Top tips for selling your house

If you’re thinking about putting your property up for sale in England and Wales, read our top tips for selling your house.

Top tips for selling your house

Preparing to sell your home

Before you sell your home, take time to consider why you want to move and what it will involve. Clear planning at this stage will avoid confusion later on.

  • Get an EPC – An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is required for all properties being sold to show its energy efficiency. An EPC makes recommendations for improving energy efficiency which gives you the opportunity to implement any changes, and may improve your chances of selling for a good price.
  • Conditioning your home – You need to get the house in the best condition you can given the constraints of time and money. Any small DIY tasks that can be done without too much fuss should be first on your list. A clutter-free setting will help display your home at its best.
  • Who will sell for you? – It is possible to sell your own home, but most people prefer a professional to do it for them. You can get quotes from conveyancing solicitors to complete the legal process of selling your property through reallymoving.com.

Choosing an estate agent

Selling a home can be a lengthy process so it’s important to find a good, experienced estate agent to help ensure the efficiency of your house sale. Bear in mind to not just be influenced by the cost of the estate agents; it is important to choose an agent that you trust. Your estate agent is there for a reason and there is a lot that depends upon you having a good relationship during your property transaction.

  • Types of agency – There are three main types of estate agency contracts: sole agency, joint agency, and multiple agency. Your choice will be influenced by your requirements, so it’s best to research the differences. The fees charged will depend on the contract you select. Don’t forget to compare both online and high street estate agents.
  • Check the contract – Read through the terms and conditions to find out what the fees are and what is included in the charge before you sign the contract. Most estate agencies charge a standard rate, but it is always worth seeing if you can negotiate the fees.
  • Commission – Ensure you have a ‘no sale no fee’ agreement with your chosen estate agent. A rate of between 1-2% commissions of the value of the house is common. Some agents now offer a no fee promise, but make sure you check against such guarantees.
  • Notice period – Ensure you can move to another agent if you are not happy with your existing agent’s work. Make sure you agree a maximum selling time and know how much notice they require, as being bound into an unsuccessful selling partnership can be frustrating and expensive.

Marketing your property and viewings

Get your property valued by several estate agencies to get a better indication of what price your house should be marketed at. Keep in mind that the highest figure may not be the best to go with, as it may reduce the amount of people wanting to view your property – remember to choose a realistic price.

  • Promoting your house - How do the agents market their properties? Do they use quality colour photographs and regional newspapers? Confirm your agent advertises on the internet, as online property portals are extremely popular for house hunters. You should also inform your estate agent of how quickly you wish to sell, as this will affect how your property is marketed.
  • Presenting your house - Instinct is the way to a buyer’s heart.  Approximately 2.7 seconds is all it takes for a buyer to dismiss a property and there’s nothing worse than an unmade bed and cat hairs on the kitchen surface. Buyers don’t want to see the ins and outs of your personal décor, so before any viewings, make sure your house is clean, tidy and well lit.
  • Accommodate viewings - When someone is trying to arrange a viewing of your property, make sure you are as accommodating to their available times as possible. You might want the agents to show prospective buyers around the property when you are or aren’t there, so check with the agents prior to any viewings.

Negotiating an offer

Ensure a genuine sale.  Buyers don’t want to regret a decision, and after all, a house is not something you can return. A pre-sale survey is the perfect way to reduce hesitation, letting a Chartered Surveyor point out any queries puts the consumer in control and therefore screams confidence to buy.

  • Estate agents – When an offer has been made on your property, your estate agent will pass it on to you. If price negotiations are on-going, they will be able to help you with the process and act as an intermediary to give you an opportunity to consider the offers.
  • Considering an offer – Hard negotiation will surround the making and accepting of an offer. Whilst ‘haggling’ is frustrating, it is part of the process of getting the price you need for your property. It is quite acceptable for you to say you will accept an offer less than your asking price until a better offer comes along. As long as you are direct with buyers they cannot really object. Remember you have no legal obligation to sell until you sign the contract.
  • Understand your buyer – Seriously interested buyers will visit again and again to help them make up their minds. You should talk to them and find out their position with regards to selling their own property and if they have offers in on any other properties.
  • Instruct a solicitor – Once you have accepted an offer on your property, you will be able to instruct your solicitor. Ensure that you have agreed on the solicitors’ fee and check what they will include. Your solicitor will liaise with your estate agent and the buyer’s solicitor so keep in contact with your solicitor to make sure everything is proceeding as it should.

Exchanging contracts and completion

  • Contracts - Once the contracts have been agreed, your conveyancing solicitor will ask you to sign it, and contracts will be exchanged. It’s at this time when the completion date will be agreed. This marks the point when your sale becomes legally binding and breaking a contract at this stage would incur a costly court case. If you are buying a property of your own, ensure there is no expensive and awkward gap between your sale and your purchase.
  • Completion -  Completion day should mean that the funds have been transferred between solicitors, and the buyers can collect the keys from the agents. After months of preparation, the mortgage application process is complete. Now you can finally move in and enjoy your new home.

What if your property hasn’t sold?

  • Stay optimistic - It is easy to start feeling despondent if your property doesn’t attract offers as quickly as you’d hoped. Don’t be disheartened; if you are having difficulty, it may be worth rethinking your marketing strategy. Assess whether the property is competitively priced, whether your advertising reach is broad enough and don’t be afraid to discuss this with your estate agent.

Please note that the advice listed above describes the situation in England and Wales. The legal procedure differs in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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