Selling your home

17 September 2008
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Selling your property is a big move and you don't need unnecessary stress. Make the best start by understanding what's involved with our essential guide.

What's It Worth?

You should do the following to make sure you have an accurate idea of what you could sell your property for:

  • Get at least three estate agents to come and do a 'no obligation' valuation.
  • Research the market for similar properties in your own area, either through agent windows, local property supplements or property websites.
  • Now research actual prices fetched by such properties. Ask around and chat to as many people as possible to get a good feel of what you should expect.
  • In todays market dont be over optimistic.

Up for sale!

Don't get hung up on timing. If you need to sell, you need to sell. Most people favour spring and summer because of their better weather and longer daylight hours, but people are still buying properties all year round. Make sure you keep abreast of property news including speculation about mortgage rates, but remember you can only make an educated guess.

Estate agents are the traditional way to sell houses. Many of us have strong reservations about their practices but most properties are sold through agents. They charge a commission fee, payable after sale, but you may also pay for extra advertising. In return they save you time and stress by, among other things, actively promoting your property, having the hassle of dealing with would-be buyers, and acting as a go-between during possibly tense negotiations.

To choose an agent, don't just pick the one offering the highest valuation, because there's no guarantee they will get that price.

  • Compare fees.
  • Ask what they are offering.
  • Check testimonials and talk to people who used this agency before you
  • Check the agency agreement - it may try to tie you to the agency for too long a period. If you want to change agents in this time you will still be legally bound to pay their fee.
  • Multiple listings - using more than one agent may mean you are also liable to pay more than one fee, so check the contract fine print again.

Once you have an agent stay in regular contact, be firm about progress reports and make sure they are getting prospective buyers in.

Private sales

In these, you avoid paying commission because you are doing all the work, including advertising and dealing with would-be buyers directly. You can advertise in local newspaper or use the internet.


You could use any of a number of specialist websites selling property for a one off fee, often under £100 compared to thousands in agent commission. This is basically private selling with more information and tips, and the important target audience. At the end of the day you are probably paying for the signage in your garden !

Legal Work

You need to appoint a solicitor to deal with the sale. have a panel of solicitors from which you might like to choose . Ring around and get accurate quotes. Ask the solicitor for the precise amount of his final bill, including vat and any other costs.

Clearly if you are buying another property, you will want your quotation to include the costs of purchase also.

Your solicitor plays an important role in both the selling and purchasing of property and your choice should not be based on price alone. You are looking for somebody who will act on your behalf in a very important series of transactions.

At we are happy to recommend solicitors with whom we have dealt with over the years.

Showing Your Home

  • If you are contemplating selling your property it helps to get your property in order for sale over time.
  • Keeping the house well maintained and painted is easy to spot and hard to cover up if it has not been attended to on a regular basis
  • Make a list of the chores to be attended to and place it on the fridge door and tick the tasks off as they are completed
  • Clutter is a great turn off!. As well as having to sort and throw out, consider putting some stuff and large furniture into paid storage until a sale is achieved.
  • If using an estate agent, ask them for a brutally honest appraisal of what to get rid of or change, and whether there are any major flaws. You might be able to improve some easily.
  • Don't spend lots of money on fancy decoration schemes which new owners may well want to change.
  • Do spend money on basic repairs, ensuring your home is in good working order.
  • Tidy up outside and aim to make the entry as attractive as possible - a new coat of paint for the front door if necessary, some instant 'potted colour' from the garden centre and so on.
  • Make sure it is Clean!

House Viewings

  • Your agent should be present - it's generally good for you to be available, but your presence could hinder rather than help if you are not careful. If in doubt, check with your agent.
  • If you are present, be relaxed and positive about your property, have information ready, such as utility bills, guarantees and notes about maintenance work, let visitors look for themselves and give them a chance to absorb it all.
  • Don't be oversensitive - it's normal for buyers to point out 'faults', especially if they are trying to disguise how keen they are prior to making an offer.
  • If you have dogs or other pets arrange for them to be out.
  • To disguise odours, use something fresh and natural like a few drops of grapefruit essential oil in hot water instead of overpowering sprays.
  • Before buyers leave have a relaxed chat to discreetly find out about them and their circumstances.

So you've put the house on the market, had the viewings and sorted the legalities, so what's next...

Offers and Negotiation

It is helpful not to get emotionally involved in the sale. After all this is business and your objective is to achieve the best price possible for your home.

  • If you have employed an estate agent this is where he earns his crust.
  • Always give yourself time before deciding on an offer.
  • It is easier to sell if there are a number of interested parties so be slow to reject offers outright.
  • Be straight with purchasers and insist that your estate agent acts fairly to interested parties.
  • Don't stop promoting the property once an offer is received.
  • Check to see if the purchaser has sold their own property.
  • Whilst you will need to move quickly, It can be disastrous for you if to wait to consider other offers. Don't forget there are plenty of houses on the market.

Who is the buyer

Get as much information as you can about the buyers' situation so you know the relative strengths of yours and their position e.g. do they need you commit to purchase on one hand and your own sale falls through on the other hand.

  • Have they got mortgage approval.
  • Is their house sold .Has a contract being signed for the sale of their house.
  • Is their closing date compatible with your requirements.
  • If you are paying for an agent, use them to deal with the buyers.

Exchange and Completion

After a successful offer, the next major step is exchanging legal contracts, after which neither side can pull out (without losing a lot of money). Before exchange, solicitors will do their checks, including which fixtures and fittings you are including in the sale. Don't forget to:

  • Contact your mortgage lender as the loan is ending.
  • Notify utilities and arrange final readings.
  • Arrange mail redirection.
  • Book a removal service.

Completion day means handing over the keys - but remember that it's not until your solicitor has confirmed that your money has finally been transferred that you pass over all keys.