A guide to selling your house

We get it — sometimes the hardest part of selling your home is knowing where to start. In this guide, we’ll break down the step by step process of selling your home, from the best time to sell your house to how to get the best price for your home.

STEP BY STEP

Process of selling

1. Where are you going to live next?

You haven’t put your home up for sale yet — so why are you worrying about where you’re going to live next? Well, it’s important to think logically, because it’s way too easy to put the cart before the horse. 

Most people will be looking at selling their home in order to buy another one. This requires a little planning. Before you decide to sell, you may want to see if you can “port” your mortgage, which is just a fancy way of saying bring it with you to the next property. If you think you’re going to want a whole new mortgage, you’ll want to get a mortgage in principle agreed before you start looking  — this means you’ll know what your budget is and that you can actually secure a loan. 

Speaking of looking, this is tricky territory. Most of us spend far too many hours on Rightmove and Zoopla browsing properties (we know we do). It’s really easy to fall in love with your dream house — it’s there, it’s perfect, and it’s probably way out of budget. Suddenly, you might be tempted to rush the sale of your current home. But if you want to get the best price, it’s important to listen to your head and put yourself in the strongest position to sell. 

Remember to balance your head and your heart when thinking about your next home.


2. Is it a good time to sell?

Everyone wants to find the best time to sell their home, but there are a lot of different factors at play. There are some general rules people tend to follow — spring is usually the most popular time for a market boom, while winter is usually quieter. But it’s about you, too. If you have some money to invest, if your family is expanding and your home is bursting at the seams, or if the market is particularly strong in your area — any of these things can mean it’s the right time for you to sell. 


3. Is it financially viable for you to sell?

Most people think that selling their home is a great way to make money or upgrade to something bigger — and, in a lot of cases, it can be. But there are also a lot of costs, some more hidden than others, can determine whether it’s financially viable to sell. 

Estate agent fees are the most obvious — and paying on commission can be tricky. You can end up handing over thousands and thousands of pounds — money you could be putting toward your next home. At Housesimple we do things different, for free in fact. Find out how.

But there are also other costs to consider  — like conveyancing fees and moving costs. Oh, and you may be liable for a hefty tax bill on your sale if it’s a second home or an investment property. Plus if you are buying a property to move into there’s likely to be some stamp duty to pay. You can read our detailed guide to the cost of selling your home here.


4. Selecting the right estate agent

Choosing the right estate agent is key, as their job is to guide you through the whole process of selling your house. You need to find someone you trust, someone with knowledge of your area, and someone who isn’t going to cost you a fortune.

And it’s not always obvious. Not all estate agents charge the same fees or even calculate fees in the same way, so you need to make sure that you’re getting the whole picture in order to avoid any nasty surprises. Some online agents will charge you upfront, regardless of whether they end up selling your home or not. In many cases, traditional estate agents charge around 1.5% of the total house price — which can add up to thousands. We don’t think it has to be that way, which is why we offer a fully-managed service for free. 

But it’s also important to look beyond fees. For most of us, our home is the most important asset we have — both financially and, often, emotionally. That’s why we believe trust and transparency should be at the heart of every relationship. For you, it might just come down to feeling a connection with a company and its way of doing things. Make sure you feel comfortable with the estate agent you choose.

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5. Settling on a price to sell it for

It’s all about price. Almost everyone wants that tricky balance of getting the best price and a quick sale, but you have to be realistic. Checking out what homes have been selling for in your area — not just the list price, what they actually sell for — can give you a good sense. You can also use online valuation calculators to help get an idea of how much your home is worth. But if you want to get it just right, an in-home valuation by a property expert is the most accurate way of finding a price.


6. Going on the market

It’s time to put your home out there into the world. It can be a little nerve-wracking — so if you have sweaty palms, you’re not alone. In fact, it feels a little like a first date. 

You want your home to look its best. This might mean doing some DIY or even having some work done. It’s also about keeping it looking neat and tidy for any viewings — that means no odd socks on the radiator. You don’t need to scrub all traces of yourself — it should still feel like a home, after all — but make sure buyers can see the potential. 

One of the easiest ways to show your home at its best is clearing up the clutter. You don’t want buyers to think that there’s isn’t enough storage space and you don’t want them to feel distracted. We’re all looking for our own dream home, so let your buyers picture themselves living there.  

When it comes to viewings, we think that you’re the best person to show off your home. You know its best features, you know what makes it special. From offering a recommendation to a local curry house to showing off that secret reading nook, you can give that personal touch. For those of you who’d prefer not to conduct viewings, we also offer an optional hosted viewing service, perfect if you’re busy or don’t live at the property.


