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Estate Agent Fees
Find out more about estate agents’ fees, contracts, and the service you should expect.
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The total cost of selling your house in England and Wales depends on a huge range of factors: from how much your current property is worth, to how much of the packing and transporting process you want to take on yourself.
The largest, and most important cost of selling a house comes from your estate agents and solicitors fees. But you should also make sure to budget enough for your mortgage exit fees, and your final utilities bill.
In this article we look in detail at the cost of selling a home, from preparing to put your property on the market, to moving into your new place. We'll also let you know the areas where you'll get the best value by spending a bit more (and the areas you can make savings too).
If you're looking for a breakdown of the costs of selling a home in Scotland, head here.
To give your home the best chance of selling, you may decide to invest some time and money into home improvements. These could be things as small as a deep clean, or as large as a new bathroom installation - it will all depend on the current state of your house, and your aims for the house sale.
Some basic things you might consider doing to prepare your home for sale:
Repainting tired or damaged walls
Tidying up the garden
Most of these preparations can be done very cheaply, if you have the time. Or, you might choose to work with a professional eg. a cleaner, handy man, or gardener, to help you.
There may be some associated costs too, such as storage for your things during any repairs or painting. Consider your budget and decide what's feasible for you. An estate agent - or even an honest friend - will be able to tell you the areas where your home could be improved.
However, before you decide to make any large changes to your home, such as installing a new kitchen or bathroom, consider whether you're likely to see a return on this investment in your home sale. Often you'll get the best results by making some low cost, high impact changes, rather than undertaking large renovation projects.
Read more about which renovations add the most value to a home sale here.
The key thing to remember is that buyers will get their first impression of your home through photographs online. On property portals like Zoopla, and Rightmove your property will be compared to hundreds of others at the same time. This means it's vitally important that your home looks its best.
So, while it may feel like an easy way to save money, neglecting to thoroughly prepare your home for sale could mean you have fewer viewings (and fewer opportunities to secure a buyer).
Before you put your home on the market you'll also have to get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). These are compulsory for almost all residential property sales, and cost between £35 - £85.
An EPC gives the buyer an idea of the energy efficiency (and therefore the energy costs) of your home. It'll also provide recommendations on how the energy efficiency of a property can be improved.
An Energy Performance Certificate can only be drawn up by an accredited assessor who will need to visit your home in order to perform their assessment. They'll do a non-intrusive investigation of all the major features of your home including: windows, insulation, boiler.
Arranging an EPC yourself can be significantly cheaper than getting one through your estate agent. We found that some online estate agents were charging £85 for an EPC. But, by going direct you can get an energy performance certificate from prices starting at £35, here.
Given that the resulting document is the same, this is one area where it is worth choosing the cheaper option.
It's also worth looking to see if you already have an EPC. Energy Performance Certificates are valid for 10 years, and a property has to have one before it goes on the market. So, if you bought your home less than 10 years ago, you may find that your property already has a certificate.
Pro Tip: If you've made any energy efficiency improvements to your home (like installing insulation, or a new boiler), your EPC rating may have improved since you moved in. Higher ratings can be more appealing to buyers because it suggests their energy costs will be lower. So, it may be worth getting a new certificate before you sell.
EPCs are valid for 10 years, and you can use the one purchased by the previous owner.
So, you may have an EPC and not know it!
Your estate agent fees will probably be the largest, but also the most important cost of selling your home. An effective estate agent will be your marketer, security, and negotiator. They'll develop an advertising strategy for your home, vet and accompany potential buyers around your property, and then negotiate the best sale price for you.
Pay now vs. Pay for performance
There are two main types of estate agent fee: a fixed 'pay now' fee, and a commission-based 'pay on completion' fee.
Pay on completion fee
'Pay on completion' or 'commission' fees are the most common type of estate agent fee, and are the go-to for most high street estate agents. This payment model means that you pay the estate agent only after your sale has completed, you've been paid by the buyer, and officially handed over the keys.
These fees are generally an agreed percentage of the price your property sells for, usually between 1 - 3%.
For example: if your home sells for £200,000 and the agreed commission is 1.5%, you will pay your estate agent £3,000.
If you've agreed to pay on completion and your estate agent is unable to sell your home - or you decide you no longer want to sell - you will not have to pay them.
Estate agent fees can also be fixed. Fixed fees are less common, and are usually only available from hybrid or online estate agents.
A fixed fee estate agent is usually paid upfront, and the fee is non-refundable if you decide to switch estate agents, or your home does not end up selling.
As a general rule, fixed fees tend to be lower than commission fee payments. Online agents for example generally cost around £800-£2,000. This is because the type of service you get from an online estate agent is different to a traditional high street estate agent.
Whereas a high street estate agent will take the lead on managing the entire sales process, online estate agents focus on online marketing, and leave the other parts (hosting viewings for example) to the seller. In some cases you can pay extra to get a service closer to that of a traditional high street estate agent.
If you decide to work with an online estate agent, watch out for additional clauses in your contract. Some online agents make it a legal requirement that you work with their preferred partners if you choose certain packages. For example Purplebricks, require you to use their preferred conveyancer if you choose the 'pay later' option. In many cases these partners pay a referral fee to the agent, which means you don't end up getting the best deal.
