Selling my house: what do I need to know?

Selling my house: what do I need to know?

Selling your home can be stressful and complicated, especially if you’re also looking for a new place to move to.

Follow our step-by-step guide to selling your home, which will help prepare for all stages of your house sale.   

If you’re thinking about selling your home, or at the start of the selling process, follow our checklist below to tick off each stage of your house sale.

Get your finances in order

Before you put your home on the market, you’ll want to find out how much it’s worth. Have a look at other houses that have been sold in the last year in your area to get an idea of the price bracket. 

You can get a quick estimation of your house price using Zoopla’s home valuation tool. Alternatively, you can book a free online valuation with an agent.

It’s also important to check if you’re still in your mortgage term, as you may need to pay a fee for moving before your original term is over. You should check your mortgage papers or speak to your lender to see if you will need to pay any early repayment fees. 

Choose an estate agent

The first big step to selling your home is choosing an estate agent. You’ll want to sell with someone well rated, experienced and that matches your budget. 

Research estate agents in your local area to find out how successful they are before selecting one. Things to look out for are how much they charge, how quickly they sell a home and how close they sell to the asking price. There are online tools that allow you to compare local agents based on their past performance, or you could speak to people living in your local area, to find out their recommendations.  

You’ll want to get a number of free valuations from a range of estate agents to understand how much your house could sell for. However, what you decide to sell it for is ultimately up to you. 

Preparing your house for sale

Before you put your house up for sale, give your property some TLC to make it appealing to potential buyers. All homes show some signs of wear and tear, but there are a few things you can do to get your home viewing-ready quickly. 

  • Make the exterior look presentable by tidying up your front garden, mowing the lawn and cleaning the windows and doors. 
  • Instead of making big cosmetic interior changes, a fresh lick of paint and a good clean goes a long way. 
  • If you do want to make any big changes like a new kitchen or bathroom, look into how much value this may add to your property versus the money spent. 

As you prepare for viewings, it’s important to create a space that potential buyers could see themselves living in. So make sure the space is clean and tidy and all of the house's key features are on display and not covered by your belongings. 

Apply for an energy performance certificate

You’ll also need to apply for an energy performance certificate (EPC) before you can put your home on the market. This ranks your home for energy efficiency and must be shared with potential buyers.  

An accredited assessor should inspect your property and provide you with a certificate. You can use the GOV.UK tool to find a qualified assessor in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. 

The cost of an assessment depends on the inspector you choose and the size of your property.

Find a conveyancing solicitor

A conveyancing solicitor will look after the legal side of your home sale. Similarly to an estate agent, you should do some research to find out which are highly rated and get quotes from a few firms, to compare costs. You can find a summary of the average prices for a conveyancing solicitor on our blog, how much does it cost to sell a house

Once you’ve chosen a solicitor, you’ll need to fill in questionnaires to provide potential buyers with information about the property. 

Although it’s a good idea to choose a conveyancing solicitor as early as possible to avoid delays, they’ll begin work once you’ve accepted an offer for your home. 

Accept an offer you’re happy with

Once your house is on the market, you should, fingers crossed, have people come to view your house - usually accompanied by your estate agent - and then begin receiving offers from potential buyers. Your estate agent is legally required to share all offers with you, regardless of the price. 

If you receive an offer that you’re not happy with, you can reject it outright or ask your estate agent to negotiate the price up. 

Once you’ve received an offer you are happy with you need to formally accept it. Accepting an offer is not legally binding, and either party is still able to pull out of the sale. 

Exchange contracts

Before you exchange contracts, there will be some liaising with the buyers and their solicitor to establish timelines and discuss which fittings and furnishings will be included. 

However, once contracts are exchanged the sale becomes legally binding and you are committed, by law, to sell your property to the buyer. 

Completion

The end is in sight, and you’ve reached the final stage of your home sale. On completion day the property finally changes ownership and you hand over the keys to the new owners. Competition day can be busy and stressful if you aren’t prepared. Have a read of our guide to what happens on completion day to find out what to expect. 

If you’ve not already moved out of your property, completion day is your final chance. On completion day, the property needs to be in the condition agreed in the contracts so, if you are able to, it is a good idea to move out before this date to avoid breaching this. 

To complete the sale of your home, you’ll need to pay off the remainder of your mortgage. Once your conveyancing solicitor has received the funds from the buyer, they’ll pay this for you. 

Once your house sale is completed, you’ll need to cover the costs of your conveyancing solicitor and estate agent. 

After completion, you’ve finally sold your house!

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