7. Hiring a solicitor/conveyancer

Feel a little dizzy looking at all of the legal jargon of buying and selling? You’re not alone. It’s complicated. Hiring a solicitor or a conveyancer (which is just a fancy word for lawyers who deal with buying and selling properties) will help make the process run smoothly. Make sure to keep this in mind when setting your budget — because those fees can add up in a hurry, normally falling somewhere between £850 to £1500. We like to keep things simple, so we offer a fixed price of £795 + VAT. 


8. Accepting an offer

You did it — the offers have finally started to come in! Phew. It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for, but knowing when to accept when can be tough.  Of course, just because you have an offer doesn’t mean you have to accept it. 

When you do get an offer, it’s totally acceptable to take a few days to think about it and leave your estate agent to update the interested buyers. And remember: If they’re offering a low-ball, they’re probably expecting to have to come back with a higher offer. 

This is when a good estate agent really shines. We have a whole team of experts dedicated to negotiation, to make sure you’re getting the best possible price. They’ll keep you advised and informed, every step of the way.


9. Progressing The Sale

The offer has been accepted — now it’s time for the contract. Progressing the sale can be smooth sailing or a little more prickly, depending on a lot of factors. The conveyancing process can have a lot of moving parts, from surveying and searches to contracts and special requests. After the buyers have a surveyor look at the property, they may have queries. You may want to have buyers put in a little more money for furniture or white goods you want to leave behind. It’s also when chains can fall through, if you or your buyers are reliant on other sales. 

Sound confusing? Don’t worry — you’ve got a team. The right estate agent will keep you informed and keep the sale moving along, so you can relax. Every sale is different — and a good estate agent and conveyancer can be worth their weight in gold.


10. Exchanging contracts

It’s really happening. Up until now, the process has been more of a handshake agreement. After you exchange contracts, you’re both legally obliged to fulfil the sale of the property. As part of the exchange, the buyer will transfer a percentage of the purchase price — normally 10% — that they can lose if they back out of the arrangement. As a seller, you can also be liable to return the deposit (plus interest) and for any fees incurred by the buyers in the process thus far. In other words, things just got serious. 

The time between the exchange of contracts and actual completion can vary — but often it’s about a week. That means when the exchange is in sight, you want to be organised about what you’re doing next. Starting to declutter your home and planning your packing in advance can save you a lot of hassle on moving day.


11. Preparing to move out

Boxes. Packing tape. Bubble wrap. So. Much. Bubble wrap. Moving out can be a messy business, but you have a few options. You can hire a van and DIY the whole move or you can pack up yourself and hire professionals to do the actual moving of boxes.  Or — if you really want to lay back and put your feet up — you can go for the full-service option. where they pack everything up, move it, and unpack it on the other side. Now that’s the life. 

It’s good to leave yourself a few days to move out before the completion date, in case anything goes wrong. And it’s always nice to leave the house clean and tidy for the new buyers — some people even leave a note and a bottle of bubbly. Cheers.


12. Completing the sale

Completing the sale is the real moment you’ve been waiting for. The buyers transfer the rest of the purchase price to their conveyancers who make sure the money gets to your conveyancer who makes sure it gets to you. At this point your buyer gets the keys to their new home. It’s happened. Pop a bottle. You just sold your home.

If you’re moving out on the same day you’re completing the sale, commonplace when in a property chain, it’s important to be organised. Keeping some tools and cleaning products handy is always useful when you get to a new place. Oh — and sure you have a box with your kettle and some tea bags at the ready, so you can make a cup of tea on the other side. Have a biscuit too, you deserve it.

You can use online valuation calculators to help get an idea of how much your home is worth. But if you want to get it just right, an in-home valuation by a property expert is the most accurate way of finding a price.

13.Negotiating a contract

The offer has been accepted — now it’s time for the contract. Negotiating a contract can be smooth sailing or a little more prickly, depending on a lot of factors. After the buyers have a surveyor look at the property, they may have queries or requests. You may want to have buyers put in a little more money for furniture or white goods you want to leave behind. You might have to negotiate the final completion and move-out date. Every sale is different — and a good conveyancer can feel worth their weight in gold. 


14. Exchanging contracts

Time to take things up a notch. Up until now, the process has been more of a handshake agreement. After you exchange contracts, you’re both legally obliged to fulfil the sale of the property. As part of the exchange, the buyer will transfer a percentage of the purchase price — normally 10% — that they can lose if they back out of the arrangement. As a seller, you can also be liable to return the deposit (plus interest) and for any fees incurred by the buyers in the process thus far. In other words, things just got serious. 


15. Moving out

Boxes. Packing tape. Bubble wrap. So. Much. Bubble wrap. Moving out can be a messy business. You may want to hire a firm to do the packing for you or, you may opt to do it yourself. Either way, make sure to shop around and get quotes for movers. It’s good to leave yourself a few days to move out before the completion date, in case anything goes wrong. And it’s always nice to leave the house clean and tidy for the new buyers — some people even leave a note and a bottle of bubbly. Cheeky. 


