Step By Step Guide to Selling a House
1. Arrange your finances
One of the most important things to consider before putting your house market is how much it is worth. There are a number of ways to figure this out. Some may opt for an online valuation; however, this may not be the most accurate method. You could have an estate agent value the property. Or, you can have a valuation survey completed. This will provide you with the most accurate value of your property as compared to houses in your local area. Once you have weighed up all the necessary information, you can decide how much you are going to sell your house for.
You should also consider how much of the mortgage is yet to be paid. The price that you sell your house for will need to cover the remaining balance.
There are also a number of other fees associated with selling a house so you need to ensure you have a budget to cover this. The average costs for conveyancing, estate agent fees and various other costs will be discussed later in this article.
2. Make your house look its best
Selling a house for a good price often comes down to the appearance of the property both internally and externally. Although buyers are left with a mostly blank slate once they move in, they often view a house with visions of buying the lifestyle that comes with it. Making your house attractive to potential buyers is one of the simplest things you can do to ensure a quick sale.
Fixing imperfections, decluttering and a touch of redecorating are all viable methods of making your house more desirable. In our ‘top tips for selling your house’, you’ll find recommendations for presenting your garden, tidying your home and making it inviting to buyers.
3. Choose an estate agent to work with
Selecting an estate agent to market your house is a big decision. There are certain factors you should consider to ensure you are working with an agent that has you best interests in mind. You should thoroughly research an agent before agreeing to their services. Word of mouth can be a great resource in finding reliable and efficient agents. Those used by family and friends provides first hand experience of their customer service and professional abilities.
Some other things to consider include the fees for selling your house. This can occasionally be negotiated to get a better deal. It is typically recommended that you shop around a few agents to get the best offer. You should also review their previous work. Checking their professional photographs of properties can be a great insight. When selling a house, drab photos can lead to a slow sale.
Don’t Forget About Online Estate Agents: It can be easy to get caught up in the obvious choice of high street estate agents. However, their services aren’t always consistent and they charge some of the highest fees. Online estate agents, such as the services provided by MovingSorted.com are able to offer lower prices for a premium service. Your property will be advertised across the country, increasing the scope of potential buyers, guaranteeing you a faster sale than the traditional methods.
4. Get an energy performance certificate
An EPC is required by law when selling your house. It is the seller’s responsibility to make arrangements for this survey. It should be made available to buyers so that they have information regarding the property’s energy efficiency as well as the costs for running the property.
During the conveyancing stage, the buyer’s solicitor will request the EPC from you. If you do not have one at this point, you could face a penalty fine. This will also cost you additional delays in the time that it takes you to acquire one.
Make sure you get your EPC sorted early. Get your quote for an energy performance certification on your property now.
5. Market your property
Once your EPC is completed, your property is ready to go on the market. If you are working with an estate agent, they will likely send a professional photographer to take pictures of your property. It is recommended that you take advantage of this service. A good photographer will be able to make small rooms appear much larger and enable darker spaces to seem light and airy. These are all vital factors in selling your house efficiently.
There are alternative methods of marketing your property that don’t always require an estate agent. You can market to the local area through word of mouth. Mentioning to your neighbours that you are selling, or handing out flyers with your contact detail, could save you hundreds of pounds in estate agents fees. We discuss this strategy in more detail in our top tips for selling a house.
6. Prepare for viewings
Once you start to have some interest in your house, you should prepare for potential buyers to come and view it. In anticipation for viewers, you want make the house clean and tidy and create as much space as possible. Creating floor space and presenting a light and airy space is priceless for quickly selling your house.
Consider leaving the property during viewings. Estate agents can have a spare key to your house and will accompany potential buyers throughout the entire viewing. Stepping on their toes too much can put buyers off. They won’t want to talk about the quality or state of the property in front of you and the social pressure adds an unnecessary tension to the experience. Allow them to be completely relaxed in their viewing by taking a step back. This will be rewarded with excited and willing buyers.
You will have the opportunity to negotiate with buyers once offers are agreed. This should never occur during a viewing. You also shouldn’t have to feel responsible for selling your house to viewers if you are working with an estate agent. The agent should be equipped with everything there is to know about the property. They will point out the key features and amenities, they might even know more about the property than you do!
