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HouseWorth
© GetAgent Limited 2024
  1. Blog
  2. How to sell a house - 15 steps
House selling tips
22 April 2022

How to sell a house - 15 steps

Sam Edwards
Senior Writer & Researcher

Table of contents

  1. 1. 15 steps to sell a house
  2. 2. Average homeselling timeline
  3. 3. Prepping ahead - the secret to success!
  4. 4. FAQs

Selling a house can be a complex and stressful process. What you do in this period can save, or cost you, thousands of pounds. On the other hand, it can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences, especially if you get it right.

If you’re seriously thinking about selling your home, the worst thing you can do is dive straight into the deep-end. Like with any big decision, the best results come from preparation.

Since 2015, GetAgent has helped over 600,000 homeowners successfully sell their homes. The combined experience in our team of experts has helped us create an informative, step-by-step guide to the selling process. Learn the dos and don’ts with this simple, yet comprehensive guide.

15 steps to sell a house

To sell your house, you need to complete the following steps. While most of these steps must be completed chronologically, a few of them happen at the same time. For example, you’ll probably research the costs of selling your home at the same time as deciding whether it's a good time to sell.

1 - Decide if NOW is the time

If you're reading this, it's clear you're intrigued about selling your home. Whether you've found your dream place or you're looking to cash in on your equity, selling definitely has its perks. Still, before you dive into this big decision, there are a few important factors to think about.

Are your circumstances conducive to selling?

It could take up to six months to sell your home. While you can never fully prepare for life's tribulations, you should try to think ahead and prepare for any eventualities.

Remember, if you decide to backtrack during the process, it could hit your wallet pretty hard!

There are many factors that could affect the success of your sale. The main four are:

  1. The time of year
  2. The state of the national market
  3. Your local market conditions
  4. Your personal circumstances

Time of year

The time of year you decide to sell your home can affect your chances of successfully selling your home. Many potential buyers are too busy during the winter and summer months to consider moving, which means your chances of selling in these months can diminish greatly.

National market conditions

In a similar vein, the overall state of the wider market and economy has an impact on the available number of interested buyers. If there’s low mortgage interest, more people will be interested in buying.

Local market conditions

Lastly, your selling success can be influenced by local market conditions (distinct from the overall property market). For instance, areas within commuting distance of major cities often see higher demand for living space compared to rural regions.

Work out if you're making a loss

One of the first things you need to consider when selling a house is the expense. While you may stand to make some money, there can be lots of unexpected fees along the course of your sale.

Do you have enough money to finance the sale of your property? Moreover, have you built enough equity in your home? If you’ve owned your home for a number of years and paid back enough of your mortgage, you stand a greater chance of making a profit.

Below are the primary fees you can expect to pay when selling a property valued at £287,506.

ServiceAverage cost rangeActual costCumulative cost
Estate agent fees1.2% (£3,450.07)£3,450.07£3,450.07
Conveyancing fees£500 - £1,500£1,000£4,450.07
Disbursements£164£164£4,614.07
EPC£80£80£4,694.07

Visit our guide to selling costs for more details.

2 - Decide if you'll rent or buy

Whether you’re selling your home to make a profit, or you’ve got your eye on a dream house, the fact remains - you’ll need somewhere to live once you've sold.

Your future accommodation will shape a large part of your buying process. You’ll likely have to juggle these plans alongside your home sale, so having a goal in mind will go a long way.

Timing is everything if you’re buying property, especially if you find yourself in a property chain. A chain is where a pair of buyers and sellers find themselves reliant on other transactions to complete alongside their own.

An example of a chain would be where a potential buyer is interested in a property, but the seller is also hoping to buy somewhere so they can move out. This would make the seller reliant on another seller and so on and so forth...

3 - Compare estate agents

Now you’re clued up on the costs involved with selling, and you’ve decided upon your future living situation, you now need to pick an estate agent to sell your home.

You could decide to forgo instructing an agent, but this can be incredibly risky. Our research shows the benefits of selling with an estate agent greatly outweigh the negatives. If you want to read more about the benefits of agents, check out our blog article.

Why choosing the right estate agents matters

The outcome of your sale can be significantly influenced by your agent's performance. Their responsibilities are extensive – from valuing and marketing your home to negotiating the sale price, managing viewings, and collaborating with solicitors. Choosing the right estate agent can enhance your success across all these aspects.

