My house has just gone on the market for sale, how long it will take to sell and then close?

Article by Heather Chilvers from Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty

How long will it take to close? Well in honesty that completely depends on how prepared you are. What do I mean by prepared? I mean that there are several things that have to happen before you should put your property onto the market, and here they are:-

Find your deeds:  Where are your deeds? If you have a mortgage they are most likely with your bank. If you own the house outright they will most likely be in your possession, in a safety deposit box or with your lawyer.  Locate them and have your lawyer look at them to make sure everything is in order.  It is amazing how many deed packages have things missing, or are missing altogether! Is everyone named on the deeds still alive? If not has probate been completed; this usually takes 6 months or more.  Do you have all the correct paperwork pertaining to that, death certificates, wills etc.  Are you divorced? Likewise, you will need all the relevant paperwork .

Have your property staked and surveyed and a new plan done if necessary: People are amazed that this should be done before putting their property on the market for sale (and it does involve cost). However, one in every four properties on the island, has a boundary issue of some sort. It is wise to have this corrected before putting the property on the market for sale. No lawyer or banker  will allow a buyer to move forward unless good title is given and a boundary, right of way or planning dispute does not represent clear title.      

Prepare your Property: Clean, tidy, painted, clutter and debris free. I have said this countless times but please do it. Your bank balance will thank you as it will attract more buyers and higher offers.

Photos:Give your agent time to take good photos, or arrange for professional photos if you are in the upper price bracket.  The better your photos and video footage are, the more people will look at your property.

Pricing your listing: Your listing agent will work hard to supply you with comps and a comparative market analysis.  If in doubt have a professional appraisal done, in truth it is the market that decides the price not you, the agent or even the appraiser.

Putting a Great Marketing Plan together takes time: Once the marketing campaign is launched, prospective buyers will want to view the property. If it is priced correctly traffic should be good, and you should begin to get offers. In a perfect world you might get offers and acceptance within the first three months. 

Review of paperwork by lawyers: When an offer has been agreed and the sale and purchase agreement has been drafted, it’s not unusual for it to take between a two to four weeks for everyone to review the sale and purchase agreement. During this time, the bank may have to send out an appraiser, the purchasers are pursuing their finance arrangements and a structural survey completed if necessary.  Sometimes there are multiple parties or travel arrangements are involved if people live overseas. Sometimes the property is tenanted and all of this affects time frame.

Conveyancing: Once the contract has been signed and conditions of the contract have been  met, financing has been secured and conveyancing can begin. The lawyer will submit a planning search to government (this takes at least 30 days).  During this time if you have not heeded my suggestion, the property will need to be surveyed, stakes located or replaced and a new metric plan done if the old one is in feet and inches. Surveyors are currently running with about 4/6 weeks work ahead of them, so this could take 6 weeks. If there is an anomaly with the boundary at this point it will have to be rectified, and if that takes a long time (which it can) there is a strong risk you could lose your buyer, and have to start the process all over again, plus incur additional legal fees.

Once all this has been done, the property can progress towards closing.

So you can see it can be easy to underestimate how complex and time consuming the sales process can be, hence correct pricing is essential. A rough rule of thumb for a local property priced correctly, selling to a local purchaser with offer and acceptance within first month of launch… best case scenario would be to 30 days from signing a contract. Also, if a license is required by the purchaser (PRC or International buyer) the time frame could add 6 months or more.

Your success lies in your preparation. A good Agent will walk you carefully through these steps, so that when you receive a good offer you will be in a strong position to move forward.

Visit Heather’s Facebook page ‘Ask Heather Chilvers Real Estate’ to like and share this article.

Heather Chilvers is amongst Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty’s Leading Sales Representatives. She has been working in Real Estate for 28 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at or 332 1793. All questions will be treated confidentially.

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