7. Receive offers
After you’ve had a few viewings, you should start to see some offers. Your estate agent will inform you as soon as you’ve had an offer but be sure to keep in touch if you haven’t heard anything from them in a while. Accepting an offer can be a difficult decision and is to your discretion.
We recommend thinking about the lowest price you’d accept after you’ve decided on your asking price. Buyer’s will try to negotiate to get a better deal on the property, you should therefore ensure your asking price is set to a point that is slightly higher than what you would actually be happy with. This encourages buyers to offer a lower price whilst still meeting your satisfaction. Just be careful not to overprice your property as this can lower buyer interest.
8. Accept an offer
Accepting an offer is one of the hardest parts of selling your house. You might never feel like you sold your house for the price you wanted or you might get an incredible offer that is higher than you ever expected. The offers that you receive truly depend on the quality of the property market at that point in time. If you are working during a specifically competitive period, property value can rocket. Some sellers use techniques such as sealed bids get the highest offers out of a group of potential buyers.
To accept an offer the process is actually very simple. All it takes is a phone call to the estate agent to let them know which offer you would like to proceed with. They will let the buyer know. The agent should also inform all other parties that the property is now off the market.
9. Hire a conveyancing solicitor
After accepting an offer, you need to formally instruct your conveyancing solicitor to begin the conveyancing process. For the most efficient progression, it would be best to choose your solicitor before accepting an offer.
During the conveyancing process you will need to complete a variety of questionnaires regarding the property. These are used by both the conveyancers and the buyers to determine details about the property.
In a similar fashion to selecting an estate agent, you should consider which solicitor to work with based on their previous work, recommendations and costs. Online conveyancing solicitors are an increasingly popular choice that are able to complete your sale quickly and cost effectively. To compare the low price of online conveyancing from MovingSorted.com get an online quote.
10. Negotiate contracts
You should work closely with your conveyancing solicitor during this key stage of the conveyancing process. Your solicitor will draw up a draft version of the exchange contract to send to the buyer’s solicitor for approval. You should tell your solicitor all the conditions of sale that you want included and ensure the correct price has been agreed.
After receiving the contract back form the buyer’s solicitor you might find additional amendments. Your conveyancing solicitors will talk you through these so you can decide whether you want to agree with the conditions or re-negotiate with the buyer. Most often, this can compromise inclusion of fixtures or certain repairs.
11. Agree a moving date
Date of completion, also known as the moving date, should be agreed before the exchange of contracts. There are certain things to consider when agreeing upon a moving date. This can include the how soon you are able to move and which day of the week is most preferable.
There will likely be a clause in your contract that states the property you are selling should be vacant upon completion. Simply put, this means that the property will need to be empty after completion and keys are handed over. Whilst you do not have to move into a new property straight away, after completing you do need to move out of the property you have sold and all belongings should also be out of the property.
If you are moving into another property on a different day to completion, we have written a guide to help you choose which day you should move house.
12. Exchange contracts
Exchange will occur once buyer and seller have both signed contracts and the two have been exchanged between each conveyancing solicitor. The agreement for the sale of the house becomes legally binding at the point.
As the seller, if you were to pull out of the exchange, you would be in breach of the contract and there would be financial penalties. In some cases, buyers have taken the seller to court for reparation of legal fees and other damages. Ensure you are absolutely sure on selling your property before exchanging contracts. You should see this stage as a point of no return.
13. Prepare for moving
You’ve almost made it. Contracts are exchanged and a date has been agreed for moving. All that’s left to do now is pack up your house and prepare to move.
As soon as you know your moving date it is best practice to book a removals company asap. Booking removals at late notice can lead to extremely high prices or low availability. You want to get in there first.
You should also consider whether you require skip hire for decluttering or waste removal during the packing process. Also consider whether you require storage services if you aren’t going to be moving into a new property straight away.
There are also plenty of things to update, and prepare for your move. Check out our essential moving checklist to make sure you cover them all.
Finally! You have made it to completion. You should be extremely proud of yourself at this stage in the process. Selling a house is long and difficult and you’ve made it all the way to completion. At this point you should hand your keys to your estate agent for them to be given to the new owner and be on your way to your new home.
