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Welcome to Homepages quickfind  

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

Preparation

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.

Presentation

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 selling

These first 2 questions are the ones that matter. All the rest are secondary

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 estate agent.

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 wonderfully.

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

Marketing

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 you want.

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

Exchanging Contracts

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

Completion

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.

 
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