Selling your home is a complex and stressful process. What you do in this period can save, or cost you, thousands of pounds. On the other hand, it’s 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, we at GetAgent have helped over 300,000 home owners successfully sell their properties. The combined experience of our team of experts has helped us create a step-by-step guide to homeselling. Learn the dos and don’ts with this simple, yet comprehensive guide.
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.
One of the first things you need to consider when selling a house is the cost. There are lots of unexpected fees you’ll have to pay during the course of your sale, so it’s best to be prepared.
Most of these costs and fees can be split into two categories:
‘Basics’ are what you should expect to pay in a standard home sale, while ‘extras’ are potential additional payments.
Remember: You will probably have to pay at least one of the extra charges, so it’s best to learn what they are.
|EPC||£35 - £85||£60|
|Local estate agent fees||1.48%||£3966.40|
|Removal costs||£900 - £1700||£1300|
|Mortgage fees||£300 (Exit fee)||£300 (Exit fee)|
|Conveyancer fees||£400 - £1500||£1000|
|Prepare your home for sale||£0 - £7000||£3500|
|Incentives||£0 - £2000||£1000|
|Capital gains tax||18% - 28% on profit|
|Indemnity insurance||£20 - £500||£260|
|Final utility bills||£0 - £500||£250|
|Home report (Scotland)||£585 - £820||£702.50|
Visit our complete guide ‘How much it will cost to sell your house’ for full details on each of these costs in chronological order.
The next step you need to consider is whether it’s actually a good time to sell your house. There are many factors that could affect the success of your sale.
The main three are:
The time of year you decide to sell your home can greatly affect your chances of selling. For example, most buyers are too busy during the winter and summer months to consider moving, which means your chances of selling in these periods diminish severely.
In a similar vein, the overall state of the economy and property market has an impact on the amount of interested buyers available. If there’s low mortgage interest, more people will be interested in buying.
Lastly, local market conditions (not to be confused with the overall property market) have an impact on your chances of selling. For example, you often find greater demand for properties in areas within commuting distance of big cities, than homes in very rural areas.
See our complete guide to ‘Should I sell my house now?’ for more information and tips.
Whether you’re selling your home to make a decent profit, or you’ve got your eye on a dream property, the fact remains: you’ll need somewhere to live after you sell your home.
Whether you’ll rent or buy is important to decide before you start down the road of selling. You’ll most likely have to juggle these plans alongside your home sale, especially if you’re planning on buying property, so having an idea where you’ll end up will go a long way.
Timing is everything if you’re buying property, especially if you find yourself in a property chain. A property chain is when 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 someone is interested in buying 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…
Overall, renting definitely has its benefits if you’re considering selling - but most people decide to buy property so they can use their built-up equity.
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 not to sell with an agent, but this can be incredibly risky. Our research shows the benefits greatly outweigh the negatives. If you want to read more about the benefits of estate agents, check out our blog article.
Choosing the right estate agent matters because their performance will greatly affect the outcome of your property sale. They’re responsible for key elements - like marketing your home, liaising with solicitors, negotiating your sale and handling viewings - so choosing the right one will boost your success in these areas.
If you’re going to pick an agent, remember:
It takes 2 minutes. 100% free. No obligation.
We cover more dos and don’ts and the biggest questions about estate agents in our guide, 'How to choose the right estate agent'.
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 A to E, EPCs are a good way of making your home more attractive to potential buyers.
To increase your EPC score, 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.
EPCs cost between £35 and £120. You can find out if your property has an EPC rating using our EPC checker.
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!
For more information on EPCs, you can read our guide article.
A property valuation is an estimate of how much your property will sell for in current market conditions. There are two ways to calculate your property’s value:
The most reliable valuation method is one from an estate agent.
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 lender 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 decide not to reduce your price to accommodate their lower position, the sale will fall through.
If you’ve chosen to go with an incorrect property valuation, this will keep happening. You can read more about how to see how much your house is worth here.
The best way to get an accurate property valuation is to get valuations from more than one estate agent. This will help you decide which valuation is appropriate for your property, as well as which agent you are likely to get on with and trust with your sale.
It takes 2 minutes. 100% free. No obligation.
Check out our blog for more information on how an estate agent values property.
Setting the right asking price for your home is a difficult part of the selling process. If you set your price too high, you’ll put off interested buyers, but go too low and you will undercut your home’s value.
The best way to inform your decision is by staying up to date with local market conditions. Our free House Prices Tool will help you evaluate the current conditions in your local area.
Your estate agent is always on hand to advise, but ultimately it's you who chooses the final price. We always recommend comparing a few valuations from local estate agents. Valuations from three agents will help you easily see which valuation is an outlier and which are more accurate.
For more information on setting the right price, read our guide, 'What is the right price for my home?'’.
Once you’ve chosen an asking price, it’s time to start marketing your home. Your estate agent will take care of this by uploading your property listing to key websites, such as Rightmove and Zoopla. They will take photos of your home and draw up an accurate floor plan.
Estate agents also provide offline marketing, where they contact buyers interested in properties like yours with information about your home.
Letting strangers into your home for house viewings can be scary and exciting - but this is a key stage in the selling process, and there’s things you can do to maximise your chance of selling.
Make sure you...
For more information, check out our guide, 'How to prepare your house for 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 - this is one of the main responsibilities of your agent, and if you’ve picked one you’re confident with, you should have nothing to worry about!