For an insight what you will experience on completion day, see our article on what to expect on completion day.
14. Move house
Check out our Homepage to discover everything you need to know about moving house. We cover the ‘Dos and Don’ts of moving house,’ ‘How to Destress During the Move’ as well as what you should remember ‘After you’ve Moved’
8 Top Tips for Selling a House
When potential buyers come to view your house, the property becomes a product pitch. Some buyer’s can be especially picky, but you want to appeal to them as much as possible. Why does your property stand out from the rest? We’ve curated a handy list of top tips to make your house the property that all the buyers want.
Tip 1. First impression (kerb appeal)
As soon as a ‘For Sale’ sign goes up outside your front door, your property attracts a whole new audience. People who may walk past your house everyday might now look at it and think ‘would I want to live there?’ They might make their decision purely based on the appearance of the exterior of your house, despite never stepping foot inside.
For many potential buyers, the first point of contact with a property is the front of your house. This is where they’ll make their first impression. Whether it’s through a photograph or whilst passing by your property. If the first impression isn’t a good one, you’re going to have a really hard time selling your house.
So, how can you improve your kerb side appeal?
There are any number of actions you can take to spruce up the exterior of your property. It all depends on it’s current state and appearance. Sometimes, a quick tidy up can be all it takes to get the front of your house looking good as new. In other cases, more drastic measures might have to occur.
Here are some of our top recommendations:
- Give everything a good clean: If this is something you have neglected for a few months or even years, you likely aren’t going to notice how dull your home looks. However, pressure washing the driveway, cleaning the windows and front door can make you home look brand new
- Restore your front door: The entrance to your property is something that you use nearly every day. Potential buyers will unconsciously make decisions on a property because of this. Now, you don’t always have to go out and buy a brand-new front door. But, a fresh lick of paint could help spruce things up. Any spots of cracked or flaked paint, or just to freshen things up can really improve its appearance.
- Manicure the garden: If you have any greenery outside your property, viewers can really buy into a well-trimmed lawn, or perfectly shaped hedges. Dust off the gardening tools and get it looking gorgeous.
- Liven things up: Maybe you don’t have a front garden or a particularly exciting exterior. You might be thinking that all your potential buyers are driven away by boredom. Adding some colour or a touch of life can really help. Whether you introduce a potted plant next to your front door, a hanging basket or two or even a quaint welcome sign to the front door. Buyer’s will be much more enticed if there is something that draws their eye to the property.
Kerb-side appeal is not something you should spend all your time and money on. However, before photos are taken and viewings begin, it’s worth investing some effort on to give you that extra edge for selling your house.
Tip 2. Marketing tactics
Most Seller’s tend to completely rely on their estate agent for all the marketing and managing of the sale. There is absolutely no problem with this! Your estate agent should work completely in your favour. They will present you with all offers that come in and should be able to help you during the negotiation process. Estate agents are really helpful for staying organised and not having to deal with too much on your plate.
However, consider how much time you have to market the property by yourself before you look into hiring an estate agent. If you live in a particularly popular estate, you might find that an agent isn’t even necessary. Competitive housing estates often have a lot of demand and not much availability of property. If you are lucky enough to be in this position, you may be able to secure a simple selling process.
Before instructing an estate agent, consider letting your neighbours know about your plans to sell. Distributing flyers throughout the local area can also be effective. Word of mouth for popular properties are frequently the only type of marketing you could ever need.
If you happen to find a buyer without utilising an estate agent, you could save yourself hundreds of pounds in agents costs. You wouldn’t be tied to payment of their fees or admin costs. You can move straight on to the conveyancing stage.
Tip 3. Freshen up
A deep clean can be a pivotal step in making your house much more appealing to potential buyers. Once they start to move around your property and begin to put their nose up at dust and grime, they are much more likely to choose a fresh and sparkling property. This can all be solved with a few hours of elbow grease to ensure your house is spick and span.
Tip 4. Declutter
Buyers aren’t always as open minded as they should be. The majority of the time, people are purchasing the property and the space, not the items in it. However, a cluttered or overly personalised space can make it hard to see the blank canvas behind it all.
