According to official government data, the number of houses sold in England increased by nearly 24% between 2020 and 2021. But, selling your home can be a huge challenge – all the more so if you’re looking for another home to buy at the same time.
There are many important decisions to make throughout the process of selling a house, and these could save you – or cost you – many thousands of pounds. Therefore, it’s vital that you’ve done your research and are fully informed as you embark on this exciting journey.
So, here’s everything you need to know about how to sell your house. In this guide to the process of selling a house, we’ll outline everything from getting your home valued, the costs of selling, how to find an estate agent and getting the maximum price for your property.
The first step in the process of selling a house is getting a rough idea of how much the property is worth. This is important so that you can calculate how much money will be left over after you’ve paid off the mortgage.
You will need to dig out your mortgage paperwork or speak to your lender to check whether you’ll need to pay any early repayment charges for switching your mortgage to another lender or if it is possible to take it with you to your new property – a process known as porting.
If you’re planning on moving to a more expensive property or your mortgage deal is coming to an end, this is the perfect time to remortgage onto a better deal.
At this early stage of selling your house, the figures will only be approximate given that you don’t know how much you’ll sell your home for. You will get a precise figure for your mortgage once you have an agreed completion date when the exchange of contracts is complete.
Although this is only the first step in the process of selling your house, it is important to be organised and prepared. You should plan every step to avoid anything being held up and allowing you to sell your house fast.
Before you embark on the process of selling your house, it is crucial that you consider whether you might be better off renting rather than buying straightaway.
Although renting for a while can add to the overall cost of selling a house, it will massively reduce the critical time pressures in buying a new home.
Another benefit of renting before you buy your next home is that you won’t have to compromise on your sale price, potentially causing you to sell your house for less. This is because you won’t be under any pressure to complete on your onward purchase.
As well as avoiding the pressure of selling your house, you won’t be rushed into purchasing a less-than-perfect new home as you’ll already have found a buyer for your current property.
Finally, you will appear more attractive to other sellers as renting will break you out of the housing chain, helping the sale of their house go quicker.
However, renting isn’t for everyone, and if you’ve already found your ideal new home then you shouldn’t wait around for it to get snapped up by someone else.
There are a number of options when it comes to selling your house:
If you have the time, are organised, patient and willing to put in the hard work, then axing the estate agent and selling your home yourself can save you a substantial amount of money. But beware – it’s not for the fainthearted.
Given that the majority of the costs associated with selling your house are from estate agent fees, it is unsurprising that some people consider this as an option.
However, selling your house without an estate agent means managing all your own advertising and conducting your own viewings. This requires a whole lot of time and effort.
So, if you’re short on time or would rather avoid the hassle of selling your home privately, it might be better to stick with the traditional route of an estate agent.
If you decide on the most common option of selling your house with a local estate agent, you will need to do some research into which one is best for you.
You should compare local estate agents based on how quickly they can sell, how close they come to asking price and how successful they are.
So, how much do estate agents charge? Well, you will need to agree selling house fees with the estate agents themselves. You should aim for 1% plus VAT as this is often the best deal you will get to sell your house.
For those wanting to sell their house on a budget, online estate agents provide a very affordable option. But it’s always worth reviewing what exactly they can offer and whether you’re willing to sacrifice the quality of a local estate agent for the lower estate agent fees.
The next step in the process of selling a house is getting an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This is a standardised document which ranks properties in terms of energy efficiency, from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient).
This document is valid for 10 years and contains:
Homeowners need to provide an EPC to potential buyers when they sell their home. In fact, before you’ve even put your house on the market, you should have applied for an EPC.
If your house doesn’t have a valid EPC, you’ll need to find an accredited assessor to assess your property and produce the required document.
Here’s the step in the house buying process we’ve all been waiting for – deciding on the sale price of your house!
This is one of the most agonising decisions when selling your home and, probably the most important. You don’t want to go too low and miss out on more money, but you don’t want to go too high and miss out on potential buyers.
Therefore, it is essential that you do your research and familiarise yourself with the local housing market. Look at what similar properties have sold for in your area to determine a suitable selling price.
Make sure you also get multiple different estate agents to come value your house so you can get a better idea of what you should expect to sell it at.
However, don’t necessarily go for the highest valuation – if you think it seems too high, you might end up having to lower it later anyway and prolonging the process of selling your home.
Although, you should bear in mind that buyers will likely try to negotiate a discount. Therefore, it is a good idea to add 5-10% on top of what you’re prepared to accept.
When you’re selling your house, you want to do everything you can to show buyers its potential. You want to help them picture themselves living in your home so that they not only want to buy it, but are willing to put in a higher offer.
Here are our top tips for preparing your house for sale:
If your house is properly prepared for viewings, you are not only more likely to sell it faster, but you might make it more valuable too.
The next step in this guide to how to sell your house is hiring a conveyancer. You will need to choose a conveyancing solicitor to handle the legal work involved in selling your home.
To ensure you can sell your house fast, you should try to decide which conveyancing firm you want to use before you agree to to the sale of your property. However, you can only instruct them after you’ve agreed an offer.
