Selling your home
This is for selling a house in England and Wales
- the procedure is
different in Scotland
New: Sell your own home on Homepages for £50+vat
Click here for details
Before you start the process of selling your house, there are some things
you should think about:
Motivation and Timescales
Think carefully about why you're moving, what constraints you have and when
you need to move. This will determine your whole approach to the process.
Moving house is stressful, time-consuming and expensive.
A dirty property, or one where decoration is obviously required will not
command the same price as a clean, well presented property. Its well worth
spending the odd weekend doing the annoying little maintenance jobs that
you've put off for ages. Potential home-buyers will notice if, for
instance, the skirting board hasn't been painted and may wonder what other
things haven't been done.
Don't be tempted to do any radical new work. You may think that
purple painted ceilings adds thousands of pounds to the value of the house - others
may not. If in doubt, be conservative. If you fancy doing it yourself, check out the
wow factor website for some ideas (you can even
order The Wow Factor online)
Most sellers should consider getting a professional House Doctor
in to do those changes that can really add value to your home when it comes to
selling it, or that change it from a property that sits on the market for ages
into one that gets snapped up straight away.
Selling it yourself
Selling your own home is not necessarily a straightforward task. Estate agents are
often their own worse enemy in this regard - they make it look easy, but in truth it
only becomes easier with experience. It will take a lot
of time and a fair amount of perseverance to see this through to the end, and you will
need to pick up a few skills along the way, such as valueing your property (consider doing a Land Registry
search for house sale prices of similar properties in your area using a service such as
OurProperty.co.uk's free service),
marketing it and negotiating the final contract. If you have already decided to sell your home
yourself then you might want to think about putting your property on Homepages
- at just £50+vat it could be money well spent - see our private sellers page for more details. There are
some sites that specialise in selling your house for you, but since the demise of the best known of these,
Easier plc, many have fallen by the wayside.
Choosing an Agent
Assuming that you want an agent to sell your property, shop around. Some
agents offer a good service at reasonable prices, whilst others do next to nothing
for properties that don't match their normal portfolio.
Important questions to ask:
What's the commission rate? The rate is almost always negotiable and
generally vary from 1% to 2.5% of the sale value. Make sure its a no sale
- no fee basis
What's the notice period? If you want to move to a different agent because,
for instance, you aren't getting many viewings, how much notice will you need to give?
Some agents tie you in for ages, which can be a real drag if the property isn't
These first 2 questions are the ones that matter. All the rest are
How will they market the property? Make sure the details will be printed in
colour. Ask which newspapers the property will be advertised in, and how
often. Will it be listed at other branches/agents?
Do they advertise on the Internet? If so, how effectively? Will it appear
just on the agents website, or also on large property sites such as Homepages?
How do they value the property? Often, this is the deciding factor for
people selling a property - but it shouldn't be. There are thousands of
stories of agents who claim to be able to sell a property for thousands
more than the agent next door simply to get the instruction.
Will they do accompanied viewings? This may help if you are
unsure about showing your house in its best light. It may also simplify your life
if you are often out of the house as the agent can show people round at times to suit them
rather than matching up with your busy schedule. However, you may feel uncomfortable about
someone else showing strangers around your home when you are not there.
Get several agents to look at the property, ask lots of difficult
questions. Hear what they have to say. Don't agree to anything while they
are there. Stop, think and decide while you're not being pressured by the
Decisions to make:
Sole or joint agency. Joint agency is more expensive (typically an extra
0.5% commission) but it does concentrate the minds of the agents
Which agents. Pick your agent from the criteria above plus, most
importantly, do you trust the agent to the best job possible for you?
How much. Its your decision how much you put the property on the market
for - not the estate agents. Don't be bullied into a price that you don't
think is right. Note that prices are no longer secrets held by estate agents only
- services like OurProperty.co.uk let you
look up house prices from the Land Registry database for free
Once the estate agent has been chosen, and the paperwork signed, the agent
appear with camera, tape measure and appalling grasp of English to produce
the property details. You will need to review particulars before sending
out - make sure they are both correct and present the property in the way
Once visitors start coming, you'll develop a spiel for showing people
round. Tell them what you love about living there - making it relevant to
the people looking. If you're really keen, bake bread and play Mozart on
the Hi-fi - it all helps to create the impression of a home that would be a
great place to live. Be prepared for difficult questions - but don't lie.
If you're moving because the neighbours are awful - don't claim that
you're best mates, just mutter something nondescript about wanting to move
to a property that is larger/smaller/nearer the grandchildren.
If people are serious, they will generally visit a second time. Use this
opportunity to find out about the potential buyer's situation. Where are
they in the process of selling their property? Is the mortgage arranged?
Are there any other constraints?
Receiving an offer
Assuming they like the property, the buyers will put in an offer. Take
time to think about your response and remember that this is a negotiation
with other things apart from the price to play with. This is a time to
play hard - but fair.
Find out if the buyer has put in any offers on other properties
If you are tempted to gazump the buyer - at least tell them. Answer like
"That's not as much as I was hoping for, but I'll accept it unless a better
offer come along between now and the exchange of contracts"
If you want to move quickly - tell them. "I'll accept that price if you
move quickly. You've got 2 weeks to exchange contracts, after which the
property goes back on the market"
All of this is rather different in Scotland where offers are legally
binding. An offer in England and Wales usually is subject to contract, which
means that it isn't binding without a contract behind it, and as you haven't
agreed one yet (and probably won't if you don't want the property) the
offer isn't legally binding. There are some other subtle differences due to
Scottish law, but the main difference is when making and accepting offers.
Between the acceptance of offer and exchange, the buyer has to do lots of
running around. As a seller, your obligations are really only to answer
the questions from the buyers solicitors and to ensure you're ready to
sign. At this stage you are still under no legal obligation to sell.
You'll need to contact your mortgage company about transferring the deeds
and security for the mortgage if you buying a property at the same time
This is when it gets legal. You sign a piece of paper, they sign a piece
and it becomes legal. It you decide to pull out after exchanging
contracts, it could get very expensive. Similarly delays beyond the agreed
completion date incur interest that mounts rapidly
If you are buying a different property, make sure you exchange on selling
you existing property before buying the new one - or you could be left with
an unexpected bridging loan!
Arrange for the transfer of utilties and mail deliveries
You should have agreed when you will move out. Leave the property in the
condition you would like to find it. Many moves are marred by people
leaving rubbish everywhere, taking light fittings and lightbulbs. Its
petty and unnecessary. Cut some fflowers from the garden, stick them in a
milk bottle in the kitchen and they'll thank for years to come.
On completion day, your solicitor will tell you when the money has arrived.
Then either you or the agent can hand over the keys.