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  1. Blog
  2. 16 common mistakes when selling your home
House selling tips
05 April 2024

16 common mistakes when selling your home

Sam Edwards
Senior Writer & Researcher
Top mistakes when selling a house.

Table of contents

  1. 1. Underestimating selling costs
  2. 2. Picking the wrong estate agent
  3. 3. Setting the wrong asking price
  4. 4. Not changing agents when they’re underperforming
  5. 5. Not getting feedback from your estate agent
  6. 6. Trying to sell without an estate agent
  7. 7. Not putting up a ‘for sale’ sign
  8. 8. Not fixing (or being aware of) key issues
  9. 9. Trying to hide issues with your property
  10. 10. Picking the wrong conveyancer
  11. 11. Selling at the wrong time
  12. 12. Accepting the highest offer and not the right offer
  13. 13. Not knowing what you want
  14. 14. Not being willing to compromise
  15. 15. Not setting enough time between exchange and completion
  16. 16. Not being cautious of scams
  17. 17. Summary: Be prepared!

If you’re thinking about selling your home, it quite literally pays to do your research. By anticipating some of the more delicate parts of homeselling, you can save yourself both time and money.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the top 16 mistakes people make when selling their homes.

1. Underestimating selling costs

There are a lot of costs involved with selling; your Energy Performance Certificate and conveyancing fees to name a few. But if you’re thinking of buying a house at the same time as selling it, you’re also going to have to think about other fees, like Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT).

So, how do you prepare for the costs of homeselling? Let’s take a look at them in closer detail:

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

  • Cost: It costs £35 to £85 to get an EPC.
  • Priority: You can afford to get a lower-cost certificate - because the amount you pay will not affect the quality of your rating.

Estate agent fees

  • Cost: 0.75 to 3% of your property’s final sale price
  • Priority: Try not to worry too much about your estate agent’s fees. The better your agent, the more money your property will likely sell for. In other words, your agent will pay for themselves.

Conveyancing fees

  • Cost: If you’re selling a house you can expect to pay at least £1000 on average for conveyancing fees. If you’re also buying at the same time, you can expect to add £1750 to this figure.
  • Priority: As conveyancers are solicitors, the general rule is that the more you pay, the higher your quality of service.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

  • Cost: When you buy a house you can expect to pay a fixed rate of SDLT. The current tax thresholds are:
Property valueSDLT rate
Up to £250,000Zero
£250,001 - £925,0005%
£925,001 - £1.5 million10%
Above £1.5 million12%
  • Priority: Preparing for SDLT is a big priority for homebuyers. If you can’t afford it, you simply cannot afford to buy that dream home. Think ahead - ensure you have enough money left over from your home sale to pay for SDLT.

2. Picking the wrong estate agent

Your property sale is one of the biggest transactions you’ll ever make. That’s why it’s super important that you pick a reliable estate agent to manage your sale.

A good estate agent won’t just shepherd potential buyers around your property for viewings. They’ll market your property with the best resources they have, negotiate your offer, and ensure buyers are informed and energised throughout the entire process. Picking the wrong estate agent may lead to an absence of house viewings, offers, and a general lack of communication and transparency.

You might be tempted to choose your agent based on the highest valuation, but this method can have disastrous results for your house sale. Overvalued properties are not unheard of but most agents avoid this.

So how do you ensure you pick the right estate agent for your house sale? Compare agents using hard, factual performance data.

By comparing agents with our free Estate Agent Comparison Tool, you can pick the best based on their documented ability rather than reviews or fees alone. Our tool allows you to book valuation appointments with three different agents from your shortlist. After receiving your results from all three, you can choose which one you’re happy to proceed with.

By picking the most reliable valuation, you can avoid any problems with overvaluations.

3. Setting the wrong asking price

A realistic price on property portals like Zoopla and Rightmove will have a huge impact on the amount of attention your home receives from potential buyers.

An overpriced property will deter buyers, while an under-valued property will raise eyebrows. The best price will encourage a bidding war and make buyers fight for the chance to buy your home.

Check out your house price using our free Online Valuation Tool.

Your agent will have plenty of time to provide you with good advice on the subject - but if you want to get some good groundwork in, examine the sold prices of nearby properties in your neighbourhood. They should set some boundaries as to what’s realistic and what’s plain fanciful.

Also, check out the asking prices of similar nearby properties on Rightmove and Zoopla. Following popular consensus on value can give you a good idea of what’s selling and what’s not.

4. Not changing agents when they’re underperforming

Of course, it’s really important to pick an estate agent you’re comfortable with, but if your house sale isn’t going anywhere, this might be a sign your agent is underperforming. In this situation, homesellers should consult their contract with the agent and check when the tie-in period ends.

