The most important step is to establish why you are selling. It may be for negative or positive reasons but you need to think about your expectations. Do you need to sell quickly? Do you need to achieve a certain amount to make it viable? Do you need to move to a new area by a certain deadline?
Establishing the main reasons will help your estate agent to manage your expectations.
No, not really but there are perceived seasonal times that are deemed to be busier, ie at the start of the New Year, Easter leading up to the Summer Holidays and then the period of September and October. But following these trends could be a mistake. For example a new home coming to the market in November could receive a higher demand and have very little opposing competition as many people would have made a decision to wait until the start of the New Year when there will be a sudden influx of properties competing for the same buyer which could result in a lower selling price. We acknowledge that there are usually fewer people out viewing in the lead up to Christmas but these people are generally high quality purchasers who will buy a house. Ultimately the time that a house sale is agreed is solely dependent on the property and not the time of year. A house, good or bad, priced sensibly will always sell; whereas a unrealistically priced house could sit on the market through the perceived good and bad periods.
Any good estate agent that you invite out for a valuation will be able to give you an indication of the market and what type of properties are in demand. Find out more about the valuation process
There will most likely be many estate agents in your area; ask your friends and family for recommendations.
Research: Look at your local newspaper, Google “Estate Agents in your area” and look at their websites. Is it a good source of information? Do they seem to cater to your type of property? Do they have a good available stock of properties?
Decide who to call. You don’t need to tell them that you are looking for a valuation. How do they answer the phone? Do they sound pleasant? Ask them questions. Do they sound knowledgeable? Would you be happy to invite this person in to your home?
Drive past their office. Does it look modern? Would you go in there if you were looking for a property? Are their displays clear and inviting?
Many people tend to invite out more than one estate agent. If you can narrow it down to just a few it will save you time in the long run.
Remember: whilst an Estate Agent must be a fountain of knowledge and be able to guide you through the selling process, you must also consider potential buyers. Take yourself out of your shoes and put yourself in a potential buyer situation; those are the people going to be buying your home and an Estate Agent must attract them, too.
A good valuation will give you a good idea as to whether it is financially or physically viable for you to move or whether you even want to enter the process. You may consider staying and improving your home to meet your needs.
Every Estate Agent has a different approach to a valuation. Read our property valuation page to see how we conduct ours.
The estate agent will need to visit the property to value it and decide on an asking price with you. You may wish to ask more than one estate agent to call and value your property. It is also advisable for you to check the price that the estate agent suggests by comparing it to similar houses in the area. A good agent will provide all comparable evidence and information for you and indeed will be able to provide details of similar properties that they have sold in your area.
Generally, what someone looks for in an Estate Agent is:
When choosing an agent all of the above should be taken into consideration and you should not make a decision based wholly on the highest valuation. A good agent will provide you with enough information for you to make an informed decision as to what you feel your house is truly worth. Be wary of agents valuing high to try to secure your business.
Most estate agents operate on no sale, no fee basis.
At the valuation stage they will agree the fee. You should also be advised as to what is included within their fee, ie newspaper adverts and marketing, internet sites, accompanied viewings, opening hours, etc, to make sure this meets your expectations. Fees are usually charged at an agreed fixed rate or as a percentage, usually of the final selling price, plus VAT.
Occasionally, depending on the property, it may need to be advertised outside the usual remits of the estate agents fee, which they will tell you before proceeding with extra marketing. This usually applies to niche properties.
Remember the old adage: You get what you pay for.
There are three types of agreements you can have with an estate agent.
Sole Agency: you agree to use only one agent to market your property; this means that this estate agent has exclusive rights to sell your property. The contract will detail all of the terms and conditions. Usually, they are for a specific period of time.
Multiple Agency: If you appoint more than one estate agents on a ‘multiple agency’ basis, only the estate agent who sells the property will be entitled to the commission. The rate of commission is usually higher than for a sole agency.
Joint Agency: you appoint two estate agents to act together in selling your property. A joint sole agency contract is where the estate agents involved share the commission when the property is sold regardless of which estate agent actually finds the buyer. The commission is usually higher for this type of arrangement.
Your estate agent will be able to advise you on what they need to market your property.
One of the legal requirements for selling a property is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC.) An EPC gives information on the energy efficiency of a property using A to G ratings, with A being the most energy efficient and G the least efficient. A certificate is valid for ten years and can be used multiple times during this period. An estate agent must try to ensure that a certificate is available within 7 days of the property first being put on the market. All sales advertisements for properties, for example, on the internet, in newspapers and magazines, or written material about the property, should show the EPC rating.
To comply with the Money Laundering Regulations Order 2004 you will also need to provide photographic proof of ID and a second form of identification to confirm your identity and connection with the property, ie utility bill
A good estate agent will give you detailed advice on what may need to be done to present your property in its best light. (You may not need to do anything.)
