Here is Property Trend’s guide to successfully selling your home. These nine steps will give you a good overview of what to expect and how best to prepare.
1. How much is your property worth?
There are several ways to determine the price of your home. The quickest is to check online with the land registry or property portals, to see what similar homes in your area are selling for.
For a more accurate valuation, invite property experts to inspect your home. Good agents don’t charge for valuations, which should take no more than an hour to review your home, its layout and unique features in detail.
At Property Trend, our sales specialist will not only give you a realistic selling price based on current market place conditions, but also include useful tips on how to add value and make the property more attractive to potential buyers.
2. Picking the right estate agent
Today, London is served by thousands of estate agents. How can you determine which one is right for you? Perhaps you are thinking about going it alone and selling privately?
Anyone who has undertaken a private sale will tell you that if you don’t have buyers lined up, the process will involve a lot of work and can be hugely stressful. You not only have to set the right asking price and do your own marketing, but also arrange viewings, negotiate offers and then track progress of the sale with lawyers and all the other parties involved.
The best estate agents work hard for their fee! It’s a job we do every day and our sales specialist employs a vast amount of experience and local knowledge to support our clients during this vital transaction.
To pick the right agency, start by asking friends and family for recommendations of reputable and reliable estate agents. Once you have a shortlist, the valuation process is an ideal time to whittle down your selection to the one best suited to you.
Check the agent’s attitude, track record and approach: if they show poor customer service and interest in your property at this initial stage, the chances are they won’t improve further down the line. Similarly, those who over-promise services and inflate the value of a property are most likely setting up their client for disappointment.
As an independent estate agency, Property Trend is passionate about its business and clients, paying meticulous attention from the very start of a relationship with our clients. We will run you through the best way to prepare your property for a sale, the marketing strategy that we believe will be the most effective, and go through the terms that some agencies try to bury in small print.
3. Preparing your home
Having decided to sell your home, you need to present it in its best possible condition. Decide what it is you will keep for your new property and what you will dispose of – the more you de-clutter, the better.
First impressions count! Put yourselves in the shoes of potential buyers and consider how your property’s interior and exterior look. Homes that appear less well maintained tend to generate less interest and lower sales prices.
By ensuring your front garden is tidy, the rooms are painted in neutral colours and that other minor repairs have been taken care of, will help maximise your chances of selling.
Once you have spruced up your property, we will arrange for a professional photographer to visit. Their photos will showcase your home in the best possible light, so we can effectively market it on our website and other major property portals.
We also create a floor plan of the property and assist you with compiling other documents you need to prepare for a potential buyer. These include gas and electrical certificate checks, building regulations certificates, and – to speed up the sale process – having to hand the results of your own environmental search, which capture details such as flooding risk and radon levels.
Our sales specialists are pro-active in organising viewings, inviting potential buyers to visit your property.
Before we arrange any viewings, we always discuss with clients how this step should proceed. For example, do you wish to be present or leave it to our sales specialist to oversee? Which days and times are best for viewings – this is especially important if people are living in the property?
We provide our clients with a simple checklist of effective presentation tactics: from remembering to leave the windows open to remove any bad odours, to brightening a room with a vase of freshly cut flowers, they all help to make a positive impression on your visitors.
We will also agree on the walk-through so we leave the property’s strongest feature until last. That way the viewing ends on a high note.
Should you opt to be present at the viewing, remember to give buyers sufficient space and time to see the property at their own leisure, while remaining accessible in case they have any questions. Let the sales specialist lead the viewing and discussions, as they will have already primed the buyers with information about the property and gleaned useful insights into what their priorities are.
After viewings, we will always report back on what prospective purchasers have told us. Should their comments suggest action is needed in a certain area, we can work together to make the necessary adjustments to convert buyer interest into actual offers.
5. Offers and negotiations
Property Trend will aim to secure multiple offers for your property knowing that the first or the highest bids are not necessarily the ones that will go through.
Before any offer is passed on to a vendor, our sales specialist will have verified the status of the prospective buyer. This means they must demonstrate they have the financial means to make the purchase and can fulfil the transaction in the timescale you require.
For each bona fide offer we receive, we will inform you by phone and follow this up in writing within 24 hours. We will also supply other useful information to help you decide if you wish to accept or not. For example, if it is a cash purchase, if the buyer has a pre-approved mortgage, or that they are part of a chain.