Most agents have clauses in their contracts that mean they are legally bound to market your property for a certain amount of time. After this period is up, you can switch your estate agent to a better one.

But how do you find a better one? If you haven’t already, you should compare estate agents using our free Estate Agent Comparison Tool. We compare local branches using the latest data from the Land Registry and property portals and provide you with a shortlist of top performing agents in your local area.

5. Not getting feedback from your estate agent

Your agent is a fountain of property knowledge, and that knowledge should be used to your advantage during all stages of the homeselling process.

During their second look at your property, your agent should provide useful tips regarding the layout of your home - anything that can be used to boost your property’s performance during house viewings.

You should always ask your estate agent to take notes during viewings. Feedback from potential buyers can be used to address small things about your property in time for the next appointment. You’ll learn exactly what works and what doesn’t.

6. Trying to sell without an estate agent

If you have some free time and a sharp tongue, you might consider selling without an estate agent. Unless you have a guaranteed buyer lined up, this is a bad idea.

Potential problems of selling by yourself

It’s time consuming

When you consider the sheer amount of work required to market and sell a property, let alone handle groundwork like viewings, the prospects of a smooth sale diminish somewhat. Estate agents take a huge weight off your shoulders and their commission essentially pays for themselves.

You get restricted marketing

You can’t submit listings to Zoopla and Rightmove without an estate agent. As a result, you’ll have to find another way to market your property to would-be buyers.

You’re generally not the best person to value your own property

Without an accurate indication of your property's market value from an estate agent, it could be a lot harder to set a realistic asking price. As a result, putting your house on the market with the wrong price tag might leave you with a poorer selling price, or even worse, no sale at all.

Costs of marketing

You’ll have to cover marketing costs upfront and you won’t get a refund if you don’t sell or achieve a good sales price. These include professional photography, marketing materials and advertising space. This means selling by yourself is unlikely to save money in the long run.

You can read more in our guide ‘Do you need an estate agent to sell your house?’.

7. Not putting up a ‘for sale’ sign

Some homesellers might be inclined to disregard a ‘for sale’ sign. It’s true, they’re not the most attractive of objects, and in an online age it may seem futile to rely on one. However, ‘for sale’ signs serve two unique purposes:

  1. Getting your house noticed by passers-by

People are much more likely to notice ‘for sale’ signs when they are actively looking for a property to buy.

  1. Making your sale known in the local community

Friends, family and neighbours are likely to inform and encourage their familiars to buy a property that they notice has a ‘for sale’ sign.

8. Not fixing (or being aware of) key issues

Most buyers are advised to check the condition of their potential properties once their offers have been accepted. Selling a house without any idea of its structural integrity is a very poor decision.

If the property is found to have issues (Japanese knotweed or glaring structural problems), a potential buyer could drop out of the offer, or achieve some leeway in offer negotiations. They could haggle to buy your property for less, or force you to spend money on fixing the problem.

Don’t be caught on the back foot when a buyer orders a structural survey of your property. Make sure you’re confident in the condition of your home before you put it on the market.

9. Trying to hide issues with your property

In the same vein as not fixing key issues about the condition of your property, actively trying to hide issues with your property is probably one of the worst things you can do as a homeseller.

Don’t feel you need to address things like faulty light switches. They won’t have a huge impact on your property’s performance. But if you’re aware of structural issues that could affect the longevity of your home, trying to hide them will not go down well. Surveyors with years of experience are well trained to uncover problems with properties.

10. Picking the wrong conveyancer

Conveyancers handle a big portion of your home sale. The quality and professionalism of your conveyancer dictates how quickly and neatly your sale concludes. That means it’s really important to pick a solicitor you’re comfortable with and trust to complete the sale.

So how do you pick the right solicitor?

  • Check their credentials - Are they members of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers or the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme?
  • Receive a full breakdown of their fees and disbursements - Don’t get caught out by hidden fees. Ask for a full quote of their fees and disbursements.
  • Make sure they have a system for tracking your sale - Knowing your conveyancer is available throughout the entire sale will prevent a lot of stress. Most conveyancers now use apps to update you on exactly where they are in the conveyancing process.
  • Compare Google reviews - Check what the latest customers are saying about your conveyancer. It’s the only way to be certain of their track record.

11. Selling at the wrong time

If you want to sell your home, one of the first things to think about is the time of year you’re selling in. Traditionally, properties seem to sell better in the spring and autumn periods. At the same time, you need to consider whether now is really the best time to sell for you and your family. Homeselling is a big process, and it may eat into the abundance of holidays and plans you’ve booked through the year ahead.

