If you’re thinking of moving house, or maybe buying your very first home, there are so many factors to consider, such as what is my current property worth? What areas should I be considering a move to? What will the costs of moving to be? How much of a mortgage will I be able to take out? Which agent should I entrust with the sale of my current home? We hope the below helps with some of these questions.
Selling your home can be daunting – all the more so if you are looking for another property to buy at the same time. The decisions you make along the way could save you – or cost you - many thousands of pounds. Here’s everything you need to know about the process of selling a house.
Should you sell your house at all?
If you’re considering selling your home because you need more space, it could be worth comparing the cost of building an extension, converting the attic, or digging out the basement? The costs of selling a home can be so significant (particularly with stamp duty) that it might even save you money to expand your existing home. Or maybe you are thinking about downsizing? If so we look at the pros, cons, options and what you need to consider in our guide “Should I Downsize?”. And finally, depending upon your circumstances, you might be better off renting your home out rather than selling, so do look at our guide on that subject to: “Should I rent or sell?”.
How to sell a house
1. Figure out your finances
Before you sell your house, you’ll want to get a rough idea of how much it is worth, so you can then calculate how much money you will be left with after you have paid off the mortgage. Try our instant free valuation tool. Or call us on 01892 514100 to arrange a personalized valuation. Look at your mortgage paperwork or speak to your lender to check if you will have to pay any early repayment charges for switching your mortgage to another lender or whether it is possible to take it with you to a new property – a process known as porting. If you’re planning to move to a more expensive property or your mortgage deal is coming to an end, this is a great opportunity to re-mortgage onto a better deal. Speak to a local mortgage broker to understand what you can borrow. Remember also that moving house involves costs and fees, so make sure you work out the full implications of such a move.
2. Choose an estate agent to sell your house
You can sell your home yourself, use a local estate agent or an online estate agent, and there are pros and cons of each. Again, our guide should help. If you use a local estate agent, you will need to do some research into which one to choose. Look at who sells properties like yours, read review websites and ask friends and families for recommendations. You should really have a minimum of three visit your house and complete a valuation, and use the one who you feel genuinely cares about your sale. If you have time and are organized, patient and willing to work hard, then selling your home yourself can save you money. But it’s not for the fainthearted – or inexperienced.
3. Decide how much to sell your home for
One of the most agonizing decisions when selling your home is what price to put it on for, something that a good local agent should be able to help you with. Do your research and get to know the local market inside out. Be careful of simply going with the agent who suggests the highest price – you must be realistic. And remember, ultimately any property is worth what someone is prepared to pay for it.
4. Prepare your home for sale
If you “stage” your home well, you are not only more likely to sell your home faster, but you might make it more valuable too, so tidy up, and get rid of excess clutter; give it a fresh lick of light coloured paint; fix those little snagging things; keep it clean, light a fire; bake bread; put up a mirror; get rid of bad odours. For more details see our guide “Top tips to make your home more saleable”. You’ll also need to get an energy performance certificate (EPC) is a standardised document which ranks properties in terms of energy efficiency, and which homeowners need to provide to potential buyers when they sell their home.
5. Accept an offer
You’ve received an offer – hooray! The estate agent is legally required to pass all offers on to you. If you are not happy with the offer, you can either reject it outright, wait to see if a better offer comes along or tell the estate agent to try to negotiate it upwards. Once you are happy with an offer, you need to formally accept it. Remember that accepting an offer is not legally binding, and you can legally change your mind or accept a higher offer later (gazumping) right up to the point of exchange – but remember, this can be pretty distressing to the buyer.
6. Hire a solicitor or conveyancer
A solicitor or conveyancer will need to handle the legal work to transfer ownership of the property to the new owner, and also hopefully handle your next purchase. Ask for local recommendations, both from friends, family, and your estate agent (they will have lots of experience of knowing who are the good, the bad and the ugly!). See our blogs on “How much will my conveyancing cost?” and “Questions to ask to choose the right solicitor for you” to help you make the right choice. Your solicitor will handle all of the buyers’ enquiries and negotiate on any moot points on your behalf. You will have a variety of forms and questionnaires to fill out, to give the buyer all the information about the property, and about the sale.
7. Exchange contracts
When you exchange contracts with the buyer you become legally committed to selling the property – and they are legally committed to buying it from you. If you pull out after this without due reason, the buyer’s deposit will be returned to them and you may be sued. Remember that you are responsible for looking after it until the sale is completed so you should make sure you have buildings and contents insurance cover until then.
8. Move out
You can move out whenever you like, including on the day of completion (although clearly, you need somewhere to move to!). It is less stressful to move out beforehand if that is possible. At the time of completion, the property has to be in the condition agreed in the contract – including all the fixtures and fittings, and must be left in “vacant possession”, meaning you, and your possessions, have gone.
9. Complete the sale
Completion is when the property changes ownership, you accept payment, and hand over the keys. Your solicitor/conveyancer will register the transfer of ownership with the Land Registry.
10. Pay off the mortgage
The mortgage company will have given you and your conveyancing solicitor a precise redemption figure (outstanding amount) for your mortgage for the day of completion. Now the buyer has transferred the money to your conveyancing solicitor, they will pay off the mortgage for you.
11. Settle up with the conveyancing solicitor and estate agent
After completion, your conveyancing solicitor will send you an account, covering all their costs and disbursements, as well as the sale price of the house and redemption of the mortgage. If you are buying and selling at the same time, the conveyancing solicitor can settle up for both transactions at the same time, including paying stamp duty for the house you are buying.