These are an example of some of the things that are important:
First impressions are important!
Buyers are inquisitive and very often, they will drive past your house to get an idea if they want to view the property, make sure that outside is presented in its best light throughout the selling process.
In preparation for viewings your estate agent should have given you advice on how to present your home.
Your estate agent will ring you to discuss a suitable viewing appointment time.
When your viewer gets to the property they should be accompanied by the estate agent’s representative. Ideally you should have vacated for the duration of the viewing. If not, try not to be involved and follow them throughout your home – it may put them off. The estate agent should know enough about your property to explain different features, if they don’t they can ask you at the end of the viewing.
The role of the estate agent is to follow up that viewing and deliver any constructive feedback that might help with the selling process.
As soon as an offer is received the estate agent will notify you both verbally and in writing. Any special conditions of the offer will also be stated in writing and the estate agent should check the buyer’s ability to proceed before you decide whether to accept the offer.
Time is important at the offer stage. Try not to delay too long (ideally within 24 hours) in responding to an offer as the buyer may lose interest and question your commitment to selling. If the offer is below your expectations consider why they have offered this lower price– they might be just testing the boundaries, establish those boundaries through the estate agent and make it clear what is included in the house price.
Be aware of your position in the market place. If your property has been on the market for two days and you have an attractive property in a popular area, you may want to hold out for a better offer.
When you accept an offer is it usual for the purchaser to request that the house is taken off the market as they will then start to incur fees involved with purchasing. Legally the estate agent must tell you of any further offers right up to the point of exchange of contracts.
Ultimately, you must work out what you want from selling your property. Do you need a certain amount to buy another home? Will you make enough money to cover legal fees? Will this buyer enable you to move quickly?
Once you accept an offer an estate agent will do the following:
Your solicitor will then send you a sellers pack which they will require you to complete and return to them. This pack will include terms of engagement, property information forms, fixtures and fittings list and any other information they require. As soon as this paperwork is returned to your solicitor they will then be able to commence proceedings to send out a draft contract to the buyer’s solicitors.
A good estate agent will advise you and negotiate on your behalf throughout this process, keeping you informed every step of the way.
There are no legal obligations until contracts are signed and exchanged.
When you have accepted an offer you, or the estate agent, need to inform whoever is doing the legal work. You can do the legal work yourself although this can be complicated and we would advise against it, or you could:-
Ask your friends, family and estate agent for recommendations.
Most firms of solicitors offer a conveyancing service. Although all solicitors can legally do conveyancing, it is advisable to choose a solicitor who has experience of this work.
You can use a licensed conveyancer to do your conveyancing. Licensed conveyancers are not solicitors but are licensed by the Council of Licensed Conveyancers.
If you want to find out if a local conveyancer is licensed you can write to the Council of Licensed Conveyancers.
Remember: the successful sale of your property can be reliant on the instruction of an efficient and experienced solicitor.
There are a couple of things that you will need to consider when it comes to your mortgage.
You may incur early repayment fees if you are on a current mortgage deal which involved discounts or fixed interest rates. Occasionally, you may be able to persuade them to waive the fee, especially if you intend to take out a new mortgage with them.
If you are re-mortgaging with a new lender your old lender could charge you a standard redemption fee to vacate your old mortgage and transfer the deeds.
Work with your lender or instruct a mortgage broker to act on your behalf. Read more about mortgages from our mortgage broker partner, Affinity
On-going maintenance of your home should have gone some way to prevent problems occuring on a surveyor’s report.
It is likely your buyer will require or request a survey of your property. Surveys are usually one of three levels, mortgage valuation, home buyers report or full structural survey. The level of survey will dictate how much time the surveyor spends at your property and how much detail they go into. In each case they will state their valuation of the property, which may differ from the sale price. If any problems are highlighted or there is a question against its value, your estate agent should advise you of the best course of action and will act as a mediator. The estate agent should be able to provide comparable evidence with regard to down valuation of property.
Upon exchange of contracts, and before completion, the buyer may wish to visit the house, for example, to measure up for carpets or to get an estimate for building work. However, you should not allow any work to be done by the buyer before completion.
You should inform your utility companies that you are leaving and ask for final readings to be made of the meters on the day of completion. It is also a good idea to inform the council so they might calculate your outstanding amount or rebate for council tax.
Once the contracts has been signed by both parties the deposit (usually 10% of the purchase price) will be telegraphically transferred or paid in the form of a banker’s draft by the buyer’s solicitor to your solicitor. The completion date is then set by mutual agreement.
Completion is when the residual monies (usually 90%) are transferred from the buyer’s solicitor to your solicitor’s account.