can be done, in conjunction with both parties, to help smooth the process.

Sarah offered some top tips: “Initially we speak to each seller and check they are in agreement as to the sale price, the transaction as a whole, the timescale and how the matter will be progressed.

“We then discuss with the sellers their future plans in relation to where they will be living after the sale – often the sellers will have different plans so it’s important to ensure they are achievable.

“Sometimes the property being sold is subject to a court order which must be complied with, and often the sellers may not wish to communicate with each other. In this case, the lawyer may be asked to communicate with each seller separately which is workable as long as both sellers have agreed to time frames early on.

“If the sellers cannot agree on the mechanics of the sale or disagree in relation to key elements of the transaction, such as the sale price or time frames, or are not contactable, it is possible that the sellers will need to instruct separate lawyers.”

Sarah added that there is plenty for both parties to do at the start of the sale process to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible.

She said: “If the sellers are in the process of separating or divorcing, they should speak to their lawyer at the outset about this and to be as open as possible about the circumstances.

“This way, the lawyer can decide whether it is appropriate for both sellers to instruct the same lawyer, or whether separate representation may be required. An evaluation of this will save time in the long term.”

Residential conveyancing Preston Sarah Barnes