Selling a property can be a daunting task, especially if it is the first time that you have experienced the process. There is so much to consider and if you are buying another property at the same time, the logistics can be quite daunting. In this article we will take a look at the general home selling process and give some hints and tips on how to make the process easier and give you some advice on what to expect.
Before you even start looking to put your property on the market, scour the local market for properties similar to yours already on the market to see what they are selling for. This will help you understand what your home would potentially sell for and give you a head start before you start talking to an estate agent.
You will want your property to stand out from the crowd. Remember that many potential buyers will carry out a drive past before asking for a viewing, so get your kerb appeal sorted. You want your home to look its best from the outside so when any potential buyer does drive past, they fall in love straight away. The same goes for the internals. Kerb appeal gets a potential buyer in, but if there are loads of maintenance tasks to do, if your home is untidy or too cluttered, this might then put potential buyers off. You don’t want a sterile home, but you do want it to look uncluttered and neutral so that the viewer can readily see themselves living there.
Do your research on the local estate agents. What sort of properties do they sell? What have they sold recently? How do they market properties? What are their charges? How will they support you? Getting the right agent is key in terms of selling your property as quickly as possible and for the right price. Once you have narrowed your choice, book valuation appointments with 2 or 3 and have a good chat with them so you have a direct comparison of their valuations and service levels. Do not be tempted to simply opt for the cheapest or the one who suggests the highest valuation as this can be a false economy. The cheapest might not give you the right level of service or have the resource to sell your property quickly. The highest valuation might well price you out of a good sized demographic (see below). Once you have instructed your estate agent, they will put your property on the market and start organising viewings.
Perhaps the first key strategic decision to make is what valuation to accept. Your estate agent will know the market but they also want your business. There is no right or wrong answer, but here are some considerations:
- Low valuations can be good as they might attract more interest, as such your home could sell more quickly. Be wary, though, as people will still want to haggle, driving the price down further. Also, a low starting price might put people off as they might worry about “what is wrong with the place”
- High valuations can be good as they allow a buffer for the haggling meaning you still get the price you actually want. Also, a high valuation maximises profit. The areas to be careful here are that a high valuation might take the price out of the range of a sizeable market, for example first time buyers. The higher valuation might also put your home into a different stamp duty bracket making it more expensive to buy and finally, it might simply look too expensive for the area which will put people off.
The trick is to decide what you are willing to accept, based on what the market looks like and decide a strategy around that. Your agent will help you with this.
Eventually someone will place an offer on your home. Prepare yourself for some low offers to come through. Your estate agent is legally required to pass on every offer they receive. Remember that the buyer will want to get the property as cheaply as possible and you will want to maximise your return so some negotiating will be needed. Your estate agent can help with this and advise you. Any offer is not a personal insult, it is just a buyer playing the game as it were. This is ultimately a business transaction. When deciding which offer to accept, don’t just look at the offer itself. Look at the buyer: Do they have an agreement in principle from a lender? Can they afford the property? Are they in a large chain? You might find that someone who hasn’t got their finances in place, might not get a mortgage. Someone in a long chain has a higher likelihood of the chain collapsing. These are all considerations for you.
Once you have formally accepted an offer (or before if you want the sale to proceed quickly) it is time to get your conveyancer involved to actually sell your home. For that you will need the right documentation and a conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor.
Getting all your documents together will help everything go smoothly. Here is a list of what you will need:
- Proof of identity
- EPC certificate
- Property title deeds
- Leasehold information (if the property is leasehold) including management information pack
- Fittings and contents form
- Property details form – TA10
- Property information form – TA6
- FENSA certificates for any newly installed windows
- New build warranty information for properties within the 10 year new build warranty
- Planning permission forms for any extensions
- Building regulation certificates for any electrical alterations
- Mortgage details
It is important to note that, in the property information form there are questions around disputes, planning permission breaches, flooding, Radon and Japanese Knotweed. When selling you have to be 100% honest even if the information paints things in a bad light. There can be legal repercussions if you, as a seller, do not inform the potential buyer of any material issues which could affect their enjoyment of the property.
You will need a conveyancing solicitor or a conveyancer to sort the legal aspects of the sale. We will simply call the legal professional the conveyancer for the sake of simplicity. As with your estate agent, choose your conveyancer wisely. There is a range of prices for conveyancers and you will need to choose the one that is best for you. Online conveyancers tend to be cheaper, but they also tend to have a larger case load so will you get the right level of service? Conveyancers at local solicitors tend to be more expensive but would be better suited to deal with a more complex sale.
Your conveyancer will draw up the contract and supply the potential buyer’s solicitor with all your documentation. They will answer any queries from the buyer’s solicitor and also check that all the finances are in place. Be prepared to answer lots of questions and make sure you keep yourself available to answer them quickly. A buyer is likely to get frustrated if you delay the process by being slow to respond. Be patient during this process as there might be a lot of toing and froing, it can be frustrating, but it is part of the process. Once all the legal wrangling has finished the conveyancers will agree a date for exchange of contracts and completion. Remember that once the contract is exchanged the sale is legally binding and neither party can pull out without financial penalty. All the finances will then get sorted and upon completion all monies will be exchanged and keys will be released. It is important to note that you will need to have vacated the premises by the time completion happens because, upon completion, the property belongs to your buyer.
A typical sale can take anything up to 4 months to complete and during that time there will be lots of frustrations and stresses but hopefully, by understanding the process, you will be as prepared as you can be and it will help the process to run much more smoothly.
Nicholas Humphreys are a national Estate Agents. We take pride in being a people business and as such we recruit motivated and enthusiastic people with a passion for working in the property industry if you need help and advice about selling your home, get in touch with our property passionate people who will help get your home in front of the right potential buyers.