How to sell your house

Posted 11 September 2015 by Keith Osborne

Our step-by-step guide to selling your house

Regardless of market conditions, selling your home can be a time-consuming process, with plenty of speed bumps along the way. We can't guarantee everything will go smoothly with your sale, but we can give you some tips to help you on your way. Here's our step-by-step guide to the selling process.

Step One: Valuation

Whether you are selling your home privately or through an agent, the first step is to work out its value. The value of your home depends on a number of variables including local demand for properties and overall market conditions. A surveyor will provide a full underwritten valuation of your property, whilst estate agents will use their awareness of the local market to suggest a saleable asking price.   ​

  • Seek at least three estimates from different estate agents
  • Find out recent sale prices in your area on the Land Registry website
  • For a full independent valuation use a chartered surveyor

Step Two: Preparation

Enhance your Kerb Appeal

First impressions are vital, so tidy, clean and de-clutter your home, making it appear spacious and welcoming to prospective buyers. Add a lick of paint here and there, spend an afternoon tidying up the garden and have the windows cleaned – every little helps
Make your home appeal to a bigger pool of buyers by banishing any smoke or pet odours
Avoid leaving buyers shivering in the hallway by getting the temperature right for viewings
Consider adding a few finishing touches to enhance first impressions, such as a potted plant next to the front door or some cut flowers on the coffee table

Increasing value

Can the value of your property be significantly improved by carrying out some renovations or extensions? Loft insulation, conversions, double glazing and shed replacements are all popular options that could give your home a major boost
Think about what you will be including in the sale. A fully integrated kitchen with modern appliances could add meaningful value to your property

Step Three: Estate agent or private sale?

Despite a significant increase in recent years, private sales still lag well behind those of estate agents. An increasing number of sellers are attracted to the idea of going private due to the potential savings on offer, with standard estate agent fees eating up 1-2.5% of your sale price. Selling privately may suit some sellers, but it can be a complicated and time consuming process, with marketing, viewings and negotiations all the responsibility of the seller.  

Choosing the right estate agent

Whether you’ve been given a recommendation by a friend or have decided to go with the name appearing most regularly outside local homes, you should ask yourself the following questions before appointing an agent.

  • Is your agent knowledgeable, punctual and polite?
  • Is your agent registered with a regulator such as the NAEA or GPEA?
  • How many properties has your agent successfully sold in the area?
  • Does your agent have an easily navigated website and property portal presence?
  • Does your agent use high quality brochures with full floor plans and high resolution images?
  • Do you feel that you can trust your agent to sell your home?

Agreeing a contract with an agent

Estate agent fees vary significantly depending on your property and the contract you sign. Fees tend to range between 1-2% (before VAT) of the selling price for sole agency contracts (where a single agent is given the rights to sell your home) and 1.5%-2.5% (before VAT) for multiple agency contracts. Fees are open to negotiation, but be wary of aiming too low - agents work on commission and a higher fee may offer a greater incentive.

Choosing the right tie-in period is crucial, as changing agents whilst in a contract could leave you liable to paying two sets of fees. There is no set rule, but try to avoid being tied in for longer than 4-6 weeks on a sole agency deal. As with all contracts, read everything carefully and be fully aware of any fees or penalties that may apply.

Tips for selling privately

If you prefer to be in the driving seat and are happy organising marketing, viewings and negotiations yourself, then selling your home privately may be a viable option.  

There is more to selling privately than hammering a ‘for sale’ sign in to your garden, with a range of private sale websites and property portals willing to list your home.  Online estate agents are very popular, and will advertise your homes on property portals for a fixed fee.  Online estate agency fees can range anywhere from £29 for a four week package to in excess of £450 per year, which remains significantly cheaper than paying the fees charged by estate agents.

Selling privately is not for everyone, and the lack of a buyer database, market knowledge and marketing expertise are among the reasons why most sellers still use estate agents.

Step Four: Negotiating a sale  ​

The circumstances of your prospective buyer are as important as the offer itself. Ask the following questions:

  • Is your buyer tied in to a chain? If so, how long is it?
  • Is your buyer paying cash?
  • Does your buyer already have a mortgage agreed in principle?

Buyers will often open with an offer below the asking price, but try not to get disheartened. Speak to your agent and consider your options carefully before responding. Another offer may or may or not be forthcoming, but unless you are desperate for a quick sale don’t be tempted to accept a very low offer.

Once you have accepted an offer, a buyer may request that the property is taken off the market in case a rival makes a higher bid (this is known as gazumping). Whether you agree to this is up to you, as legally you may accept another offer up until contracts have been exchanged.

Step Five: Finalising

The process of transferring the ownership of a property to another person is called conveyancing. This process is complicated, so you must enlist a licensed conveyancer or solicitor. Your agent may encourage you to use a particular conveyancer, but consider sourcing three quotes before rushing in.

If you can, negotiate a no sale – no fee deal. Your conveyancer will request various information such as proof of ID, land boundaries and details of which fixtures and fittings you are including in the sale. Once contracts have been drawn up and agreed with the conveyancer operating on behalf of the buyer, a transfer deed will be prepared for the exchange.

Once contacts have been exchanged, the buyer can no longer pull out of the transaction and a completion date can be set.  


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