What Certificates Do I Need to Sell My House?

Unsure of what paperwork you need to sell your house?

You’re not alone. It happens to the best of us because in all honesty, selling your house can be a roller coaster. From finding a competent estate agent, scheduling viewings, to sprucing up your property, it can be overwhelming.

Not to mention just how much paperwork is involved.

Let me guess…

You must have already asked ‘what certificates do I need to sell my house?’ And that’s why you’re here. If you’re unsure about the certificates, you need to sell your house, don’t abandon the sale just yet. We’ve got you covered. We’ve put together this comprehensive guide covering all the certificates you need to sell your house to simplify things for you.

So, here we go…

What are certificates when selling your house?

When selling your house, the term certificate is used to refer to the document that you use as evidence of certain characteristics of the property. This may either be paper or digital. You can also refer to a certificate as a guarantee.

You’ll need most of these certificates for safety and legal reasons as proof of the claims you’re making. For example, it’s not enough to casually tell prospective buyers that you just did some rewiring work. Have a certificate to back it up. Certificates are also proof that a reputable firm did it.

Finding all the certificates you require when selling your house can be overwhelming. But the good news is that you don’t have to find all of them by yourself. Your solicitor has the responsibility of helping you find any legal certifications you may need.

Why are certificates important when selling your house?

It’s likely that you’ve been rummaging through your safe looking for the certificates you need to sell your house to the point of asking, ‘why are certificates important when selling a house? Do I really need certificates to sell my house?’

Well, you’re not alone. Let’s break it down for you…

To begin with, you need to know that there are two kinds of certificates. The first category is certificates that are mandatory by law, while the second set of certificates will give you an added advantage when selling your house.

So, here’s the thing.

Certification – legal

In most cases, certificates are a legal requirement. The major reason here is that both your buyer and the solicitor representing them must see proof of the claims you’re making about the property you’re selling them. As a seller, it is your duty to show proof.

No buyer will want to complete a purchase only to find out later that there are a lot more leasehold fees than expected or, at its worst, they have bought themselves into a boundary dispute.

No certification – less confidence

When selling your house, your goal is to win the trust of a prospective buyer. And nothing spells trust better than having all your paperwork in place. Not paying attention to all documentation associated with your property may be the difference between winning the buyer’s confidence or not.

Certificates are an important indicator of trust because they give the buyer the confidence to proceed with the deal. This is besides showing how well you’ve cared for the property, particularly guarantees.

The lack of documents may be an early warning of the possibility of stumbling into a chain or being unable to sell the property altogether. I know this is a little confusing, so let’s put it into perspective. Let’s say you’re selling a car with full-service history and guarantee. The reality is, you’re likely to see higher interest from buyers and have an upper hand when negotiating than someone who doesn’t have this crucial documentation.

The truth here is you need to have all the relevant certificates ready when selling your house, if only to attract and sell fast. And now to the big question:

What certificates do I need to sell my house?

It is important to have a good understanding of the certificates you need before you put your house up for sale. This will ensure a smooth sale process because there will be no cause for delay. Moreover, you’ll be well knowledgeable about the sales process. This can help expedite the process, ensure a better outcome, and enhance your decision making for your next purchase.

Here is the complete list of all the documents you require when selling your house:

  1. Proof of identity

You’ll need to provide your estate agent and solicitor with proof of your identity before you even begin the sale process. This also applies when you’re selling your home to a ‘sell my house fast’ company.

The reason for this is that any person dealing with property must do due diligence before initiating any transaction. This gives a guarantee that by law, you have the authority to sell the property, except for probate property. Proof of identity also serves as confirmation that you’re not disposing of your property as a way of laundering money.

Where an auctioneer, agent or solicitor doesn’t verify proof of identity, they’ll be liable for breaking anti-money laundering regulations and may be subject to serious penalties, especially if the sale of property is unlawful.

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How do you pass the identity check?

It’s simple! You just need to provide two forms of identity; a proof of address that may be a bank statement or utility bill and photographic evidence. This can be your driving licence or passport.

It is important to mention that you don’t have to worry about your privacy because although these documents are vital when selling your house; they destroy them after five years.

  1. Title deeds

Once you have proven your identity, the next step is proving you are the legitimate owner of the property and have authority to sell it. This calls for you to produce the title deed. This is a certificate that outlines both the past and present ownership over your property and the related land.

If your ownership came into effect after 1986, either you or your solicitor should dig out these documents. You don’t have to worry if you’re unable to find them because your solicitor must apply for official deeds via the Land Registry.

However, it can be a little tricky if you’ve had the property since before 1986 and can’t find the title. This calls for you to take a different approach. This involves applying for a Title Absolute from the Land Registry. This basically means you must prove you legally own the property, and its freehold. This process is time-consuming. If you do this, have a little patience.

  1. Energy performance certificate

By now you must have asked yourself, ‘can I sell my house without an energy performance certificate?’

The answer is no.

Whether it’s part of your buy to let portfolio or your primary residence, you can not sell any residential property without an EPC. Energy performance certificates are so important that you can’t afford to forget them.