If you’re going to pick an agent, remember these four don'ts:

  • Don’t just pick the agent with the lowest fee - make an informed decision based on their past performance. Estate agent fees are money well spent, especially if the agent over performs.
  • Don’t pick the agent with the highest valuation - this could be an attempt to win you over. Get valuations from at least three agents to get an accurate idea of your home's value.
  • Don’t just rely on hearsay - your friend's estate agent may be ill suited to your home and area. Compare the best local agents using hard data.
  • Don't just settle for an online estate agent - online estate agents like Purplebricks and Strike might be good choices for some, but a high street estate agent will nearly always get you a better deal for your home.

Compare local estate agents in seconds

Want some help finding the right local estate agent? GetAgent lets you compare high street estate agents in your local area according to key performance metrics.

Compare estate agents

It takes 2 minutes.

4 - Check if you already have an EPC

If you’re selling your home, an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is required by law. These certifications tell people how energy efficient your property is. Rated out of 100 and scored from A to E, an EPC is a good way of making your home more attractive to potential buyers.

To increase your EPC rating, you need to make your home more energy efficient. You can do this by making a number of home improvements, like getting a new boiler or adding double glazing.

Some homes already have an EPC rating, but many don’t.

Even if you have an old EPC, it’s always worth checking to see if you can get a better rating, especially if you’ve made your home more energy efficient in the last couple of years.

A certificate may cost between £35 and £80. You can find out if your property has an Energy Performance Certificate by using our EPC checker

Does my house already have an EPC?

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!

5 - Get your property valued

A valuation is an estimate of how much your property is actually worth under current market conditions. There are two ways to find out your property’s value:

  • Through an instant online tool like GetAgent's.
  • An estate agent’s valuation

The most reliable valuation method is with an estate agent.

Why is a valuation important?

Getting your property valued is essential before you put it on the market. It’s the basis of your asking price, which will affect how much you ultimately make in a property sale. There’s more to a valuation however, than simply getting the highest price.

Valuations need to be accurate - or at least, on the right side of accurate. Many sales have fallen through after a buyer’s mortgage provider has decided a property was worth less than the market value.

In such a scenario, the lender will offer the buyer less than what they needed to purchase the property. If you’re in the process of selling to such a buyer, and you refuse to accommodate their lower offer, the sale will fall through.

If you choose to go with an incorrect property valuation, this will keep happening.

To ensure you get an accurate valuation, receive valuations from at least three agents. Three will help you decide which valuation is appropriate for your property, and which agent you're happy to entrust your property sale with.

Check out our blog for more information on how estate agents value property.

6 - Decide how much to sell your home for

Setting the right asking price is a difficult part of the homeselling process. Set your price too high, you’ll put off interested buyers. Go too low and you'll undercut your home’s value.

Ultimately, you should trust your estate agent's expertise in this matter. A good agent knows how to sell a home no matter the state of the market.

If you want to be informed, it's a good idea to stay up to date with local market conditions. Our free House Prices Tool can help you assess your local area's conditions.

Or you can give our Asking Price Calculator a go below!

7 - Put your home on market

Once you’ve picked an asking price, it’s time for your agent to begin marketing your home.

After taking photos of your home and drawing up an accurate floor plan, your estate agent will upload your property listing to key property portals like Rightmove and Zoopla.

Estate agents also provide offline marketing, where they contact buyers interested in properties like yours with information about your home. You'll also get a 'For Sale' sign!

You can monitor the performance of your online advert here.

8 - Prepare your property for house viewings

Letting strangers into your home for house viewings can be both scary and exciting - but this is a key stage in the homeselling process, and there’s things you can do to maximise your chance of selling for a good price.

Make sure you...

  • Declutter your home and remove sentimental items
  • Maximise your kerb appeal
  • Fix things that need fixing

Don’t...

  • Make any big upgrades to your home
  • Try and host yourself - leave it to the estate agent
  • Leave pets, toys, or memorabilia in the house

House viewings

Once you’ve prepared your home, your estate agent will start arranging viewings for potential buyers. This shouldn’t require any work on your part - viewings are one of your agent's primary responsibilities, and if you’ve picked one you’re confident with, you should have nothing to worry about!

If you want a bigger role in the viewings, you could ask your agent to jot down immediate feedback from viewers. This will help you see where your home is performing well and not as well. There might be something you can do before the next viewing in order to boost your success!

If you’re unhappy with your estate agent and want to switch, use our Comparison Tool to find the best performing agents in a radius of your property.

