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Legal kerb appeal: what is it and how can I improve mine?

Legal kerb appeal means having everything in order from a legal perspective when you're ready to sell your home. Here's why that's a good thing.

Guest Author
Words by: Matilda Battersby

Contributor

When selling your home, you'll want to do everything to show it in its best light.

Legal kerb appeal is different to kerb appeal, which is about making your home look as attractive as possible from the street kerb to buyers.

10 ways to improve your kerb appeal

Legal kerb appeal involves clearing any fiddly legal hurdles your buyer's solicitor might uncover out of the way first, ahead of the sale.

It speeds up the conveyancing process and builds trust with your buyer, as it avoids any headaches for them further down the line.

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What is legal kerb appeal?

A home without any potential legal complications has 'legal kerb appeal'.

That makes it more appealing to buyers and helps to make sure the sale goes through to completion.

As the seller, if you know what issues could arise in advance, you’ll know what strategy you'll take when they do. 

That means your sale should proceed more smoothly and with less stress.

Sorting out your legal kerb appeal involves:

  • making sure your paperwork is in order, from filling out forms to finding certificates

  • appointing a property lawyer (also known as a conveyancer) before selling

  • requesting a management pack from your freeholder if your home is a leasehold

Some things are more difficult to predict and may only come up once a sale is further down line.

But there are things you can do to head off problems.

What can I do to improve my legal kerb appeal?

“Improving legal kerb appeal involves addressing legal problems before you find a buyer,”  says Chris Salmon, director at Quittance Legal Services.

1. Get a solicitor as early as possible 

Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of your home from a legal perspective early on. 

You might already know some of them yourself. But for the fuller picture, you'll need to bring in the experts and appoint a solicitor.

This is particularly important if you’re selling a leasehold home. Your solicitor can get the management information pack from the freeholder before you find a buyer. 

For a leasehold, management information often takes weeks to get hold of and is a key factor in delaying sales. So if you can do this before you find a buyer, all the better.

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2. Pre-empt legal problems yourself

Your solicitor will ask you to complete the standard property information forms. They'll include:

The Property Information Form, or TA6

This form provides comprehensive information about your property to potential buyers, so they can decide whether or not to proceed with their purchase. 

It looks into things like:

  • the property boundaries

  • any disputes about the property

  • if any building works have taken place 

  • if the property is in a conservation area or listed

  • which utilities are connected to the property: gas, water, electricity, cable etc

  • guarantees/warranties for damp proofing, timber treatment, electrical works, roofing, central heating, underpinning, windows and glazed doors 

  • if the building’s insured and if claims have been made for things like flooding

  • if the property has an EPC 

  • any Green Deal efficiency measures implemented

  • if Japanese Knotweed has affected the home

Here’s a specimen TA6 form from The Law Society.

If you go through this process before you're under offer, you'll have everything already lined up and in place for a speeder sale.

You'll also need to have certain certificates in place for your property to prove all works to your home have been done inline with Building Regulations and are safe.

They include:

  • FENSA certificates for windows and doors

  • A Gas Safety certificate - to prove your appliances are all safe

  • A boiler safety certificate

  • An Electrical Installation Certificate

  • Planning approval for any major changes to your property

3. Be completely honest 

When you’re completing the forms and talking with your solicitor and your agent, do not hold anything back.

If you have concerns about how to answer a question, ask your solicitor. 

If you cannot find a certificate or warranty that the property forms ask for, tell your solicitor as soon as possible. 

Hiding something now, even if it seems minor, can create difficulties down the line. 

If your buyer discovers the problem later, it could put your sale at risk of falling through.

Even if the issue can be easily resolved, delays are likely and the buyer might lose confidence.

4. Have a backup plan in place

Common legal problems might include missing electrical installation certificates and complications over freeholds or rights of way.

Legal problems can often be solved with a simple indemnity insurance policy.

Policies of this kind are usually inexpensive and can often be faster and cheaper than other options which might also delay your home sale.

Make it clear to your solicitor and your agent that you’re willing to cover the cost of an indemnity policy if you’re anticipating a problem.

Your solicitor can then present this solution to your buyers along with the problem. This could avoid a negative ongoing discussion and save you time.

Find out more about indemnity insurance for a house sale

5. Keep talking with your solicitor and agent

If there’s a legal issue you’re dealing with via your solicitor, keep your agent in the loop. 

Your estate agent will have had experience selling properties with similar issues in the past, and they’ll be able to offer you practical insights.

Do buyers care about legal issues?

Yes, absolutely.

A savvy buyer will spot warning signs at viewings.

'Don’t underestimate the legal awareness of buyers,' says Salmon. 

'Buyers are aware of the legal pitfalls that can cause delays and problems for themselves as new owners.'

'If a buyer is also selling, they will be very aware of the knock-on impact that conveyancing delays could have on their sale.

'Anything that makes your property seem the more straightforward option could swing the odds in your favour.'

Thinking of selling?

Get the ball rolling with an in-person valuation of your home. It’s free and there’s no obligation to sell if you change your mind.


We try to make sure that the information here is accurate at the time of publishing. But the property market moves fast and some information may now be out of date. Zoopla Property Group accepts no responsibility or liability for any decisions you make based on the information provided.