Step-By-Step Guide to the Process of Selling a House

Top Tips for Selling Your Home

process of selling a house

How to Sell Your House

how to sell your house

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.

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Step 1: Figure out Your Finances

how remortgaging works

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 redemption (amount outstanding) figure for your mortgage once you have an agreed completion date once 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.

Step 2: Should You Rent or Buy Next?

house selling process

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.

Step 3: Choose an Estate Agent to Sell Your House

process of selling a house

There are a number of options when it comes to selling your house:

  • Sell your home yourself 
  • Use a local estate agent 
  • Use an online estate agent 

Can I Sell My House Privately? 

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. 

How to Choose an Estate Agent? 

If you decide 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. 

Step 4: Get an Energy Performance Certificate

house selling process

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: 

  • Information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs 
  • Recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money

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.

Step 5: Decide How Much to Sell Your House For

remortgage guide

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.

Step 6: Prepare Your Home for Sale

completion day problems

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: 

  1. Declutter – buyers can find it difficult to see past heaps of clutter and it can make rooms feel smaller. It might be worth renting some external storage space to house your belongings until you move or getting rid of them completely.
  2. Repaint – consider whether some areas need a new lick of paint. Don’t go overboard though – it’s good to show your home has some character. 
  3. Tidy up the exterior – first impressions count and the first thing buyers see is the outside of the property. Tidy up the garden or driveway, clean windows and repaint the front door. 
  4. Quick fixes – it’s easy to overlook the small repairs need in your home when you see them everyday, but they can make a place look tired when being seen for the first time. 
  5. Clean everything – there is nothing more off-putting than a dirty house to buyers so make sure everything is shiny and spotless. 

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.

Step 7: Hire a Conveyancing Solicitor

how to get a first time buyer mortgage

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.

Step 8: Fill Out the Questionnaires

first time buyer mortgage

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: 

  • The (TA 6) is a general questionnaire and includes information on boundaries, disputes and complaints, known proposed developments, building works, council tax, utilities, sewerage and contact details. 
  • If you don’t own the freehold, you should also give information on the leasehold (TA 7) or the commonhold (TA 9)
  • The (TA 10) provides details of which fittings and fixtures you’d like to include with the property
  • The (TA 13) includes finalisation details, including arrangements to hand over the keys, how and where you will complete, and ensuring that the house is free of all mortgages and liability claims

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.

Step 9: Accept an Offer

process of selling a house

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: 

  • Whether the buyer is in a chain 
  • What the buyer’s timescales are for moving
  • Your own position 

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.

Step 10: Negotiate the Draft Contract

remortgage guide

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: 

  • The solicitor’s searches could reveal issues, such as environmental dangers to the property
  • The HomeBuyer survey could highlight defects with the property
  • The mortgage agreement might not be approved
  • The buyer might reduce their offer before the exchange of contracts 

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, you’re ready to exchange contracts.

Step 11: Exchange of Contracts

making an offer on a house

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.

Step 12: Move out

what to do on completion day

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. 

Step 13: Complete the Sale

completion day

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 by all parties. 

There are a number of additional tasks that your solicitor will need to complete for completion day to go ahead: 

  • Ensure the buyer’s mortgage conditions have been satisfied and request the money from the lender 
  • Request a Redemption Certificate calculated to the day of completion of there’s a mortgage to sell
  • Create completion statements to set out all payments made and received
  • Request any outstanding statements to be made, including the seller’s estate agent fees 

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.

What to Do After Selling Your House

first time buyer isas

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. 

Pay the Final Selling Fees

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.

Change Your Address

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: 

Enter address manually

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