9 - Choose a conveyancing solicitor

Now your home sale is on track, it’s time to pick a conveyancing solicitor.

A conveyancing solicitor (or conveyancer) is a professional trained to deal with the legal process of property transactions. There are two types of conveyancer to choose from:

  • Local - they have a high street office near to your property
  • Online - they don’t have an office and can be located anywhere in the country

While it might sound comforting to meet a conveyancer in-person, there's no discernible benefit to hiring a local conveyancer. Their job can be carried out from anywhere in the country and many people never actually meet their conveyancers.

Most conveyancing solicitors offer a ‘fixed fee’ service, where what you pay at the end is the same as what you agreed at the start.

Picking one is difficult because you’re trusting someone with the weight of your property sale, and that’s a huge responsibility. Generally speaking, the more you pay, the more reliable they’ll be.

For more information check out our extensive guide on 'Choosing a conveyancer'. Or, if you’re still wondering about the function of a conveyancer, check out our guide, 'What is a conveyancer'?

10 - Accept an offer

Receiving an offer for your home can be incredibly exciting, but it’s important to keep your cool and consider your options. Naturally, many homesellers settle for the highest offer they get - but there’s a lot more to accepting an offer than the amount of money offered.

  • Take note of how close the offer is to your asking price, as well as the sold prices of properties nearby. Offers are nearly always made through comparisons to other similar properties and limitations imposed by mortgage offers. If your home has structural issues this will affect a buyer’s mortgage, and consequently, how much they’ll offer.
  • How confident are you in the buyer? Their financial position and logistical situation (need to move by a certain date) will impact everything that happens during the conveyancing process. Your success depends on their reliability.
  • Listen to what your estate agent suggests. They're trained and experienced in the intricacies of salesmanship and offer negotiation. They can correctly advise on the next step.

11 - Negotiate contracts

Around the same time as accepting an offer, you should consider negotiating a contract of sale. This is an opportunity to get a better price for your home. If you’re looking to get more money, consider:

  • Changing the completion date to benefit the buyer
  • Leaving behind white goods, and specific fixtures & fittings
  • Paying for surveys and Stamp Duty Land Tax

Remember: A house sale is not legally binding until contracts have been exchanged. However, it’s considered poor etiquette to switch to a higher offer once you've accepted one!

Read more in our guide, 'Received an offer? What you need to do'.

12 - Exchange contracts

Once you’ve accepted an offer and you’re happy for the sale to go ahead, the next step is to exchange contracts. This is a job for your conveyancing solicitor.

But what does exchanging contracts mean? It refers to the exchange of signed contracts between your solicitor and the buyer's solicitor. During this process, a completion day is set - the day when keys and funds exchange hands.

When an exchange takes place, both parties are legally bound to complete the transaction. If the sale doesn't take place, the party responsible must pay reparations. In this situation, the lead buyer has the most to lose as they have both a deposit and a mortgage on the line.

During an exchange (which usually takes place over the phone), your solicitor will call not just the seller’s solicitor, but the solicitors of every party across the property chain. Everyone in the chain needs to agree on a single completion date so that all sales can move forwards at the same time.

Remember there's a lot that can go wrong before the exchange...

The lead up to an exchange of contracts with a buyer can be fraught with difficulties. There's a reason why homesellers dread the prospect of property chains.

Unless they're a cash buyer or a first-time buyer, your buyer will be reliant on the sale of their own property to finance their purchase of yours. Naturally, there's a risk that their property sale could fall through - for any number of reasons.

Our advice is simple: listen to your estate agent. They've seen countless property transactions progress through to completion and they'll know how to help should things sour.

Before the exchange goes ahead...

Moving day and completion day are more or less the same thing for buyers and sellers. That means it's important to decide on a day on which to complete the sale. It's best to be pragmatic and open towards compromise. Chances are no one will get to complete their sale on the day they wish.

For more information and advice on exchanging contracts, check out our short and snappy guide.

13 - Complete the sale

The final day of a property transaction is completion day. It’s on this day that:

  1. The buyer’s conveyancer receives and transfers the mortgage funds to your conveyancer.
  2. Your conveyancer transfers the funds to your account after they've paid off any remaining mortgage and deducted their fees.
  3. Ownership is officially transferred to the buyer.
  4. You hand over keys to your estate agent and vacate the property (usually by 1pm).
  5. You move into your new property.