If you’re unhappy with your agent and want to switch, check out our free agent comparison tool to find the best performing agents near your property.
It takes 2 minutes. 100% free. No obligation.
Remember: Ask your agent to jot down immediate feedback from viewers. This will help you see where your home is performing well and where not so well. There might be something you can do before the next viewing in order to boost your success!
Now your home sale is on track, it’s time to pick a conveyancer.
A conveyancer is a professional trained to deal with the legalities of property transactions. There are two types of conveyancer to choose from:
Conveyancers can either be:
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 conveyancers now offer a ‘fixed fee’ service, where what you pay at the end is the same as what you agreed at the start.
Picking a conveyancer 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 for a conveyancer, the more reliable they’ll be.
Receiving an offer for your property 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.
Read more in our guide, 'Received an offer? What you need to do'.
Around the same time as accepting your offer, you should consider negotiating the contracts of sale. This is an opportunity to get a better price for your property. If you’re looking to get more money, consider:
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 after you have accepted one!
Read more in our guide, 'Received an offer? What you need to do'.
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.
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 of contracts takes place, both parties are legally bound to complete the transaction. If the sale does not take place, the party responsible must pay reparations. In this situation, the 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 be responsible for calling not just the seller’s solicitor, but the solicitors of sellers and buyers across the property chain. This is because everyone in the property chain needs to agree on a single completion date so that all sales can complete at the same time.
For more information and advice on exchanging contracts, please read our guide to ‘Exchange and completion’.
Moving day, at its most basic level, is the day you move all your things to your new property. But usually, a lot more happens on this day.
For more information on moving day, including other possibilities like renting, read our comprehensive blog article, 'Moving Day: Tips for the big day'.
The final day of a property transaction is completion day. It’s on this day that:
Completion day is the day you can finally relax and celebrate your home sale. There’s still some last things to take care of - including paying your agent and conveyancer - but this is what all your hard work has been building towards!
For more information and advice on completion day, please read our guide to ‘Exchange and completion’.
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.
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.
Once these outstanding monies have been paid, your house sale is officially concluded! Put your feet up and pop open some champagne!
From start to finish you can expect the process of selling a house to take 2-3 months. Here is a breakdown of the house selling timeline you should expect:
|Look at the costs of selling a house||1 day||Week 1|
|Decide if its a good time to sell your house||1 day||Week 1|
|Decide if you should rent or buy||1 day||Week 1|
|Pick an estate agent to sell your house||1 - 2 weeks||Week 2|
|Get an EPC||2-3 days||Week 2|
|Get your property valued||1-2 days||Week 2|
|Decide how much to sell your home for||1-2 days||Week 2|
|Put your home on the market/market your home||1 day||Week 2|
|Prepare your home||2-3 days||Week 3|
|Carry out viewings||2-4 weeks||Weeks 3 - 7|
|Pick a conveyancer||1-2 days||Week 8|
|Accept an offer||1-5 days||Week 8|
|Negotiate contracts||1 day||Week 8|
|Exchange contracts||1 day||Week 9|
|Pick a moving day and move out||1 day||Week 9|
|Complete the sale||1 day||On day decided|
|Pay off mortgage||1 day||After completion|
|Pay the conveyancer and estate agent||1 day||After completion|
It goes without saying that if you’re reading this, you are at least interested in selling your home. Whether you’ve found that dream property, or you’re hoping to cash in on your home’s increased value, there are many merits to selling.
Reasons for selling aside, there are a number of considerations you should make before you make the decision to sell:
It could take up to six months to sell your property. While you can never fully prepare for the circumstances of life, it’s good practice to ensure there won’t be any potential problems that will throw a hammer in the works and change your decision. If you do end up changing your mind halfway through the process, it could cost you a lot of money!
Do you have enough money to finance the sale of your property? Moreover, has your property built enough equity? 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.
Most people buy and sell property at the same time. Do you know where you’ll be moving after you sell your home?
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:
For more information, check out our blog 'Sell your house fast'.
If you want to sell your home on your own, you’ll need to overcome a number of challenges. For one thing, the biggest online property portals (Zoopla and Rightmove) do not accept listings from individuals.
There are a number of ways you can work around this. You can distribute leaflets in your local area for instance, or put up a 'for sale' sign and list your property on private listing websites. However, these marketing methods could prove costly, especially if they don’t get you anywhere.
Another thing to consider is how you’ll set an asking price for your property. How estate agents value a property is an art. Underestimating the value of your home will lose you money. On the other hand, overvaluing your property will prevent you from selling it. Buyers will get suspicious if it looks like your home has been on the market for too long.
You can read more about what to do if you don’t use an estate agent in our blog, 'Should I use an estate agent?'.
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.
The total costs for selling a house worth £268,000 (the UK average) are £5000 to £8000. These costs can be higher or lower depending on the final sale price of your property, as well as a number of other factors. For more information, check out our ‘Cost of selling a house’ guide.
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:
But there could be issues with…
You should spend within your budget. There are lots of other costs to selling a home that you should prepare for.
Remember: Every property has a ‘ceiling price’. This is the maximum value it can reach before there’s no longer a return on investment for any additions you add. Knowing your property’s ceiling price goes a long way in helping you decide how much you can spend.
Your ceiling price is a combination of the maximum price any property (of similar size and age) on your street has sold for, and the results of a trusted surveyor's valuation. We have a helpful guide on What not to fix when selling a property
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