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Blog
Tips for first time home sellers
Help for first time sellers
07 May 2021

Tips for first time home sellers

Rosie Hamilton
Writer & Researcher

Table of contents

  1. 1. Don’t be caught out by the costs of selling
  2. 2. Don’t choose the estate agent that offers the highest valuation
  3. 3. Brew some coffee
  4. 4. People will look in your cupboards
  5. 5. Think about your target audience
  6. 6. Find a conveyancer early
  7. 7. Establish your limits and stick to them

Just like buying a property for the first time, selling your first home can be incredibly daunting - particularly if you're juggling the process with finding a new place to live too.

Below we’ve compiled some of our top tips for first time home sellers, to help you prepare for your sale.

Don’t be caught out by the costs of selling

Deciding to sell a property is a large financial step. Your property is one of your largest financial assets, and selling it is a complex and expensive process. Knowing what to expect will help you budget effectively, and ensure you're not hit with any surprise bills.

Make sure to put aside enough to cover the following common costs:

  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

You’ll need to make sure you have an EPC before your property is placed on the market. You can choose to do this yourself, or your estate agent can help arrange it. Check here to see whether you already have an EPC. (If you bought your property less than 10 years ago, it’s likely you do.)

  • Estate agent fees

Estate agents generally charge a percentage fee, usually around between 1.5 & 3% of the selling price of your property. You'll pay this once your property sale officially completes.

  • Solicitor or conveyancer fees

These fees can vary widely depending on the work involved, the value of your property, and whether you're buying as well as selling. We'd recommend getting quotes from at least three firms. Ask them for a full breakdown of costs, so that you can do a direct comparison of price and service.

  • Current mortgage lender’s fees

If you have a mortgage on the property you wish to sell, there may be charges associated with repaying it early. Get prepared: ask your lender for a full rundown of the charges that'll be due when you sell.

  • Removal costs

There are a range of removal services available to suit a wide variety of needs: from packing and transporting everything yourself, to having all the work done for you by a removals firm. Research the best options for your timeframe, budget, and location.

Explore the costs of selling a house in more detail here.

Don’t choose the estate agent that offers the highest valuation

Finding the right estate agent isn’t easy. There are over 18,000 in the UK, and in the average postcode there will be around 62 agents listing property for sale. With so much choice, it's hard to know which agent is actually the best.

It can be tempting to pick an agent solely based on how highly their value your property.

However, it’s common for estate agents to overvalue properties. This can be due to lack of experience, or worse: a tactic to win your business. However, an experienced agent will know that over-valuing your home is actually bad for both of you.

Because many potential buyers filter their online property search by price, overpriced properties don't even appear on their radar. This means that estate agents often end up having to make drastic price cuts in order to encourage buyers to view a property that was originally over valued. On top of this, price cuts themselves make buyers suspicious that there could be something wrong with your home. Our research has found that properties that have been reduced in price tend to sell much slower than those that are accurately valued in the first place.

Your home could therefore end up selling for much less than if it had been more realistically priced from the start. A good estate agent knows that: if your home sells for less, they get paid less too.

On the other hand, a realistic - or even a competitively low - valuation is likely to encourage interest from a broader range of buyers. This competition in turn drives up the selling price as potential buyers try to out bid each other.

Invite a few agents round and talk to them about how they came up with their valuation. The best agents will be able to provide examples of properties they've sold recently to support their valuation.

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Want to get a quick estimate of how much your home is worth? Our online valuation tool combines data about recently sold properties in your area with information you input about the condition and unique features of the property to provide a free estimate of your home's value. Try it now.

Brew some coffee

One of the biggest turn offs during viewings are bad smells. In the days before viewings, make some small changes to prevent everyday smells leaving a bad impression. Small things like opening windows to air out rooms, and tackling the causes of cigarette smoke or stale bins can make a huge difference.

There’s a cliche that you should bake bread on viewing days to fill your home with the aromas of domestic bliss. Brewing fresh coffee or lighting scented candles is an easier way to achieve the same effect. Investing in some plants or cut flowers is another cheap way to make a room look nice, whilst helping it smell lovely.

For more tips on preparing your house for viewings take a look at our handy guide.

People will look in your cupboards

It can be tempting to hide away day-to-day clutter during viewings. However potential buyers are nosy. They're thinking about making a huge financial investment in your home, so they're likely to be keen to explore every nook and cranny.

Making sure your things are neatly arranged in your cupboards, and any private items are stored away suitably, will give a good impression of the amount of storage space your home has.

As a general rule, try not to fill storage space to more than two-thirds of full capacity. This will reassure potential buyers that you have adequate storage space. On the other hand, if it's clear you can't fit all your belongings in, it can give the impression you're struggling for space

Storage is something that's important to many potential buyers - particularly if they are planning to live somewhere for a long time, or grow their family. This easy hack could help tip the scales in your favour.

Think about your target audience

Knowing what sort of buyer you're trying to attract will make it much easier to secure offers quickly. If you have a target audience in mind you'll be able to tailor your marketing to capture the attention of the most interested buyers.

For example, if your home is perfect for a young professional commuting to a nearby city, you should make sure your online advert (and estate agent) talks about the excellent transport links in the area. Consider staging a room as a home office, to demonstrate how the space could be used.

On the other hand, if your home is perfect for a growing family, ensure your advert includes details of the best local schools. Focus on staging your children's rooms beautifully so that potential buyers can also imagine their family (or future family) living in this home.

Remember, people often buy into a certain lifestyle. If you're able to demonstrate that your home can provide the lifestyle they're after, you'll be much more likely to secure an offer.

Find a conveyancer early

The best time to appoint a solicitor or conveyancer is around the same time that you choose your estate agent. Your conveyancer won’t step in until a formal offer is made, but it’s handy to have your selling team in place and on the same page from the very start. There’s nothing more frustrating or damaging to a sale than bad communication.

Preparation and planning can do a lot to speed up the conveyancing process. There are several standard bits of information that your legal representative will need to get the ball rolling. For example, filling out a Property Information Form TA6 and a Fitting and Contents Form TA10, before they're needed, can help move things along nicely.

Establish your limits and stick to them

People move house for many reasons, and you’ll probably have your own unique set of motives for wanting to sell. For many people, timing and finances are two of the most important factors to consider. Taking a moment to think about your needs can help you plan realistically for the sales process.

For example, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you willing to accept a lower offer to achieve a quicker sale, or would you rather hold out for the highest bidder?

  • Are you able to wait for a high point in the property market, or would you prefer to start selling straight away?

Not all considerations are so large. It’s just as important to think about the important day-to-day things that will impact your home sale. Start by considering about how often you’d like to hear from your estate agent, and whether you want to be present for house viewings. Being able to communicate what you expect will help your agent provide their best service, whilst making the sales process easier for you too.

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Related posts
First Time Sellers
How does an estate agent value a property?
Valuations are a huge part of the selling process, as they provide an accurate image of your property's worth. So what do estate agents take into account?
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