An energy performance certificate gives a visual representation of the impact of your home’s CO2. You don’t have to worry about this as an accredited Domestic Energy Assessor will determine this for you. You must grant the assessor access to each of the rooms in your house so that they take photographs, measure, and inspect the heating system before completing your EPC. Here are the two key factors they’ll base the EPC rating on:

  •       The level of CO2 your property produces per year
  •       The amount of energy used per m2.

An important reminder to bring up here is that the EPC is valid for 10 years. So, if you have an EPC from the time you came into ownership of the property, check to see that it’s still valid. There’s no compromise on this, so if your certificate is older, make a point of renewing it.

  1. Leasehold information pack

If you own a leasehold property, you’ll do well to get in touch with the management company or your landlord to get a leasehold information pack. This will usually include important information, like the details of the leasehold agreement that includes service charges, ground rent, building insurance, the freehold itself, and any dispute relating to your property.

One more thing; these packs are not free. They will cost you something within the range of £350-£500.

  1. Share of freehold/ leasehold documentation

This is for you if your property is leasehold or you have a share of the freehold.

If yours is one of these types of tenure, you may need some additional certificates when selling your house. Details of the structure of the leasehold or freehold are important. For instance, is the freehold owned through a management company or is it split; what about the terms of lease? You must make sure the buyer is aware of such important information to avoid complications arising at a later stage.

If you have a leasehold property, you first need to get a copy of the lease. You can get it from the management company or the landlord. This could take some time, but it all depends on their efficiency. If they’ve a history of being slow, don’t take chances. Put in your application early enough so that they don’t hold up your sale.

  1. The fixtures and fittings form (TA10)

This serves to certify exactly what you’ll be removing from or leaving in the property at the completion of the sale. The form will usually include items like a greenhouse, shed, lamps, free-standing wardrobes, curtains, kitchen appliances and anything that is on the property that is not attached to land or built-in. Completing this form accurately will help to avoid disputes in the future.

Quick Tip: As a seller, you can have extra charges for fixtures. These can serve as a great bargaining chip so you can use this to justify your asking price when the seller makes a cheeky offer.

  1. Proof of your house repayments

Although details of your house repayment isn’t all the proof you really need to sell your house, you’ll need to certify your repayments. This includes providing proof of pending finance. Ideally, you’ll need to confirm your account details and the amount you still owe. Here, you also must share any information relating to charges and loans you have taken against your property.

Upon confirmation of these details, you’ll have to sign an undertaking, which is basically a type of legal promise, to say that you shall not transfer any debts to the buyer. You must clarify if you’d like to write them off with your savings or proceeds from the sale. Again, all details of such charges must be on your title deeds.

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Check your title deeds to see if there are charges from past house repayments provided that are not valid. In such a case, you must contact the provider and have them removed, otherwise your buyer may inherit the debt.

  1. The Property Information Form (TA6)

As a seller, you need to fill in this form providing information that makes the buyer aware of details they must know about the property. This is more like the terms and conditions of living in the property.

The property information form will capture:

  1. a)     Environmental methods – An assessment of energy efficiency (EPC) and flood risk of your home.
  2. b)     Disputes – Clearly list any outstanding disputes either with the local authority or your neighbours.
  3. c)     Insurance – Estimated insurance costs for your property. This is important for the share of freehold or leasehold property.
  4. d)     Planning applications – Certification of new windows, extensions, or a loft conversion. Include any home improvement that needs planning permission.
  5. e)     Warranties and guarantees – Provide proof of cover for any objects installed in your house like solar panels, boiler, or a new driveway.
  6. f)       Proposals for development – Give information on any applications for development within your area. This may be anything from a new estate down the road or an extension next door.
  7. g)     Utilities – Make a note on the condition and arrangements relating to utilities within your home. The term ‘arrangement’ is used since some properties could be all electric with others sourcing water from bore holes that are privately owned.
  8. h)     Parking arrangements – Information of where you park your car, the number of spaces you have as well as other arrangements for right of way.
  9. i)       Additional costs – Give an overview of ground rent, maintenance charges and to whom they are payable.
  10. j)       Tenants – This is particularly one to look out for if you’re in a buy to let or the buyer would like to use the property as a buy to let. This means you can sell the property with existing tenants in situ.
  11. k)     Your situation – Give an overview into your situation informing the buyer if you have special requirements or are making an onward purchase.

This is certainly a lot of information and can be overwhelming. Even then, it is the local authorities that will provide most of this information. But there’s a catch. You’ll require anything between 24 hours and a month to get it all together. Therefore, you must be diligent and move with speed to ensure there are no hold ups in the process. The good news is that with most local authorities automating their searches, the time taken should decrease drastically.

  1. Offer acceptance

This is what crowns everything. It’s a confirmation of the offer and its acceptance. You mustn’t confuse offer acceptance with offer confirmation the agent gives you. This is a separate document your solicitor will draft legally outlining your acceptance of the offer.

