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Our simple guide to selling your home

What to consider to reduce the stress and expense of moving

For most of us our home is our single biggest asset, so when it comes to selling up and moving on, it’s really important to maximise its value. So, we’ve written this step by step guide to arm you with top tips to help remove unnecessary stress and expense.

1. Getting a realistic evaluation

First things first – how much is your home worth? A home is very personal, so it’s understandable to have rose tinted spectacles on when it comes to the valuation. Try to be objective to find the right guide price.

You should already be familiar with the local area, so take a tour around the neighbourhood and make a list of estate agents selling similar types of property to yours. They will be more up-to-date with what buyers are looking for and crucially, what they are prepared to pay for a home like yours. Property websites with search tools such as rightmove can help with this too.

It’s also worth checking how much similar local properties have sold for recently. Websites such as zoopla and nethouseprices are ideal for this – all you need to do is type in your postcode.

Ask a selection of local estate agents to value your property. Be sure to ask each of them for two prices – what they would place your home on the market for, and what they think you could realistically achieve. These won’t necessarily be the same figure, so use the lower figure to calculate your budget.

2. Creating your budget

Now you’ve started to consider the budget we have created a simple budget plan to capture the key costs associated with selling your home.

As you run through each of the steps in this guide you should be able to construct a realistic budget.

Budget example - shows exmaple costs for moving house

3. Choosing your estate agent

You can use the valuation process to get a good feel for each estate agent. Ask for information on their experience in selling similar types of property, evidence of their local area knowledge and how much effort they are prepared to make in marketing your home.

You will also need to be clear on their fees. How much will they take as a percentage of the sale price as payment? Is this based on the asking price or the achieved sale price? The national average is 1.8 per cent, but this can vary between 1.5 per cent and four per cent depending on whether you instruct one or more estate agents. If you do this however, bear in mind each agent may charge a premium as they have effectively reduced their chances of selling your property.

Using your estimated sale price, calculate your estate agency costs and use this figure in your budget.

Once you’ve decided on an agency you’ll sign a contract with them. Make sure you understand the terms fully, as it outlines your responsibilities as well as those of the agent. Or you could choose not to use an agent at all.

Solving disputes with your estate agent

Your estate agent will belong to one of two schemes to help resolve complaints. The Property Ombudsman or Ombudsman Services.

Make sure you know which scheme your chosen agent subscribes to. And before you register a complaint, you will need to give your agent an opportunity to resolve the issue first.

4. Getting your paper work in order

When you’re ready to put your home up for sale, make sure you have the right paperwork to hand. Either your own or your purchaser’s solicitor will require some information from you.

 Here are some of the key documents you will need:

  • planning permissions, plans and accompanying documents
  • building regulation approvals and completion certificates
  • FENSA certificate for glazing
  • Appropriate gas safety inspection certificate or the service history of the boiler and other gas appliances/Gas Safe Certificate
  • Part P Certificate for any electrical improvements
  • Any other guarantees, together with contracts, quotations and plans. This is particularly useful for insulation or damp proofing
  • Indemnity insurance policies in place when you bought the property
  • Details of your existing mortgage and other loans against the property, such as your account number(s) and approximate outstanding balance(s)

You will need to obtain an Energy Performance Certificate or EPC. These were introduced in 2007 to give potential buyers a guide to the energy efficiency of a property, so they can see what could be improved and how much money could be saved by improving the rating.

It is a legal requirement to have an EPC in place before you market your property. Your estate agent will be able to help you source one or you can use the Government’s list of accredited assessors.

It’s also worth thinking now about what you’re going to include in the sale of your home. Legally you are not obliged to leave any fixtures or fittings in your home, but the onus is on you to specify what you will be taking with you.

Anything from curtains to freestanding cookers and outbuildings could become confused in a sale, so carry out a full inventory and give a copy of this to your estate agent – particularly if they will be conducting viewings on your behalf.

5. Preparing your home for viewings

Now your home is on the market you need to make sure it looks its best. Spending money on improvements and repairs may feel like the last thing you want to do if you’re moving – but even small changes could mean you’ll sell your home faster and at a better price. Before you start, allocate a budget to any improvements you need to make and stick to it.

First impressions count, so start off by maximising your home’s ‘kerb appeal’. Take a critical look at the exterior of your property – particularly from the front. A bit of weeding or even cutting the lawn can make a big difference. To go a step further you could freshen up your borders with some shrubs or add a hanging basket or two. Crucially, ensure windows and doors are clean, with a fresh coat of paint if needed.

Now it’s time to move inside, remove the clutter and ‘depersonalise’ your home, as difficult as this may be. The aim is to enable potential purchasers to imagine themselves living in your home. This is easier if they can visualise their own furniture and possessions rather than your stacks of CDs, ornaments or the recycling pile.