16. Completing the sale

Completing the sale is the real moment you’ve been waiting for. The buyers transfer the rest of the purchase price to their conveyancers who make sure the money gets to your conveyancer who makes sure it gets to you. It’s happened. Pop a bottle. Or just take a nap. You made it. 


17. Paying off the mortgage

Much like taxes, death, and Brexit extensions, mortgages are a fact of life. Depending on the terms of your mortgage, you may have to pay your mortgage off and apply for a new one, which can sometimes incur early repayment costs. In many cases. you transfer or “port” your mortgage to a new property. This is something you will have discussed with your mortgage provider before you decided to sell, but now is the time to tie up any loose ends. 


18. Estate agent fees and other costs

Finally, it’s time for any lingering fees that need to be paid. Estate agent fees are the most obvious, but there are also other costs to consider — like final bills, which can be higher than you think. Oh, and you may be liable for a hefty tax bill on your sale if it’s a second home or an investment property. Planning ahead for all of the costs of selling your house will help you avoid any nasty shocks. 

Things to avoid when selling

1. Pricing too low — or too high

Setting the right price is probably the biggest secret to a smooth sale — but so many sellers struggle to keep their emotions out of it. You may love your home, but it’s also important that your price reflects the market... and reality. Looking around can help you keep perspective and a good valuation will steer you in the right direction. A good estate agent will make sure you’re getting the maximum your home is worth, while still helping you achieve a sale that fits your timeline.


2. Keeping your home too personal

You may love having your home covered in family photos — or maybe you have a really distinct decorating style. But you’d be amazed how many buyers lack imagination and will have a lot of trouble seeing beyond your neon green study or your collection of life-size ceramic puppies. A few personal touches make a house feel like a home, but make sure there’s some room for buyers to picture themselves there. 


3. Forgetting to tidy for viewings

A lot of times, buying a home is a bit like falling in love. Well, home viewings can feel a little bit like speed dating! You only get one chance to make a good first impression and leave your potential buyers with that special feeling you get when you think you’ve met “the one”. In other words, they don’t want to see your pants hanging out to dry or a garden that hasn’t been cleaned in months. Spending a little time making your home look presentable can make a big difference.


4. Not marketing thoroughly 

Having great marketing materials is important — but it’s even more important that you’re getting them out there. The right estate agent will make sure that your listing is getting attention on Rightmove, Zoopla, and the many, many other property sites out there. (Seriously — as a nation, we love to browse.) But they’ll also have their own database of potential buyers that they can draw from to find your perfect match. Some estate agents even use social media to list homes. It never hurts to get creative.


5. Assuming private sales are easier

If you don’t like paying fees — and frankly, who does? — it can be really tempting to find someone to buy your home privately, with just a handshake and a smile. In some cases, it might work but selling privately isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. 

It can be hard to get the best price when you’re selling on your own — you probably won’t be able to access major sites like Rightmove and Zoopla to attract buyers and offers. Plus, negotiating the price yourself might feel awkward — and that can cost you thousands if you feel uncomfortable insisting on the best price. Plus, as you've seen, there’s a lot of technical and legal work involved in a house sale and plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong if you’re not an expert at these things. If you want to get the most money for your home and you want to feel protected every step of the way, bringing in the professionals will likely pay dividends.


6. Spending too much

Some people don’t do enough to get their home ready to sell — but some people can do too much. If your home desperately needs a new bathroom, then you may want to put a new one in. But a buyer probably isn’t going to see the difference between a new bathroom that costs £2,000 and a new bathroom that costs £20,000. A builder or an estate agent you trust can help you decide if it’s worth upgrading before selling — or if you’ll be spending more money than you’ll make back. Sometimes, a simple coat of neutral paint is all you need to refresh your entire home, adding thousands to its value without breaking the bank.


7. Expecting things to happen much quicker

A lot of people aren’t realistic about how long it takes to sell a house. If you’ve picked out your new dream property before you even put your home on the market, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. So instead, be realistic — the process of selling your house can take a while if you want to do it right and get the best price for your home. It’s OK to take a breath — you’ll get there. 

Other useful resources

How it works

Check out how simple it is to sell your Nottingham house with us, for free.


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Selling guides

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Online valuation

How much is your home worth? Get your free online estimate in seconds.


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Selling FAQs

Questions about selling? Our frequently asked questions might hold the answer.


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Frequently asked questions

Most people want to sell their house fairly quickly, but for some people a quick home sale is crucial. One option is selling at an auction, but you might not get the price you’re looking for — and there are often hidden fees, so you have to do your research. If you’re trying to sell your home in a hurry, then the right price point and proper marketing are the best way to get there. Agents can make it clear that you’re “a motivated seller” — which normally means open to offers — and start getting potential buyers through the door.