You’ll also need to sign the Transfer of deeds signifying you’re ready to complete the sale. Your solicitor will also oversee these before exchanging contracts with the buyer. Usually, the contract will capture important information; mainly the sale price, the time/date when you will complete the sale and any legal restrictions related to the sale.

What certificates should you have when selling your house?

I hope you still remember the two categories of certificates you need to sell your house at the beginning of this article; that is those required by law and those that are advantageous to have. Now that we’ve covered the legal ones, let’s now shift to the advantageous ones.

You must know that the certificates that are advantageous to have serve as weaponry that will spur on your sale. By including these certificates in your sale, buyers will have no excuse to limit their offer when you’re sold subject to contract.

Keep in mind that trust is everything when you want to sell your house fast.

So, in the next section we lay bare reasons why you should consider including these certificates when selling your house by providing answers to questions you may already have.

  1. Electrical safety certificate

Does having an electrical certificate have an impact when selling a house?

Well, not quite. You see, the truth here is that while it is possible to sell your house without an electrical certificate, it is not advisable.

Here’s why:

An Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) captures the safety and overall condition of your property’s electrical system. This ensures that any electrical work on the property conducted after 2005 was either done by a professional or someone who complies with building regulations. The EICR certificate is an excellent way of showing buyers you’ve invested to get the work done by a professional. Remember, if your electrical work doesn’t meet the standards, the council may force you to correct it.

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This can be costly.

Therefore, we recommend that you include these certificates when selling your house.

If you’ve had your electrical work done within the past 5 years, you may have a valid electrical safety certificate.

  1. Gas certificate and gas safety record

Do you need a gas safety certificate when selling your house?

You don’t need gas certification to sell your house, but it’s safer to have it. Having your gas certificate and gas safety record means you’re furnishing the buyer with adequate information. This is what shows if you’ve got a boiler installed by a professional Gas Safe Engineer. It means you’re in compliance with your local authority’s building regulations. This certificate is a great asset to buy to let investors because they are a must when letting property. As such, most buyers will ask for a copy so you’re better off having a copy.

If you need to replace your gas certificate, book an appointment with a Gas Safe engineer and be ready to foot the related charges. You can provide a copy of the gas certificate along with the gas safety record as proof that you service your boiler regularly.

  1. FENSA certificate

Do you need a FENSA certificate to sell a house?

FENSA is abbreviation for FENestration Self-Assessment scheme. This was put in place to ensure the way windows and doors are installed meets a professional standard in compliance with building regulations.

If you can prove your windows and doors are fitted to high standards, it goes beyond looking good to giving buyers the assurance about the home improvements in which you’ve invested. Working with a FENSA-approved installer means you get free insurance and warranty.

Putting it all together

Looking at all the documents and certifications you need to sell your property, you realise it’s not a metaphorical walk in the park. Even then, if you’re working with a good conveyancer or solicitor, they can help you navigate this process with ease.

If you’re doing this all by yourself, you can take advantage of public organisations like the government’s website or other related websites. The Law Society’s website is also a good resource where you can get a fixed fee solicitor specialising in conveyancing. This will certainly make the process simpler for you.

Besides, it’s great to get legal advice when you’re either selling or buying property just to be sure you’re on the right path. Whether you’re selling your house because of an imminent break-up from your civil partnership or marriage, trying to stop repossession, getting ready for a relocation, or arranging Powers of Attorney, it’s important to tap into a professional resource. Remember, you can seek help from the Property Ombudsman for any complaints you may have about your sale.

Are you too busy to get the paperwork?

With about 12 certificates to worry about, you must have asked if there’s a way you can avoid dealing with certificates.

Well, you don’t have to worry if you want to sell your property fast and with minimal hassle involved in getting all these documents together. At Springbok Properties, we understand how challenging it can be trying to sell your property without certificates. From being constrained on time to other issues you don’t want to deal with, we’re here to help. Not only will we buy your house fast but we also take care of all the legal costs, so you don’t have to stress about getting the certificates.

Most importantly, we will not hold the lack of certification against you because we buy any house, in any condition and any location.

What do you need to sell a house through a property buying agency?

If you’re considering going for a fast house sale by selling your property to a fast house sale company, you need to first ask the company. You see, when dealing with these companies, whatever certification you need to provide varies from one company to the other.

While some companies will not require you to provide all the documents we’ve discussed above, they can get someone to gather the paperwork on your behalf. This means you’ll only have to respond to some questions they may have about your property. They work in collaboration with your solicitors to complete the sale fast.

Once you’ve taken care of all the necessary paperwork, resulting in the exchange of papers, and signing of contracts, the sales will be legally binding. This means, should any party in the agreement decide to withdraw, then there must be financial compensation. Most importantly, this is a good time to celebrate the fact that you’ve navigated the sale process successfully, especially getting the paperwork right and have sold your property. This is no mean feat! You’ll then need to confirm the stamp duty from your solicitor, especially if the value of your property is above the set threshold. You can do this within 30 days of completing the sale.

Make sure you stay in touch with your conveyancer or solicitor during this period just to be sure you’re well informed about the finalisation of the sale of your property