Fast House Sale Advice

What's it worth?

Whatever the reasons for selling your home, there's one thing you need to know up-front if you want a quick sale: “How much can you realistically achieve in the current market?”

There are several ways you can find this out.

To get a rough idea, do some research of your own. Check out similar properties for sale in your area and see how much they're going for by checking the estate agent listing, this will give you a guide price.

You can also check on the Land Registry website for data in your area including the date of sale, and the final price this won’t give any details about the property's condition or the size of its rooms - so again, only use this information to get a rough idea. Prices are affected by many things, including: size of accommodation,
local amenities and presentation.

The best way to get an accurate value for your home is to contact at least three local estate agents for a free valuation.

A good estate agent will come and inspect your home in detail, looking from a buyer's perspective for pitfalls and attributes. This will give them a clear idea not just of the property's value but its saleability. By inspecting the property in person, your agent will be able to spot any features that complement current trends and can add further value. They'll also be able to develop an effective marketing plan.

Estate agents will use their existing knowledge from the sale of properties in your area to compare against your home as a measure of value. Ask them to explain how much they think your home will sell for in relation to these properties and ask why. Remember that while two homes may look the same from the outside, any updates to the interior might have increased or even decreased their relative value.

Your agent should explain how the area you live in affects the value of your home, as well as the type of buyer likely to be attracted. Make sure you ask them how they plan to market to these buyers and don't be afraid to ask what makes their agency different to others in your area.

Agents use a wide range of marketing tools to sell a property. These include: the internet, local newspapers, window displays, attractive photography, mailing lists, and often a national network of offices that gives your home the widest publicity. The rise of the internet in the past fifteen years enables estate upload your home to the property portals such as Zoopla and Right Move.   

Choosing Your Estate Agent   

Speak to friends and family for recommendations and check for sold signs in your area, which agent has the most sold signs up. Ask each agent for a written quote of their fees and be very clear on the type of agreement that the fee structure covers. Remember that the estate agents commission (usually a percentage of the sales price) will be subject to VAT at the prevailing rate, currently 20%.

There are three basic types of agency arrangement to instruct your agent.

A “sole agency contract” means you instruct only one agency to sell your house. As they are then the only agent who can market your property, they will charge you a lower rate of commission. With a sole agency agreement, check the period of time you will be tied in for.

A “joint sole agency” arrangement may be preferable if you live on the borders of two different towns - both for which may have agents that cover your area. By instructing agencies in each town, you cover all your options. Joint agency fees are generally higher than in sole agency, however you will only pay one fee and the agents will split this between them, again check the period you will be tied into this agreement for.

Finally there's the “multiple agency” option, where you appoint as many agents as you wish to market your property. Here you will find fees are at their highest. A multiple agency arrangement can sometimes lead to over-exposure, with your home appearing several times on the same property website - a turn-off for some buyers.

Another option is to sell your property yourself with a considerable saving. Check on line for web based own sell portals where you upload the details of your property for a fee , chose a website which will in turn upload your home to the property portals such as Right Move and Zoopla to ensure maximum exposure .

Remember that you will have to make appointments and viewings and progress the sale of your property yourself and you will not have the comfort of knowing anything about potential buyers so find out as much as possible about their circumstances before making appointments to view . Ensure that you do not do viewings of your home alone.

As you can see, there are pros and cons in each case. The best option depends on your circumstances but you could try looking for a single agent with offices in more than one town, or a group of independent agents working in partnership. This could mean the widest possible coverage but for a sole agency fee.

Getting Your Home Ready For Sale

Your estate agent will help you here, ask them for their advice in how to stage your home for sale, don’t take offence at their suggestions, you don’t want to live in your home anymore so detach yourself from it!
•    Tidy up , de- clutter  and remove excess furniture so your home looks more spacious  
•    Clean up and always ensure that bathrooms , kitchens and windows  are sparkling
•    Get rid of rubbish
•    Repair all those little things that you have got used to but prospective buyers will notice immediately
•    Define space, make sure the dining area is obvious, same with study areas, and ensure that all bedrooms have a bed so the buyer can clearly see it will hold a bed.
•    Buy new bedding , ( white is best) which you can take to your new home and stage your bed with an accent colour throw
•    Decide whether a coat of paint will enhance your home particularly if you have strong colours , make your home a blank canvas so buyers can emotionally move in
•    Pay attention to the outside both front and back. Make sure you have kerbside appeal you don’t want buyers to take a look from the outside and decide not to even come in. Mow the grass clear the rubbish plant some tubs and make sure the front door is freshly painted and that the doorbell works
•    Define a dining area in the garden with a table, chairs and a barbeque , so buyers can imagine themselves lounging on a summers evening with chilled wine
•    Keep a check on animals and children  , don’t let their toys spread out while you are trying to sell
•    Be sure to know the catchments areas of local schools, even if you've no children, since the next family may have and it's a consideration sure to be on their mind. Be ready to give information on local transport links and the benefits of local shops and other important amenities
•    Make sure your home smells super fresh , use the age old trick of putting a loaf of bread in the oven when visitors call

Appointing a Solicitor or Conveyancer

The legal work involved in buying and selling homes is called “Conveyancing”. You can either chose a solicitor for this work or a licensed conveyancer who must be licensed by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers. Your estate agent will no doubt refer you to their “chosen “  solicitor to use (they will be passed a “referral” fee from the solicitor for doing this!) but of course recommendation from friends and family who have used their services is likely to be the best guide, alternatively consult the Law Society and local publications. Whoever you chose will be able progress both the sale of your old and purchase of your new home.

