Sell your home – a step by step guide to selling a house
Selling your home can be a daunting prospect – especially if at the same time you’re looking to buy another property . The decisions you make along the way could save, or cost you, many thousands of pounds. Here’s a step by step guide to selling a house and what to be aware of:
Should you sell?
- The costs of moving can be a lot (particularly with stamp duty). So much so that it might even save you money to expand your existing home.
- Have you considered how changing house prices might affect your decision to sell? If prices are rising rapidly, you may not be able to afford a place much bigger than the one you are already in. Are you currently in negative equity? If so, can you afford to sell? If you’re selling as a result of a separation or divorce — as well as this Guide to Selling a House, see how we can help you move on. You might also be better off renting your home out rather than selling, depending upon your circumstances.
Figure your finances out
- Notify your mortgage lender that you’re planning to sell your home. You need to know how big your outstanding mortgage is, and if you’ll be liable for any early redemption penalties. You can then calculate how much money you’d be left with after paying the mortgage off.
- Try and get different quotes from mortgage lenders to see how much they would be willing to offer you. In the early stages, figures will only be approximate – you won’t know how much you will sell your house for. You only get a precise figure for your mortgage once you have agreed a completion date and you have exchange contracts (see below)
Should you look for somewhere to rent or buy
- This Guide to Selling a House can give you all the information, but you are still going to have to make some difficult decisions. Renting will add to the overall expense, but reduces the time pressures of buying a new home.
- It also means you won’t be rushed into buying a home that you’re not completely happy with, just because you’ve found a buyer for your home.
- This will break you out of the housing chain, which means you’d be a more attractive buyer.
Who will sell the property?
- You can sell your home yourself, use a traditional estate agent, an online estate agent, or find a cash buyer. For a local estate agent, you will need to do some research into which one to choose. Compare local estate agents based on how successful they are, how quickly they sell and how close they come to achieving your asking price.
- You’ll also need to decide whether to use a sole agent, or multiple agents. You’ll need to agree a fee with the estate agent: typically aim for 1% plus VAT for a sole agent. Online estate agents are becoming more popular. It’s sometimes worth reviewing what they can offer to you and how much it will cost.
- You can save money by axing the estate agent and selling your home yourself, if you have time and are patient, organised, and you’re willing to work hard. But it is not for the fainthearted – or inexperienced. All the more reason to read through this guide to selling a house! You can also sell your house online, or to a Cash Buyer. This can save you time, stress, and is a sure sale. Cash buyers will offer you close to the value of your house, in exchange for a fast guaranteed sale without any fees to pay.
Decide what price to sell for
- When selling your home, one of the most agonising decisions is what price to put it on for Unfortunately not even this Guide to Selling a House can tell you how much you should sell for!
- Do your research and get to know the market inside out. Get a number of estate agents to value your property, but don’t necessarily go for the highest. Remember that buyers will most likely try to negotiate a discount, so consider adding 5% to 10% to what you are prepared to accept.
Prepare your home
- “Staging” your home means you are not only more likely to sell your house fast, but you might make it more valuable too. Tidy up and keep it clean. Get rid of any excess clutter. Give it a fresh lick of light coloured paint. Fix those little snagging things. Get rid of bad odours: light a fire; bake bread; put up a mirror.
Hire a solicitor or conveyancer
- You need to choose a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal work to transfer the property ownership over to you. You should decide which firm you want to use before you agree the sale of your house – but obviously you can only instruct them after an offer is agreed.
- Get a quote from the conveyancing firm recommended by your estate agent, but also compare it to other quotes. This is because there can often a hefty referral fee added to your bill.
Fill out the relevant questionnaires
- You’ll have a several of forms and questionnaires that you’ll need to fill out to give a buyer all the information about your property, and about the sale.
Accept an offer
- The estate agent is legally required to pass all offers on to you, however ridiculous!
- If you are not happy with an offer, you have a few choices: reject it outright, wait for a better offer to come along, or tell your estate agent to try and negotiate it upwards. Once you’re happy with an offer, you’ll need to formally accept it. You can then instruct the estate agent to take your property off the market.
- Remember that even though you’ve accepted an offer this is not legally binding, and you can change your mind or even accept a higher offer later. Remember though, this can be pretty distressing to the buyer
Negotiate the draft contract
- Both you and the buyer must now decide:
- The length of time between exchange and completion. This is usually 7-28 days after the exchange of contracts.
- Any discounts offered due to any problems flagged up by the survey.
- What fixtures and fittings are to be included and how much the buyer will pay for them
- You become legally committed to selling the property once you exchange contracts with the buyer, and they are legally committed to buying it from you. Pulling out after this without good reason means the buyer’s deposit will be returned to them and you may face consequences.
- You can move out whenever you choose, you can even leave it up until the day of completion
- If possible, moving out beforehand is less stressful. At the time of completion, the property must be in the condition agreed in the contract – including any and all fixtures and fittings.
- The estate agent and buyer may come round between your moving out and completion to ensure everything is in place. Plan your move with this Moving House Checklist
Complete the sale
- Completion means the property changes ownership. You accept the payment, and hand over the keys to the buyer
- This takes place on a previously agreed date and at midday usually. On the day of completion, money is transferred and the deeds of the property are transferred between each solicitor or conveyancer.
- Your solicitor or conveyancer registers the ownership transfer with the Land Registry.
Pay off the mortgage
- Your mortgage company will have given you and your conveyancer or solicitor a precise redemption figure for the day of completion on your mortgage.
- Once the buyer has transferred the money to your solicitor or conveyancer, they pay off your mortgage.
Settle up with everyone
- Our Guide to Selling a House is almost complete! Just one final step to go:
- After completion, your solicitor/conveyancer will send you an account, covering all costs, as well as the sale price of your house and redemption of the mortgage. If you are buying and selling at the same time, the solicitor/conveyancer can settle up for both transactions, this includes paying stamp duty for the property you are buying. The solicitor/conveyancer ensures that the change of ownership is registered with the Land Registry.