When looking for a conveyancer for the sale of your house, make sure you do your homework and compare different firms to get the best deal. Most estate agents will recommend a conveyancing firm but beware of the hefty referral fee which is usually added to your house selling fees.
The next step in the house selling process, before you exchange contracts, involves completing a number of detailed questionnaires about the property and the sale.
The questionnaires you will be asked to complete when selling your home will be provided to you by your solicitor and could include:
As the seller, you must fill these forms out truthfully and to the best of your knowledge. If there is a mistake on these forms before exchange of contracts, it could make your buyers nervous that you’re purposely misleading them.
If you’ve made it to this step in the process of selling your house, then you’ve received an offer – congratulations!
Receiving offers on your house can be a very exciting time, but it’s important that you remain level-headed to ensure you accept the right offer for you.
It’s normal practice for buyers to offer 5-10% less than the advertised asking price so don’t be discouraged if initial offers are a little low.
It’s also good to be patient when receiving house offers – there’s no need to accept or reject an offer straightaway. It’s perfectly fine to think things over for a couple of days.
After receiving an offer from a buyer, it is a good idea to ask your estate agent what the buyer’s position is before making any decisions. There are a number of factors to keep in mind when deciding who to sell your house to:
If you do accept an offer, it is usually ‘subject to contract’. This means that as long as the house survey doesn’t identify any issues, the buyer will most likely complete the sale. Offers will also only be made official when your estate agent can prove that the buyer has the finances to purchase the property.
An accepted offer is not legally binding until contracts have been exchanged. As a result, the buyer is in their right to back out of the sale at any time up until this point.
This is also the case for the seller, who can change their mind or accept a higher offer later (gazumping) – but this can be distressing to the buyer so it’s not a very moral thing to do.
At this point in selling your house, you and the buyer will need to negotiate the draft contract. The draft contract is the first contract your solicitor will draw up for your property transaction and covers basic information about the prospective sale, such as the price, deposit, and any relevant details from the title deeds.
This is different to the final contract because there are many more hurdles throughout the process of selling a house that could shape the eventual agreement. For example:
Once the draft contract has been negotiated between the solicitors, you’ll be sent a copy to check over. When any issues have been resolved and the final terms have been agreed upon, you’re ready to exchange contracts.
Exchange of contracts sounds simple enough, but there’s a little more to this part of the property sale than you might expect. When you exchange contracts with the buyer, you become legally committed to selling the property – and they are legally committed to buying it from you.
If either the buyer or seller decide to pull out after the exchange of contracts, they will likely be liable for severe penalties to compensate the other party. This happens very rarely though, so once the contracts have been exchanged everyone can breathe a sigh of relief.
Usually, exchange of contracts will take place anywhere between one to four weeks prior to the completion date. However, it is possible to exchange contracts and complete on the same day – but this is not recommended.
With the exchange of your property complete and a completion date set, it’s time to get excited about moving home.
You can move out of the house you’re selling whenever you want, including on the day of completion. However, it is less stressful to move out in advance of completion day if possible.
At the time of completion, the property must be in the condition agreed in the contract, including all the fixtures and fittings. The buyer and their estate agent can even come round between you moving out and completion to ensure everything is as it should be.
The final step in the process of selling a house is completion!
Completion day is when ownership is transferred from seller to buyer, the buyer gets the keys to move in and the seller moves out.
Completion typically takes place on a weekday, with a target move out time of 12pm. Your solicitor will liaise with the seller’s conveyancer to arrange the completion date which will be agreed upon by all parties.
There are a number of additional tasks that your solicitor will need to complete for completion day to go ahead:
Once all the final checks have been made by the solicitors on both sides, the buyer’s solicitor will transfer the money to the seller’s solicitor. The seller’s solicitor will then confirm receipt of the funds and confirm completion with the buyer. The buyer can now collect the keys to their new house from the estate agent.
Now you’ve fully completed the process of selling a house, it’s almost time to sit back and relax.
However, there are a few additional tasks you need to complete before you can put the house selling process behind you.
Now you’ve finally completed the process of selling your house, you need to settle up with the conveyancing solicitor and estate agent.
Following completion, your conveyancing solicitor will send you an account, covering all their costs and disbursements, as well as the sale price of the property and redemption of the mortgage.
If you’re buying and selling at the same time, the solicitor can settle up for both transactions at the same time, including paying stamp duty for the house you’re purchasing.
Finally, your conveyancer will ensure that the change of ownership is registered with the Land Registry.
And that’s it! Congratulations – you’ve just successfully sold your house. While the house selling process may seem like a lot of hassle, if you follow this step-by-step guide to selling your house, it should run smoothly.
Use these tips for selling your home to smash the process out of the park – find the best estate agents, prepare your house to a ‘t’ and get the best offers. Once you’ve done all the hard work, you can sit back, relax and enjoy settling into your new home.
Now you’ve sold your house and moved into a new home or rented accommodation, you will need to update your address across all your accounts.
To speed up this process, you can use SlothMove’s online change of address service which allows you to update your details across all your providers in one go – from the DVLA, the National Lottery, your Passport, Vodafone, RSPCA and many more.
To start changing your address after selling your house, simply fill in the form below:
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