Always obtain written quotes for both the sale and purchase before instructing the work you will feel most confident with a fixed fee, and if available, on a no-move-no-fee basis - this makes budgeting easier for you and means the solicitor is motivated to complete the sale.

There are three stages in the Conveyancing process;

•    Draft contract stage, you are not obligated at this point and negotiations still continue. Either party can terminate procedures at any time before the signing the contracts.

•    Exchange of contracts, at this point the negotiations is complete and the contracts are signed, your buyer will hand over their non refundable deposit and given the mortgage deed to sign. Once contracts are signed and exchanged both parties are legally bound to complete the transaction when are contracts actually exchanged? Most commonly in the month prior to finalising the deal. It is known to happen on the day of transaction but you don't want the other party making additional, last-minute demands that could see the whole affair go sour. Completion day contracts can be done and can be successful but bear in mind that if anything does go wrong you have little-to-no time to remedy the situation.

•    Completion, your solicitor will notify you upon receipt of funds and the sale of your home is finished. Time to move out  taking all your possessions with you and leave your keys with the estate agent

Coordinating Your Sale

When selling it is essential to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for your home. This entails arranging for a qualified Domestic Energy Assessor to come to your property and calculate its energy efficiency. Many estate agents now offer this service for you as part of your contract but it's your responsibility to check if this is the case and, if not, arrange an assessor yourself.

An estate agent's job shouldn't end with finding a buyer. Before you commit to an agent ask what they can do for you after the sale is agreed. A good agent will continue to talk to all parties involved after transaction on a regular basis - this includes other estate agents in the chain as well as solicitors and mortgage brokers. This not only helps move the transaction along but can also highlight and solve any potential problems and is a proven way to maximise your chances of a smooth completion. Regular updates from your agent can help both buyers and sellers understand the process and provide piece of mind.

The Run-up to Moving Day

When the time to exchange contracts draws near, ask your agent for advice on removal services. After the exchange of contracts comes the completion date, for your move.  At this point you should also contact your utility and phone companies and local authority to let them know you're vacating the premises.

Moving day tends to be around 12 weeks after a sale is first agreed. However, transaction times can vary depending on how many properties are in your chain. Unforeseen changes in the buyer's financial arrangements, potential legal delays, and holidays can all potentially alter the move-in date, meaning it's important to have a plan of action in case of delay.

Completion normally takes place by noon of the appointed day, although this does tend to vary if there are several properties in the chain. No estate agent should release the keys to your property until all the agreed money has been received. Keep in close touch with your agent and solicitor, who can both monitor and ensure that everything happens on time.

Let's go through the main points you should consider when organising your moving day:

•    You needn't necessarily use the services of a removal company: If you're moving a relatively short distance and have a vehicle suitable for your goods then it will be less costly to do it yourself. Exercise caution with valuable items as you will not be covered for dropping them. There may be some larger goods that do require the help of a removal team, but doing most of the job yourself can save you a pretty penny.

•    Arrange to switch over services immediately: We're talking here about phone companies, internet service providers, your doctor and dentist, the local council, and any other organisation that must be aware of your address for essential correspondence. Given that it can take a few weeks to switch over telephone and broadband services, it's worthwhile telephoning these firms one or two weeks in advance to inform them of your forthcoming move.

•    Where are the keys? Make sure you know where the keys for the new property will be on the day you move. They are most commonly available from your agent or solicitor but the date can vary. Seek clarification on when the keys will be yours and exactly who will be handing them to you.

•    Logistic concerns: If you've booked a lorry for the move, take a look at your new property using an online map and pinpoint entrances to the premises for large vehicles. You do not want to find that the removal truck cannot get through the small, rustic gate at the bottom of your new, picturesque, but very narrow country lane. Additionally, check that any vehicles involved in the move won't be blocking access to next door's drive-way or sitting on street-level disabled markings.
•    Pack properly: This is a bigger clean up than the last time you invited everyone back to yours for a house-party - but it has to be done. Don't pack on the basis of which goods will fit inside the boxes you have available, instead think about where the items are going - that way you're not going to end up with a tumble dryer far away from the kitchen and needing pushed into its new place.

•    Take essential supplies: You're moving in to a new house amidst a sea of boxes and, for some readers, the tantrums of young children. You would be forgiven for not being able to find the kettle, the cutlery, or a baby's milk bottle amongst years of collected items. Rather than rushing out to buy these items again, have a pre-packed essentials box with food, drinks, phone chargers, children's toys, and anything else needed for the days during which the move from 'property' to 'home' isn't quite complete.

So remember, moving house is about planning and foresight. Keep your wits about you, talk regularly to all parties involved, read all small-print, move property in an organised way, and look forward to a smooth transition into your new home.

Additional Information:

Common Residential Property Problems And How To Solve Them

Selling A Residential Leasehold Property

What to Do When Good House Sales Turn Bad

What To Do If A Buyers Valuation Or Structural Survey Highlights Problems With Your House

Tips For Selling a House With Tenants

What To Do If Your House Will Not Sell

Common Problems That Can Make Your House Difficult To Sell

House Selling Tips From Master Estate Agents

If Your House Isnt Selling Should You Change Your Estate Agent?

Alternative Ways To Sell Your House

See Your Property Through The Eyes Of A Prospective Homebuyer

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