As well as the above, you’d do well to consider the current state of the property market, both locally and nationally. In a ‘seller’s market’, there is a shortage of stock and properties are selling very quickly, and for a lot of money. In a ‘buyer’s market’, there is an abundance of stock and properties are selling slower, and for less money.

12. Accepting the highest offer and not the right offer

Though the price you market your house for has a big impact on your success, who you sell your house to is just as important. If you want to prevent your sale from falling through, choosing the right buyer will mitigate any potential pitfalls. Many transactions have failed due to problems somewhere along the property chain.

If you want to accept the right offer, make sure that you:

  • Are happy with the amount offered: One of the most obvious factors to consider when accepting an offer is how much the buyer is willing to pay. How close is their offer to your asking price? Take a look at local properties that have sold since you put yours on the market. How much did they sell for? If they sold for £10,000 below your asking price, it’s not unreasonable for a buyer to offer you £10,000 less.
  • The buyer position in the chain works for you: First time buyers and cash buyers are chain-free. This means you won’t have to deal with other property transactions along the way. So long as the structural surveys come back positive (and the buyer’s lender is happy) your house sale will proceed to completion without any problems. If the buyer is a second-stepper (a homeowner already), the best thing you can do is make sure they already have an offer on their home. This will help prevent any delays.
  • How long you’re willing to market the property for: It goes without saying that properties that have spent ages on the market often stagnate and fail to sell. If your property has been on the market for over fifteen weeks, it’s likely the next offer you receive will be the best you can hope for - that is, unless you renegade on your sale and try selling another year.

Read more in our guide to ‘Receiving and accepting the right offer’.

13. Not knowing what you want

Before you sell your house, you need to know exactly what you want to achieve with your home sale. Are you upscaling or downscaling? If you’re moving, how much money will you need to achieve this goal? Are you looking for a quick sale or the biggest offer?

Knowing the answers to the above questions will allow your estate agent and conveyancer to better assist you. They can coordinate their tactics and ensure your home sale completes in accordance with your wishes.

If your intentions are known, you will also be able to communicate more clearly with your buyer. This kind of transparency can only work in your favour. Buyers are more likely to proceed with sales when homesellers are clear and transparent, as they don’t need to second guess you.

14. Not being willing to compromise

A big part of property transactions is compromise. Ultimately, you’re not going to be able to make everything work exactly the way you want things to.

Transactions involve more than one person, which means you need to cater for the buyer, as well as the rest of the property chain. The bottom line is you need to be flexible with the price of your property, what comes with the house sale, and your fixtures and fittings.

15. Not setting enough time between exchange and completion

Some eager homesellers may be tempted to rush into completion day after exchanging contracts. But this can be incredibly detrimental to the big day! You should set aside at least three weeks (if not longer) to prepare for completion day. During this time, we recommend:

What to do between exchange and completion

Contacting your utility suppliers and paying your final bills

Electricity, gas and phone suppliers need to be made aware of your change in address.

At the same time, you should settle any bills or exit fees before you finally move out. It’s best to get this stuff done early as suppliers can take a while to register your new address.

Updating your important contact details

Your utility suppliers aren’t the only contacts that need to be updated of your move. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Bank
  • GP
  • Dentist
  • Local council
  • Electoral roll
  • Council Tax

Getting quotes on removals costs

Make sure you pick a reliable removal company to help you transfer belongings on completion day. Most removal companies require a deposit to book their services. Without one, the company may give your slot to someone else. These services always book up fast, so don’t leave this until the last minute!

Start packing

Of course, you need to start packing! This task might seem monumental (and it is) but don’t be disheartened. Every road starts with that first step and there’s a few things you can do to make sure your packing is first class:

  • Get some cardboard boxes from the supermarket (they’re free)
  • Label your boxes
  • Start with non-essential items
  • Keep your valuables close

Clearing out and decluttering

Moving into a new home is a great opportunity to rid yourself of all the unnecessary clutter you’ve collected over the years. Whether it’s to charity or the recycling bin (or the dump), now’s a great time to dispose of those unwanted items.

For more advice, check out our ‘Moving house checklist’.

16. Not being cautious of scams

Though property fraud is incredibly unlikely, it’s certainly not fake news. If you want to protect yourself against most types of property fraud, make sure that you:

  • Don’t send emails containing your bank details
  • Question unusual emails from professionals you’re familiar with
  • Get yourself a reliable estate agent

Summary: Be prepared!

The key takeaway from our list of top mistakes is simple: homeowners who are prepared from the get-go have the easiest and most fruitful homeselling experience. Get prepared today and compare estate agents using hard, factual data by using our free Estate Agent Comparison Tool.

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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