Guide to Selling Your Home
We recognise that selling a property can be stressful. Our step-by-step guide to selling has been designed to take you through the many points for consideration during a sale, from choice of agent, all the way through to completion.
Choosing an agent:
It is advisable to ask a minimum of 3 agents to provide a valuation on your home. Try to choose both independent agents and corporate agents. A typical valuation will take approximately 30-60 minutes. You may notice that values provided by agents differ. It is important to do your own research on the market in current conditions. You should be guided by the final sale prices of other properties in the area rather than by the asking prices, as asking prices can be set at anything a vendor sees fit. It is important that the property is priced realistically in order to achieve the highest selling price. Asking prices set above market value can conversely negatively impact the final price achieved.
It is important to ask the agent the following questions:
- What is their contract length and notice period?
- What are their fees?
- What is their strategy for selling the property?
It is important that you are have a mutual understanding and rapport with your chosen agent-as it is likely that you will be in regular contact with them over the upcoming months.
Choosing your solicitor:
We would advise you to pick a reputable solicitor with positive client feedback. If you are selling in London, it is advisable to use a London-based solicitor. This is particularly the case if you are considering selling a leasehold property as they will be more au fait with London leases.Transactions in London also tend to move much faster than elsewhere in the country! It is important to ensure that your solicitor is working at a comparable speed to you and the rest of the chain, as dyssynchrony in this regard can compromise the purchase of the property. Any set timescales should be adhered to and worked towards. The conveyancing process is one of the more arduous tasks in a transaction and often can be a sticking point for a sale to progress. A reputable solicitor is worth investing in, to give you the highest chance of seeing the selling process through to completion.
Although, strictly speaking, a solicitor’s work begins once you have found a buyer, it is worth liaising with a solicitor and having someone in place as early in the process as possible. This gives you time to provide them with the required (sometimes copious) documentation required, early on in the process. Often if it is left too close to the point where an offer is accepted. If you are selling a leasehold property, it is helpful to order a management pack from the freeholder prior to finding a buyer. This can take some weeks to arrive and is required by the solicitor. Give yourself that seller’s advantage by having all your paperwork in place at the time the offer is accepted!
This is an exciting time! The property is on the market and viewings will be starting shortly. It is important to ensure that the property is tidy and well presented for viewings, so that it can be shown in the best possible light. We personally recommend that the owner is not present on viewings. The owner’s presence can unnerve buyers, shorten the viewing time and impact the honesty of buyers’ feedback. Buyers need time and space to make informed decisions on whether to proceed with any further interest, so it is important to allow the agent adequate time and access for viewings.
You now have an offer on the table. It is important that your agent is aware of the buyer’s position; including their financial situation and any potential financiers (parents, inheritance etc.) A buyer should also be financially qualified by an independent financial broker if they require a mortgage. This is to make sure they can afford the amount they are offering.
It is important to be clear on the following points:
- What are the buyers’ ideal timescales? If you are in a chain, there may need to be some negotiation on what is expected of them.
- What is their level of deposit?
- Are they having an independent survey on top of the mortgage survey?
- If they are selling a property, how far along are they with the sale? Is their part of the chain complete? They will need to provide the chain details so that your agent can verify this.
- If they are funded by a third party (e.g. parents), have that third party viewed the property? This is very important so as not to get weeks into the sale, for a third party to reject the purchase.
It is not always the case that cash buyers are preferable over buyers requiring a mortgage. Cash buyers have less financial commitment throughout the conveyancing process (e.g. with items such as mortgage surveys). A buyer with a good-size deposit may be just as good a candidate- they will have had to pay for surveys and will therefore be more committed to the sale process. A cash buyer may be preferable in a situation in which you have achieved a price above market value. In this situation, a bank may choose not to lend the required amount to a buyer with a mortgage.
Once the offer has been accepted, the process of conveyancing begins. The agent will act as your advocate and will liaise with both parties’ solicitors, ensuring that work is being completed in a timely fashion and relevant questions and queries are addressed.
During this part of the sale, it is important to ensure that the agent instructs the buyer on the following points:
- The buyer should instruct their solicitor
- They need to progress their mortgage agreement in principle to a formal mortgage application. It is important to get the mortgage survey
- They need to ensure that the mortgage survey and independent survey have been booked in within a reasonable timescale (approximately 10 working days.)
Exchange and Completion:
Once all enquiries have been answered, deposits will be sent to solicitors and a completion date will be agreed. Your solicitor will call you for permission to exchange contracts. This will mean the deal and sale are legally binding. Then it is just a case of waiting for the completion day to come!
Gazumping – When a buyer tries to offer more than the amount currently accepted from your chosen buyer. This is generally frowned upon, but all offers must be put forward up until contracts are exchanged.
EPC – Energy performance certificate. This is needed by law before your property can go onto the market. It is valid for 10 years and often there is already one in place if you bought post 2010. You can check on the national database www.epcregister.com
Homebuyers report – This is the report provided to the buyer if they are having an independent survey. It is most commonly undertaken on flats. House buyers will have a more detailed structural survey carried out.
Mortgage offer – Once your buyer has had a satisfactory mortgage survey carried out, the bank will send out a document to the client to let them know how much they are willing to lend on the property. This needs to be in place before exchange of contracts can take place.