Buyers are likely to be far more critical and eagle eyed than anyone else so make sure you leave no stone unturned.

Tips for preparing your home for sale

  • Check all light bulbs are working
  • Fix dripping taps
  • Fix dodgy kitchen drawers
  • Repair wall/paintwork cracks
  • Touch-up or repaint rooms altogether if needed – in a neutral colour
  • Put in fresh towels, curtains, cushions and bedspreads if needed – all these can be taken with you when you move
  • Give your home a good airing to remove any lingering odours
  • Put some extra light into your house with the odd lamp or even give the tree outside a good prune if it’s casting a shadow
  • Make sure you accentuate any features such as fireplaces or add mirrors to increase the feeling of space
  • Dress with plants or fresh flowers to create pleasant and inviting fragrances and sights

Your home should now be ready for viewing by potential purchasers. But as a final check, it’s worth inviting a friend round to give you any final pointers.

You should discuss with your agent who will conduct viewings. Your agent will know the art of showing a potential purchaser around, so this could be a good option. Some agents even hold open days inviting a selection of potential buyers around your home at once. This is a great way to stimulate competition amongst potential bidders.

Make sure you explore all the options with your estate agent. You are paying for their service so it’s important you are 100 per cent comfortable with the approach.

6. Accepting an offer

Once an offer has been made, your estate agent will get in touch. They are legally obliged to let you know about every offer they receive, regardless of whether they think you will accept it.

Once you’ve moved through any negotiations and are happy the offer represents a fair price, you can accept it subject to a satisfactory survey and contract. Make sure your budget sheet is updated with the final sale price.

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to appoint a solicitor or conveyancer to do the legal work required as part of the sale. Taking a recommendation from friends or family is worthwhile, particularly if they have been impressed with the quality of service.

Once you’ve agreed the fees, make sure budget sheet is updated

You can expect to pay several hundreds of pounds in solicitor’s costs, plus a few hundred pounds in related search fees. Once you’ve agreed the fees, make sure your budget sheet is updated.

Your estate agent will then write to your purchaser, both sets of solicitors and yourself to confirm the property sale. At this point they will request a draft contract to be prepared between the solicitors.

7. Surveyors and final negotiations

Soon after the offer has been accepted, your estate agent will let you know what type of survey your buyer has commissioned. A basic Condition Report is the cheapest option and will highlight any urgent defects requiring attention.

A Homebuyer Report details the condition of the property, offers a market valuation and guidance to legal advisors. It also highlights any defects, offering advice on repairs, ongoing maintenance and their effect on value.

A more detailed structural survey, also known as a Building Survey, is essential for larger or older properties, or if major works are planned. This is the most comprehensive and therefore expensive type of report. It gives the buyer an in-depth analysis of the property’s condition, including advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options.

This survey is carried out at your purchaser’s expense and is used to ensure the agreed price offers them fair value when considering the condition of your home. If the survey reveals significant work is required, the purchaser may ask to renegotiate the agreed sale price. It’s important to be realistic – it may be fair to reduce the price although it may be worth obtaining your own quotes for any required work.

Either party is within its rights to pull out of the sale if an agreement can’t be reached, although you may not recover many of your costs should you need to restart the process with a new buyer.

8. Contract exchange and preparing to move

Exchange of contracts is the point when all parties become legally committed to the sale. You need to sign the contract and your solicitor will do the rest.

Your buyer should pay a deposit, typically at least 10 per cent of the sale price, which will be held by your solicitor. At this point you’ll also agree a ‘completion date’ – the date and time by which you will need to vacate your property.

Now is the time to finalise how you intend to move your belongings from the property. This can be expensive, so it’s worthwhile planning this in advance. Obtain quotes from several companies, or get a quick estimate from the British Association of Removers. Remember to update your budget sheet too.

Top tips for moving out

  1. Try to plan your move well in advance with your chosen removal firm
  2. Consider whether you’re packing or your removal firm is – they are professionals and will do it quickly and easily – but you will be charged for this service
  3. Make sure you consider the insurance implications for your belongings in transit. Reputable firms will be able to arrange this for you
  4. Avoid moving on busy days such as Fridays or bank holidays – they’ll be charged at a premium
  5. If you’re going to move yourself, consider how much time and money you’ll need for van hire and fuel etc. It may not be as cheap as you think and could be considerably harder work!
  6. Notify utility and service providers with your intended moving date and consider redirecting your mail.

9. Completion

Your solicitor will contact you once the sale has gone through. Take some final metre readings just before you leave. You can then drop the keys around to your estate agent.

Make sure you review your budget against actual expenses coming through in the days and weeks following your move. This safeguards against mistakes creeping in and will give you peace of mind.

10. Congratulations!

You have successfully sold your home!

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