First time sellers: A beginner’s guide

by Housesimple on 14th July 2015

Selling your house can seem like a daunting process. You need to make sure that the time and effort you put in when choosing the right property - and maintaining and investing in it while under your ownership – does not go to waste.


The important thing to remember is that it’s not simply about selling your property – but selling it well and ensuring you get the best possible return.


Here’s our guide to selling:


*Firstly it’s important to be doubly sure that selling is the right option. If you’re struggling financially there might be a way to renegotiate your deal – while the need for extra space could perhaps be fulfilled by an extension. Some people also prefer to rent out their old house if they’re moving to be nearer work or relatives. Selling might well be the right option – but don’t do it in haste.


*Get your finances in order. Use the opportunity for an audit of incomings and outgoings and assess exactly how much you have to pay on your existing mortgage.


*If you’re not in a rush to leave, then choose your moment wisely. It’s traditionally harder to sell a property in the middle of the summer – when people are on holiday – or in the middle of the winter when it’s gloomy and the focus is on Christmas.


*Some people choose to sell one home and buy another at the same time. Often circumstances dictate that this must happen but it’s important to remember that this is by no means a must. You can sell first – putting you in a stronger bargaining position when it comes to buying – and find an interim property to rent out. You can also choose to buy your intended property first – and then turn your intentions to selling. This might leave you feeling under pressure to sell, reliant on a ‘bridging loan’ and finding it harder to get a mortgage – but shouldn’t be ruled out completely.


*Once you’ve decided to sell, it’s time to get your home ready to wow would-be buyers. Remove clutter and quirky personal decorations and, if necessary, consider a neutral lick of paint or furnishings. You want the buyer to envisage putting their own stamp on the place – make it easy for that to happen. Look at photos of other homes for sale and take note of what they do well and what they do badly.


*Your home needs to be tidy and any odd jobs must be fixed. Keep on top of these things and always be ‘inspection ready’. Take photos – and plenty of them – when your home is looking at its best.


*Research the market thoroughly. Make yourself aware of the sorts of prices houses are selling for in your area.


*Get an Energy Performance Certificate from a domestic energy assessor.


*Decide who you will enlist to sell your property. Of course, this can be handled privately on your own if you choose but – as a first timer – it’s probably worth enlisting the help of an estate agent. Traditionally this has involved a high street operator but these days, sellers are able to go online for a quicker and cheaper option. Take a look at what each service offers – and the cost involved – to weigh up your choice.


*Work with your estate agent to set a price that you are comfortable with. Yes, you want to make as much money as you can – and ideally sell for more than you bought the property – but you’ll struggle to sell if you aim too high. Remember that people will want to negotiate a discount – you probably did when buying the house – so factor in a ‘lowest price’ that you’d be prepared to agree on, probably 5 or 10 per cent lower than what you put it on the market for.


*When you get an offer, take your time, discuss it thoroughly and make sure it’s right for you. Don’t make any snap decisions. Accepting an offer isn’t a legally binding thing – you must then follow through with the paperwork.


*Enlist a conveyancer to handle the legal work required to formally handle the sale, getting a couple of different quotes for the task. These people don’t have to be local since you can contact them via email or phone anyway – focus instead on getting a good deal.


*As part of the paperwork – which your conveyancer will help with – you’ll need to negotiate a completion date, assess whether any fixtures or fittings will be sold alongside the house and exchange contracts. You’ll need to get organised and find all of the relevant paperwork you have for your house. Be prepared.


*Once all the paperwork is complete, it’s over to you to complete the sale, transfer the deeds and keys and arrange for the ownership to be lodged with the Land Registry before settling up with your conveyancer.

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