A Step By Step Guide to Selling A House

Selling your house is a big decision that involves a series of well-considered steps and decisions to ensure a smooth and successful transaction. In this guide, we break down all of the essential stages in the house-selling process to ensure you’re well-prepared at every stage.

Selling A House

Before You Sell

Step 1 – Decide If You Should Sell

Before you even think about selling your home, there are a few things you should consider, so you can decide if now is the right time for you to sell your property. You should consider your long-term goals, financial situation, the costs of selling and the current state of the property market.

Top Tip: When deciding whether to sell, it is beneficial to list all the associated costs and compare them to the equivalent costs of staying. For example, if you are moving to gain space, it is useful to understand potential costs of moving in comparison to costs of extending.

Step 2 – Decide If You Want to Buy Another House

It might be that you have other plans rather than buying another property or that you want to take your time finding the right home for you. In some situations, renting is a good option instead of buying a new home straight away. Evaluate the pros and cons of renting versus buying a new property. 

Advantages include

  • Less pressure to find a new home
  • More flexibility in the time you take to sell your home
  • The chance to wait for your ideal property to come on the market
  • Put you in a strong position when buying your new home

Disadvantages include

  • More expense in the short term
  • A greater number of home moves
  • In the time you rent, the market may change and you may not get as good a deal on your new mortgage

Top Tip: Don’t forget that if you choose to rent whilst looking for another property, you may have to move twice in a short space of time and pay double the removal costs.

Step 3 – Work Out Your Finances

Make sure that you fully understand the financial aspects of the sale, including how much equity you have in your home and any mortgage exit fees and settlement figures. If buying another property, you will also want to determine how much you can afford to spend on a new property. To remind yourself of the mortgage application process take a look at our guide to mortgages.

Top Tip: When factoring in affordability when moving to a new property, don’t forget to include all costs of moving, such as removals, mortgage fees, removals and cost of living once you move in.

Getting Ready To Sell

Step 4 – Get Your Documents Ready

Before putting your home on the market, gather essential documents related to your property, including property deeds, insurance records, and any planning permissions. If you have replaced windows and doors, dig out the FENSA certificate and if you have had an extension make sure you can locate the planning documentation as this will be needed further down the line.

Top Tip: Your FENSA certificate provides proof that your window and door installations comply with regulations. You can find it and order a copy here.

Step 5 – Check You Have An EPC

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is required by law and needs to be renewed every 10 years. The EPC will rate your property in terms of energy efficiency and the report will make suggestions on how to improve efficiency. Find out how much an EPC will cost in our costs of selling a house article.

Top Tip: Check if you have an existing energy certificate here.

Step 6 – Choose An Estate Agent

Select an estate agent who you feel will help you to achieve your goals. A good estate agent will help you market your property, find potential buyers, and negotiate offers, but different agents have different approaches. Always make sure they know the local market and explain clearly how they will market your property. 

Top Tip: Get several agents to value your property and be mindful that the highest valuation may not necessarily be the best agent to go with. Always ask what similar properties they have recently sold in the area and for what price.

Step 7 – Complete Relevant Documentation

Your estate agent will guide you through the process of completing the relevant paperwork, including property descriptions, disclosures, and terms of sale.

Top Tip: Make sure you see proofs of the listing photographs before they are published to make sure that the best possible images are used.

Step 8 – Decide On The Listing Price

Your agent will work with you to decide on the best listing price. This should be based on the current market and comparable properties. According to Zoopla, sellers in June 2023 were accepting offers at 3.8% below asking price on average.

Top Tip: The valuation the estate agent provides is only a guide, you should discuss this together and you can also do your own market research before deciding what price to set.

Step 9 – Choose A Conveyancer

Select a conveyancer or solicitor to handle the legal aspects of the sale. Hire a conveyancer or solicitor who you are sure has the capacity to take on your sale and who will communicate effectively with you. To find out more about what to expect during the conveyancing process, have a read of our blog on the stages of the conveyancing process.

Top Tip: It is wise to get several quotes and find out about the fee structure for each company to fully understand what you will be charged for upfront and if there will likely be any additional costs.

Step 10 – Prepare Your Home For Sale

While some sellers opt for professional staging, you can do some key things yourself to enhance your property’s appeal. Think about decluttering, making repairs, and set the scene to present your property in the best possible light.

Top Tip: Rugs, cushions, throws, and candles are all inexpensive ways to make a room feel more homely. A well-presented property can often achieve a quicker sale.

Step 11 – Arrange Viewings

Your estate agent will arrange property viewings with potential buyers and work with you to schedule convenient viewing times. It is important to be as flexible as possible and make your home presentable for each visit. Sometimes, especially if there is a lot of interest, the estate agent will arrange block viewings, where several potential buyers view your property during one visit. 

Top Tip: If you are taking viewing yourself, be prepared to answer questions from potential buyers. View a list of potential questions here.

Step 12 – Accept An Offer

Once you receive an offer, you may be happy with it or may need to negotiate with the buyer. Be certain about what you are prepared to accept, whilst understanding that you may need to be more flexible if there is not a lot of interest in the property.

Top Tip: Remember, the sale of your property is a business transaction, so make sure you consider all reasonable offers before making a decision.

The Conveyancing Process

Step 13 – Negotiate The Contract

At this point, you will need to work with your conveyancer to negotiate the contract, including any conditions and deadlines, what fixtures and fittings will be included in the sale and any price adjustments or proposals resulting from the survey report. Once both parties are satisfied, you will be ready to exchange contracts.

Top Tip: Make sure you communicate well with your conveyancer and estate agent so any issues raised can be resolved as quickly as possible so you can achieve a quicker sale.

Step 14 – Exchange Contracts

Once contracts are exchanged the sale is legally binding you are now committed to the sale. Legal action can be taken if you pull out. Once contracts are exchanged you can agree a date for completion with the buyer.

Top Tip: Always ensure your house insurance is still active during this time as the property is still your responsibility until completion.

Completing The Sale

Step 15 – Complete & Leave The Property

On the agreed completion date, your solicitor will do the final conveyancing work and complete the transaction. You will now need to take the keys to your estate agent for the buyer to pick up.

Top Tip: Only take your keys to the estate agent and lock up once you have received notification from your conveyancer that the transaction has been completed in case of any last-minute delays.

Step 16 – Move Out

Once the sale is complete, you can move out, drop the keys off with the agent for the new owners. You will be expected to leave the property in the agreed-upon condition, so if you have agreed to leave certain items, make sure they are left in the property. Be sure to take metre readings before you leave, so you are not charged for utilities you have not used. Click here for a detailed moving checklist.

Top Tip: Most people clean their home on the day of moving out, but you can break this task into more manageable steps to make things easy on yourself on moving day. Follow a cleaning checklist and think about cleaning as much as possible before moving day so there is less to do on the day itself.

Selling a house involves careful planning, documentation, and negotiations. By following the steps we have taken you through in this blog, you can navigate the process smoothly and successfully. You may also find it useful to read through our guide to moving house for information on all aspects of moving house. 

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