If you are committed to moving, it shouldn’t be too much hassle to start packing up early. Start putting away some of the clutter that makes your house a home. Anyone that views the property will be grateful for it and it might lead to a faster sale.
Of course, you shouldn’t feel obligated to pack up your entire house for the sake of a viewing. There is usually a number of weeks and months between accepting an offer and completing the exchange. Packing away essential items is therefore inconvenient. However, certain things that are not used every day or are just out on the sides could be moved around.
Try simplifying your space. Reduce the number of decorative items that are placed around the house. Declutter shelves. Tidy floor space and make it easy to manoeuvre around.
Consider depersonalising the space by removing posters, flags or items personal to you. Photos don’t always have to come down but a buyer will want to imagine their family in the house, rather than yours.
Tip 5. Appeal to the senses
After a period of time in your own home, you become accustomed to the scents that tend to linger around. This doesn’t always mean there are bad smells in your home but, an uncommon strong scent can be off putting for buyers. The simplest solution is to have windows open before and during the viewing. Airing the property out can make it seem a lot fresher and less stuffy.
Bad odours within a property can be a clear decisive deterrent for many buyers. Further action might have to be taken, rather than just opening a window. There are a number of bad smells in properties that can send buyers out your door straight after they’ve stepped in. These can include:
- Cigarette smoke
- Dog or pet smells
- Cooking odours
Cleaning any soft furnishings may be useful for cigarette or pet odours. Candles, diffusers and room sprays may also be effective a few hours before the viewing, but don’t allow them to be overpowering. Fresh scents tend to work best for creating a pleasant environment. Try one of these:
On the other hand, good smells can be very inviting to a buyer. When purchasing property, most people are also buying a new way of life. The smell of freshly brewed coffee, baked bread or cookies tends to entice people and can be something that they’ll remember above other properties. Offering a pleasant experience to your viewers can be the key to efficiently selling your house. Just make sure to provide some cookies so they aren’t disappointed once they reach the kitchen!
Tip 6. Fix things up
Little snags that have been on your to do list for a while should be high on your priorities now that you want to sell. When you spend a long time in a property, you can start to overlook certain things. All these faults will suddenly become very apparent to you as soon as you decide to sell.
Anything that looks messy or not quite as it should can reduce the interest that buyers have in your property. Whilst some buyers do look for properties that require some work, not all want a fixer-upper.
Take an inventory of each location in your house. Move from room to room with a paper and pen and note down every little job that needs doing. You need to check from floor to ceiling because many of your buyers will likely do the same thing. Once you have a comprehensive list you can start crossing things off. Start with the most noticeable like flaky paint or broken fixtures and work your way down to the nit-picky details.
If there are major repairs that you have been putting off, you should really consider getting them fixed now. Unless you advertise your property stating the fault, buyers will potentially have surveys completed and are likely to find out the hidden problems within your property. This will lead to a highly unproductive selling process. You will likely have to fix the problems sooner or later so save yourself the hassle and get it sorted now.
Tip 7. Garden
We have already discussed the benefits of improving your kerb side appeal. If you’ve gone to all the effort at the front of your house, why would you forget about the back. This might not apply to you if you don’t have a back garden, or you already keep your garden in pristine condition. But for those sellers’ whose garden is a touch overgrown or needs some TLC, spend the time and effort to get big reward.
An open green garden is often high on many people list of ‘Must Haves.’ They won’t want to consider the maintenance and work that will be required straight away though. Making your garden presentable will be much more appealing to those looking for the aesthetic value of a property.
Cutting the grass, doing a touch of weeding and trimming any hedges can be all it takes to get your garden looking good. Try and keep it tidy of clutter whilst showing off what a great feature you have in addition to your property.
Tip 8. Define the use of each room
Over time, you’ve probably found a purpose for every patch of space in your house. You may have converted the garage to a gym and the spare room into a home office. Whilst preparing for viewings and photographs of your property, consider converting certain rooms back to their intended purpose.
The spare bedroom that has been converted to an office may be useful for you, but for a family that will need use of every bedroom will consider the value of bedrooms to be higher. This goes for dining rooms as well. A dining room might be converted to a play room or additional living space. However, it is something that potential buyers might want to see when viewing a property.
