The process of putting a house on the market

Selling a home can often be a difficult and lengthy process, so it is important to make things easier for yourself by preparing your home before it goes on the market

The process of putting a house on the market
The process of putting a house on the market

Selling a home can often be a difficult and lengthy process, so it is important to make things easier for yourself by preparing your home before it goes on the market. By doing this, you should be able to sell your property quickly.

To ensure your home is in a saleable condition, check out ‘how to ready a house for sale’ to see hints and tips on how to improve your home’s kerb appeal to potential buyers.

You can avoid unnecessary stress by making sure you fully understand the stages of the selling process and follow the steps below to make it as smooth as possible.

Getting your property valued

  • Research the market for similar properties in your own area, either through agent windows, local property papers or property websites
  • To get a guide price for your property visit Property Price Advice or Zoopla.
  • To check out what properties are selling for in your area visit NetHousePrices, which uses data from the Land Registry.
  • Get at least three estate agents to do no obligation valuations, so you can get a balanced view.
  • Before you choose which estate agent to sell your property through, get to know the local property market and sales prices before you make your choice.
  • Do not always choose the one that gave you the highest valuation, as realistically you might not be able to sell your property for that price.
  • Remember the final selling price will not necessarily be as much as your original asking price.

Find an estate agent

  • If you sign up with an agent to sell your property you will have to sign a contract and pay a fee.
  • Before signing, read the contract carefully and check the meaning of any unfamiliar terms. Ensure you fully understand how much you will have to pay and when as once you sign it you must adhere to its terms and conditions.
  • Find out whether you have the right to cancel the contract and check how long it will run. It should allow a reasonable length of time to market your property and find potential buyers.
  • Stay in regular contact with your estate agent to: get progress reports, make sure they are marketing your home and getting prospective buyers in.

Energy Performance Certificate

  • If you are selling your home, you will need to provide an Energy Performance Certificate to potential buyers free of charge. This is required by law when a building is built, sold or put up for rent.
  • An EPC contains information on a property's energy use, carbon dioxide emissions, and provides an energy efficiency rating. This rating ranges from 'A' for the most energy efficient to 'G' for the least efficient.
  • It must be carried out by an accredited domestic energy assessor, who will carry out the assessment and produce the certificate. AN EPC is valid for ten years and the cost is set by the market but will depend on the size and location of your property.
  • You can find a domestic energy assessor on the Landmark website, for further information click here

Accepting Offers

  • Your estate agent will get in touch with you when an offer has been made on your property, he or she should be able to advise you whether it is a good offer, but the final decision is up to you.
  • Your agent must tell you about every offer that is made, regardless of whether you are likely to accept it. However, it is normal practice to haggle over the price.

  • It is unlikely that you will accept the first offer you receive unless you want to sell your property quickly.

  • When you are happy with an offer you can accept it ‘subject to survey and contract’. This means that the deal does not becoming binding until contracts are exchanged. Your estate agent will then write to you, the buyer and both sets of solicitors to confirm the property sale, and request that the solicitors draw up a draft contract.

  • The buyer might ask you to take your property off the market but only do this if they can prove they are in an excellent position to move forward with the sale. Otherwise, keep showing potential buyers around.

  • Even if you have accepted an offer, there is no law to prevent you from changing your mind and accepting a higher offer from someone else.

  • Remember that when an offer is made and accepted the potential buyer can also withdraw, for example, they may not get a mortgage, or the survey may show up a structural problem.

Conveyancing

  • This is the process of legally transferring ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer and there are three main stages of conveyancing for sellers: the pre-contractual stage, exchange of contracts and completion.

Pre-contractual stage:

  • Once you have negotiated and accepted an offer for your property, the legal process begins and documents need to be prepared to transfer ownership from you to the buyer.

  • You will need to appoint a solicitor or conveyancer to do all the legal work involved in the sale, for example, release details of the deeds to your buyer's solicitors and draw up a contract of sale.

  • The buyer will then check the draft contract and may wish to negotiate its contents.

  • Before you exchange, solicitors will do their final checks, including which fixtures and fittings you are including in the sale. You must make sure you leave these behind when you move out of the property.

  • The buyer will also arrange for a survey to be carried out to check there are no major structural issues with the property. If it reveals that a lot of work needs to be done on the property then he or she may want to renegotiate their offer.

Exchange of contracts

  • When you and the buyer are happy with its contents, you will sign final copies of the contract and send them to each other. This is the ‘exchange of contracts’.

  • Once contracts are exchanged, the agreement to sell and buy is legally binding and usually neither party can pull out without having to pay compensation.

  • Your solicitor or conveyancer will answer any further queries from the buyer’s solicitor or licensed conveyancer, who will prepare the legal documents to transfer ownership.

  • At this point the buyer should pay a deposit, usually at least 5% of the sale price, to your solicitor

Completion

  • After contracts have been exchanged and all remaining checks by the buyer have been dealt with, you are ready to complete and hand over the keys.

  • However, this does not take place until your solicitor or conveyancer has confirmed that the money has been transferred from the buyer to you.

  • Once you receive confirmation, you must move out and leave the property in the state agreed in the contract.

  • All the legal documents needed to transfer ownership are handed over to the buyer via his or her solicitor and he/she now owns the property.

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