For more information about the difference between online and high street estate agents check out this guide.
Some fixed fee agencies also offer 'pay later' fees. These are simply a fixed fee that you pay after a set amount of time has passed, usually around 10 months.
You have to pay this type of fee by the agreed date, regardless of whether your estate agent has been successful at selling your house or not. And, you'll get the same, reduced, service that comes as standard from an online or hybrid agent.
A 'pay later' fee, is not equivalent to the commission based - pay for performance - fee model.
If you think the fee quoted by an estate agent is too high, it's usually possible to negotiate it a little. Many estate agents will consider a lower fee if they think your property might be easy to sell, for example.
Note: As a general rule, you can't negotiate an online estate agent's fee.
The important thing when negotiating your estate agent fees is to maintain a balance between cost and incentive.
If your fee is commission based, a higher percentage will incentivise an estate agent to prioritise your home sale. A lower percentage fee will make the estate agent weigh up the cost of putting their all into your home sale, versus the price of adequately covering their own costs (such as time showing people round, networking, and marketing). This could potentially make them less motivated to go the extra mile to get you the best price.
This does not mean that the estate agent charging the most is automatically the best. We'd always recommend checking out an estate agency's performance history before committing to selling your home with them. This will ensure you're getting the best agent for your money.
If you're unsure where to start with your estate agent research, we've compiled all the data you need here. Just pop in your postcode and we'll show you the best performing agents in your area.
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Conveyancing fees are perhaps the second largest cost of selling a house - but another particularly important one.
Conveyancers deal with the legal process of transferring the ownership of your house to the new owner. They negotiate your sales contract, conduct security checks on the buyer, and handle all the money as it transfers between the buyer, mortgage providers, estate agents, and you.
If anything looks like it's not going to plan, your conveyancer will also be able to provide advice on how to resolve the issue. Given the complexity and importance of the conveyancer's role, knowing you're getting a good service is vital.
Conveyancing fees can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including:
Leasehold properties have a more complex conveyancing process than freehold properties, so you'll end up paying slightly more if you're selling a leasehold.
Because of the extra work involved, solicitor fees for selling and buying at the same time will be higher than those for just selling. However, it is almost always cheaper - and more efficient - to use the same legal representative for both your sale and your purchase, rather than two different lawyers.
The value of your property can also have an impact on the cost of conveyancing. The higher the property's value, the higher cost the legal process.
Online conveyancers claim to offer a low cost and efficient alternative. However, they are quickly developing a reputation for poor communication, and slow sales progression. There are some decent online conveyancers out there, but you will need to research carefully before taking this alternative.
It's fairly common to sell a home before you've fully paid of the mortgage. If you're selling within your mortgage term, there will be some extra costs you may have to pay. These include:
This is a fee that mortgage providers charge for leaving or ending your mortgage. A mortgage exit fee can be up to £300. Not all lenders charge this fee so check with your provider directly first.
If you're still within your mortgage's 'fixed term', it's likely that you'll have to pay an early repayment charge. This can be between 1 and 5% of your loan's value. In some cases this may be due even if you're now on a standard variable rate. Make sure to check with your provider directly before you make any decisions.
Cost of porting a mortgage
In some cases, if you're selling your home to buy another, you may be able to take your mortgage with you in a process called porting. If you choose to port your mortgage you'll need to pay a mortgage arrangement fee, but you won't need to pay the early repayment charge or the exit fee. If you're on a good fixed rate, porting your mortgage can be a cost effective option.
However, if you've come to the end of your fixed term, moving house can be a good time to reevaluate your mortgage product. Before you decide whether or not to port your mortgage, take the time to compare other mortgage deals because you may find that something cheaper is now available.
Read more about porting your mortgage here.
The average cost of actually transporting your things from one place to another can vary massively. You might decide to use a removal firm who will help you pack your belongings and transport them on your behalf. Or you might decide to pack and transport everything yourself.
Removals is an area where you can really save money - but if you decide to take a budget approach, it'll take a lot of work.
Removal costs will be determined by:
How far are you moving? - Is your new property in the same neighbourhood, or are you moving across the country?
How much are you moving? - Can it all fit in the boot of a car, or will you need a full removal van?
How much help do you need? - How much help will you need with packing?
How accessible is your home? - How easy is it to park at either end? Are there lots of stairs?
How valuable are the things you want to take with you? - Your home insurance might cover transporting your things to your new home, but it may not. Be sure to check first. Removal companies also often offer insurance, but look closely at the terms and the amount you'll be able to claim. Some firms, for example, won't insure the contents of boxes you've packed yourself.
If you're selling a property that isn't your main residence (for example it's a buy to let, or a holiday home) you'll have to factor in the cost of Capital Gains Tax.
If you're missing any important documents - such as double glazing installation certificates (FENSA), or your title deeds - you might need to take out indemnity insurance.
There is no strict rule about whether the buyer or seller should cover the costs of this insurance. However it can often be in the seller's best interest to cover the cost.
When it comes time to inform your utilities companies that you're moving, you'll also have to cover the costs of the final bill. If you've been paying an estimated rate until now this may be significantly more expensive than you predict (or you might get a nice surprise in the form of a rebate). Make sure you've got a contingency budget to cover any unexpectedly large costs like this.
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