Utilising your space as intended may also offer a more spacious appearance. You’ll likely be decluttering in the process and moving furniture that isn’t essential to the function of the room. This can offer plenty more floor space than an additional desk or storage unit that doesn’t need to be in a room.
When deciding what should be moved around, consider what is essential to your daily routine. If rearranging your whole house for the sake of a viewing seems like a pointless task, you don’t have to do it. Ensure the benefits outweigh the limitations before causing yourself hassle.
What you Should Know Before Selling a House
You’re not done spending money on the house you are selling until you walk away for the last time
Even after accepting an offer on a property and making your way towards the finish line, you are going to encounter additional costs. During the negotiations of contracts, the buyers may propose conditional agreements for the sale of the property. This can include any number of repairs or services to be completed on the house.
Structural deficits and significant hazards within the property will likely be the most costly demands from buyers. You may also encounter requests for deep cleaning, gardening or guttering services before the contract can be completed.
Consider the needs within your property when debating an offer. It would be in your best interest to address these issues before you come to selling.
You can’t take it all with you
Although you might have considered taking curtains, chandeliers and fitted shelves you might find that you won’t actually be able to take these things with you. Any furnishing or fixing to the property is considered part of the house when sold. To be able to take these items with you, you’ll have to get it written into the contract and agreed with the buyer.
Consider whether these items will genuinely fit into your new home before having changes to the contract made. When you decorated this house, it was likely in coordination with the space and the design of the room. Will this apply in your next home? Sometimes fixtures are meant for that space but not others.
You will start to see flaws in your home like never before
Before you started thinking about selling your house, there are certain imperfections you would have never noticed. As soon as your thought process switches, you’ll probably start to see many more flaws than you realised existed.
This process will start as you begin to pack your things up and change rooms around for presentation rather than how you find comfortable. You might start to realise chips, flakes and cracks that weren’t on your radar previously. If they are particularly noticeable, you might want to fix them before it comes to viewings.
You will feel like a stranger in your own home once the sale is finalised
As you start to pack up your belongings and take down family photographs and memories you might start to feel like a stranger in your own home. The realisation is sinking in that you’ll be moving out soon, likely to never return to the property. The process can be emotional and you might start to feel some dread or regret.
In this situation it is important to remember that you are selling the property, not the memories and good times that you experienced within it. You might be leaving a home that you grew up in or your children grew up in. You might have experienced some really important milestones within your life in that property. All of this comes with you. Don’t think of it as leaving something behind, but instead as starting a new chapter. There was a reason you wanted to move to a new house and this is what you should focus on.
Save all your maintenance records and paperwork
Months or years before moving, you might not think of keeping the invoices and details of any work that you had done to the property. However, these can be really valuable when selling your house. If there are issues flagged within a survey that you can prove were fixed or demonstrate that a fitting was made to the property by a registered labourer, you will likely have a much smoother selling experience.
Although it might be hindsight to consider these things, take it on board for the next property you purchase. Alternatively, if you believe that you do have these documents within your possession, try to gather them before putting your house on the market. You will need to manage your filing system at some point before moving, why not start sooner rather than later.
Don’t feel pressurised by the estate agents
If the property market is facing a fast or slow period you may face pressure to complete from your estate agent. In fact, this can occur at any time if they are anxious to get a sale on their books. This pressure can rush you into decisions that you may not have otherwise made.
You might find yourself accepting an offer that you didn’t want to take or making commitments that you weren’t fully informed about. If you are feeling this pressure from your estate agent, you can put your foot down and ask for some time to process this situation. If you are also finding that things aren’t happening as efficiently as you’d like, you may also want to consider marketing your property with a different agent. This can incur additional costs however.
Prepare for things to not go as smoothly as you’d expect
Property exchange is one of the most complicated transactions that you’ll make in your life. There are numerous stages that must be completed and things to keep track of. There are also plenty of things that can go wrong. Preparing for the worst, is likely one of the best strategies for keeping stress low.
There will be delays along the process, you might lose a buyer and struggle to sell your property. Anticipating these difficulties can be much easier than panicking anytime something goes wrong. Working with professionals can reinforce the process but also prepare for something to go wrong along the way.