Completion day is the day you can finally relax and celebrate the sale of your property. There’s still some last things to take care of, but this is where all your hard work pays off!

Moving out of your home

  1. If you’re buying a house as well as selling, you’ll be moving on the day that your sale completes.
  2. In such a scenario, your conveyancer will need to transfer payment for the property before you pick up the keys. Once your conveyancer has sent your lender the ‘Certificate of Title’, your buyer will transfer the funds. Your conveyancer will then use this to pay for the property on your behalf.
  3. Once the seller’s lawyer has received the money, you’ll officially own the property!
  4. Pick up the keys from either the estate agent or conveyancer and move in!

For more information on moving day, including other possibilities like renting, read our comprehensive article.

14 - Pay off your mortgage

If you have any outstanding mortgage, your conveyancer will need to pay this off. Once the buyer has paid for your property, your conveyancer will then use that money to pay your mortgage lender.

Remember, you’ll have to pay both the outstanding amount on your loan, and any charges due for ending your mortgage term early. Only once your lender has received all the money they are due, along with anyone else who needs to be paid (for example your estate agent, and the lawyer themselves), will your conveyancer give the remaining amount to you.

If the sale price of your home is less than the amount you still owe to your lender, this is called 'negative equity'. If you have negative equity, all of the money from the sale goes directly to the mortgage lender. You will then receive a bill for the remaining amount. If you don't pay within a set time frame, you will be liable for court action.

15 - Pay the conveyancer and estate agent

Usually, your conveyancer deducts both their fee, your estate agent’s, and any outstanding mortgage, before they transfer your house sale funds to your account.

  • Your conveyancer’s fees will cost £500 to £1500 plus disbursements
  • Your estate agent’s fees will cost from 0.75% to 3% (+ VAT)

Once these outstanding monies have been paid, your house sale is officially concluded! Put your feet up and pop open some champagne!

Average homeselling timeline

From start to finish, you can expect the process of selling a house to take 3 to 5 months in 2023. Here is a breakdown of the timeline you can expect:

Can I speed up the process?

It’s difficult to be patient in a house sale. There’s a myriad of factors, most of which out of your control, that affect the speed of the transaction. However, if you’re proactive with a number of things, you can speed up the process and sell your house quickly:

  • Knowing what you want from your sale
  • Choosing the right estate agent
  • Offering to pay the buyer’s fees
  • Selling for less
  • Picking the right conveyancer
  • Clear and concise communication

Prepping ahead - the secret to success!

The ability to think ahead is a skill that's consistently seen as an essential attribute for completing most tasks to a high level. And while it might sound like a cliche, the key to successful home sale lies in preparation. Being well-prepared affords you the time and peace of mind to confidently tackle each stage of the homeselling process.

Hopefully, you now have a good idea of what to expect from the selling process. For more information and advice, check out our selling tips section.

FAQs

What is the first thing to do when selling a house?

If you’re feeling confident about selling your home, you’re ready for the first steps. Provided that you’ve evaluated the costs associated with selling, as well as the best time to sell, the first thing you should do is request a valuation from an estate agent.

Valuations are extremely important because they provide an accurate estimate of the profit you’ll make from your sale. To get a good valuation, you need to choose a reliable estate agent. You can compare the best local estate agents in your area by using our free comparison service.

Should I buy before selling my house?

Most estate agents will say yes, you should buy before selling, but the truth of the matter is there isn’t a right or wrong answer.

Buying before selling means:

  • You know exactly how much money you can spend on your new home.
  • You don't have to worry about a property chain falling through.
  • If you’re moving to a new city, renting can give you enough time to decide which area you want to move to.
  • If you already have a buyer in mind, you’ll be in a stronger position to quickly secure your new property. Because you’re ready to buy with no delays, you could use your position to get a better price.

But there could be issues with…

  • Moving into a temporary rental property. This can cause extra stress as you’ll have to move twice within a short period of time.
  • The expense of moving twice. You’ll have to budget for the cost of rent, removal and storage.

Thinking about
selling your home?

Picking the right estate agent is vital for a successful sale. GetAgent makes choosing simple. Discover the best performing agents in your area.

  • Free
  • Data-driven
  • No obligation

Thinking about
selling your home?

Picking the right estate agent is vital for a successful sale. GetAgent makes choosing simple. Discover the best performing agents in your area.

  • Free
  • Data-driven
  • No obligation

Compare estate agents

It takes 2 minutes.

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