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.


Process of selling

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 generally 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 buoyant in your area — any of these things can mean it’s the right time for you to sell. 

Is it financially viable for you to sell?

Most people assume that selling their house will put them in a better financial position to upgrade or give them access to cash — and usually, it will. But it’s not always that simple. If prices have gone down significantly since you purchased the property, you could be in negative equity, with your mortgage outweighing your equity in the property. You also need to look into any fees and taxes that you might face when selling. Most people will find that selling their home is the right move if they want to upgrade, downsize, or change neighbourhoods, but it’s always good to double-check. 

Deciding who you want to sell your home

Choosing the right estate agent is key, as they’ll guide you through the whole process of how to sell your house. You need to find someone who is trustworthy, someone with knowledge of your area, and someone who isn’t going to drown you in fees. Traditional estate agents often charge around 1.5%, which can add up to thousands. But sometimes, it just comes down to feeling a connection with a company and its way of doing things. Think of it like speed dating. Really, really expensive speed dating.

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. 

Preparing it for sale

It’s time to cut the cord — just a little bit. 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. We’re all looking for our own dream home, so let your buyers picture themselves living there.  

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 shop around, though — because those fees can add up in a hurry, normally falling somewhere between £850 to £1500 pounds.

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 can be tricky.  Of course, just because you have an offer doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Take a breath. It’s totally acceptable to take a few days to think about it — just let your estate agent know so they can tell the interested buyers. And remember: If they’re offering a low-ball, they’re probably expecting to have to counter with a higher offer.

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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

Pricing too low — or too high

Getting the right price is probably the biggest secret to a smooth sale — but so many sellers struggle to keep their emotions out of it. It may be your perfect 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. 

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. 

Forgetting to tidy 

A lot of times, buying a home is a bit like falling in love — there’s the “it” factor. The Beyonce effect. That je ne sais quoi that makes a home feel special. 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. Giving your home a little TLC can a big difference. Less laundry, more Beyonce. 

Not marketing thoroughly 

The processing of selling a house can feel like an uphill climb, but once you have your marketing materials ready then it’s easy for them to be spread farther and wider. It’s not just about estate agent sites anymore, it’s about RightMove, Zoopla, and the many, many other property sites out there. (Seriously — as a nation, we love to browse.) Some estate agents are even using social media to list homes. It never hurts to get creative. 

Assuming private sales are easier

If your fee-averse — who isn’t — it can be really tempting to find someone to buy your home privately — with just a handshake and a smile. But, as you've seen, there’s a lot of technical and legal work involved in a house sale. If you want to get the most money for your home and you want to feel protected every step of the way, bringing an expert in can make a big difference. 

Ignoring the market

There are plenty of tips for selling your house that can help you make the process easier, but you can’t control the market. If you’re looking to get the best price, you need to pay attention to what the market is doing. Factors like current interest rates, politics, and what’s happening in your neighbourhood can all change the market in your area.  

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 £1,000 and a new bathroom that cost £10,000. 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. 

Not making a timeline 

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. So pump the breaks. You’ll get there. 

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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. 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.