Q1. Should I sell my house before I buy my next home?
The advantage of selling your house before purchasing your new home is that it avoids the complication of a chain. This means you don’t have to rely on other properties completion to be able to sell yours and secure your next home.
Selling your house chain free also gives you the potential to be a cash buyer if you make enough money from your previous property. This could save you money on your next purchase as cash buyers are easier to complete with.
When selling your house before buying another, make sure you consider where you and your belongings will stay during the interim. Once your house is sold you will no longer be able to stay at the property. You may therefore have to rent accommodation or place your belongings in storage for an undetermined amount of time.
Q2. How much will the move cost?
There are a variety of basic and additional costs you will pay whenever selling a house. For all properties the exact price will be different.
The basic fees include:
EPC £35-£150: An energy performance certificate is a compulsory requirement for selling your house. Various providers will offer different quotes for the certificate. Ensure you work with a licensed EPC provider.
Estate Agent Fees £3905 (Avg): The cost of estate agents’ services can vary greatly. Their fees are based on a percentage of the price your house sells for. The percentage tends to be between 0.75% and 3.0%. This figure should be negotiated when instructing your agent.
Conveyancing: £400-£2000: A conveyancing solicitor will draw up contracts for the exchange of properties but will also complete various legal searches and checks against the property. These services each have their own individual costs. You solicitor will likely charge one price and will include a fee for their services as well as the costs of each of the required actions. They should discuss this with you before agreeing to work with you.
Removals: £200 – £1000: Costs for removals services all depend on the amount of furniture and size of items that you want moving. For example, relocating the belongings from a one-bedroom flat will be far less expensive than moving a five-bedroom house. Prices will also vary depending on peak times, availability and how soon you book.
Q4. What should I look for in a buyer?
There are some variations in the type of buyer you will encounter. Selecting an offer from one specific type of buyer can have advantages over another, even if they are offering a different amount of money for your property.
- First time buyers: You will often experience a faster sale with first time buyers. This is because they are completely chain free. They are likely moving from rented accommodation which can make them more flexible than buyers who are also trying to sell their property. You should check that all buyers have a mortgage agreement in principal as well as the appropriate finances to purchase the property
- Buyers in a chain: These are buyers that are also selling their property. By accepting their offer, you become part of their chain. You would be relying on their buyer to complete so that your sale can complete. You are likely to face a longer and more complicated sale.
- Cash buyers: A cash buyer is a party that is able to purchase a property in full. They have likely paid the mortgage on a property in the past and sold that property to have access to the full amount of funds needed to purchase your property. An offer from a cash buyer tends to be lower as an exchange for flexibility and a faster completion.
Your decision should be made based on the individual offers and what position you want to be in. If you want to sell fast, ensuring that you don’t become part of a chain is your best chance. However, beware of lower offers from cash buyers.
Q5. What to do if your home won’t sell?
Plenty of different reasons can be preventing the efficient sale of your house. Sometimes the market can be in a slump and you may have to be patient. However, if you’re property has been on the market for over 2 months you should consider lowering the price or switching agents.
In the circumstance that your asking price is wrong, you should consider revaluing the property. What was your approach to start with? Did you have various opinions from a number of estate agents who compared prices in the local areas? You might find that not enough research was done to provide a price that is representative of your property and the area. Having a valuation survey completed might help you rethink the pricing strategy.
If you believe the price of the property is correct and instead your issue is the estate agents, there are a number of routes you can take. The first thing you should try is to ask them whether they are using all available channels to market the property. If they are only advertising your property on their website instead of property sites like Rightmove and Zoopla, there are additional solutions to boost interest.
If your agent suggests there is nothing else, they can do to increase buyer interest, consider switching estate agents. There will likely be an exclusivity notice period that prevents you from using another agent whilst the previous ones are advertising your property. After this period is up, seriously reflect on who the most effective agents are available to you.
Consider online estate agents. For a more efficient and convenient process for both buyer and seller online agents like Movingsorted.com offer estate agent services across the country. This widens the reach for potential buyers. 24/7 services also mean you’ll receive much more outreach than is available during working hours