Once you have made a decision we will relay this back to the buyer. If you turn them down but are willing to negotiate, we will inform them and repeat the process. If you reject them outright, we will similarly let them know.
6. Securing a smooth sale
Inexperienced sellers often regard the previous steps as the biggest hurdles. In reality, securing an offer and agreeing a sale is the easy part. It’s the steps that follow which are the more complex and time-consuming, as there are legal and financial considerations, as well as practical matters such as moving out. We are here to assist with all aspects.
Our sales specialist will initiate the final phase by ensuring there is clarity on all sides. We do this by a Memorandum of Sales – a written document conveying to all parties the agreed sale price and other fundamental points related to the sale of your property.
If the buyer is using a mortgage provider, their lender will need to inspect your property before guaranteeing the funding required. Some will only undertake a Basic Valuation, which is a simple review of the condition of the property to gauge its value. The lender or the buyer may opt for a Homebuyer’s Report instead, as this provides a more detailed assessment of the property.
Inspections will be made by appointment and the report provided quickly – the entire process usually takes no more than three to four weeks. If the surveyor’s report highlights key issues that require further investigation, we will advise you and help arrange any subsequent appointments that are needed.
If the surveyor’s report states issues that adversely impact on the property’s value, then the vendor is faced with a number of choices. They can remedy these defects, or the buyer may want to negotiate a lower price, or the sale can collapse entirely at this point as either the buyer or vendor choose to walk away.
At Property Trend we will try to mediate as best we can, but ultimately we are here to follow your instructions.
Assuming all proceeds well during this initial stage and the purchaser’s mortgage provider is satisfied, they will produce a Mortgage Offer. This is the document that guarantees the finance for the sale and it must be in place before solicitors for both parties can exchange the contract of sale.
We will remain on hand to advise and support the sale. Primarily this will be by keeping in close contact with you and the buyer, the solicitors, financiers, and any parties involved in a chain, helping to drive the process forward to conclusion.
Where necessary, we will happily prod the relevant person to deliver on any outstanding actions, so we don’t lose time or momentum with the sale.
The conveyancing phase (the legal process to transfer property ownership) can be complex and fast-moving, so it’s vital you have an experienced person to represent you. This is usually a solicitor specialising in property, but you can also use a licensed conveyancer.
If you have not yet appointed a lawyer, we can recommend some for you – it’s good to obtain a few different quotes. It’s also vital that whoever you choose can commit the necessary time to work on your case promptly.
Should you opt for a conveyancer, do check they will only represent you. The current rules allow licensed conveyancers to work for both sides, which can result in a conflict of interest.
Once you have selected your solicitor and paid them their initial fee, you can formally start the legal process to exchange ownership. They will start by asking for information, so it’s good to get these prepared in advance if possible:
- The location of your property’s title deeds, and – if it applies – your mortgage roll number, so they can confirm you are the owner of the property
- An accurate list of which fixtures and fittings are included in the sale
- Proofs about the property, such as certificates verifying gas and electricity safety checks, and that any major property works (drainage, extensions etc) complied with building regulations.
- A completed questionnaire which asks in detail about your property, covering your boundaries, whether you have had any disputes with your neighbours, and more. It is a legal requirement that you answer truthfully.
Your solicitor will use this information to prepare a draft contract of sale, which they will send to the purchasers’ solicitor along with supporting documents.
The buyer’s lawyer may query some aspects or ask for amendments to the draft agreement. Once both parties are satisfied with the draft, the buyer and seller are ready to exchange contracts.
As part of this final phase, your solicitor will invite you to sign the contract and confirm the completion date – which is when you must have fully vacated the property. This can be as quickly as seven days and usually no more than 28 days after contracts have been exchanged.
When the completion date is confirmed by both sides and – where applicable – with other parties involved in a chain, the lawyers will proceed to a formal exchange of contracts. In England and Wales, after this point if the buyer pulls out they lose their deposit. Given the value of today’s deposits, this is a rare occurrence, which should give the seller peace of mind that the transaction will be completed as agreed.
8. Dealing with chains
If there are only two parties – you and the buyer – the transaction is relatively straightforward. However, if the buyer is reliant on the sale of their home before they can finalise their purchase of your property, that is, they are “in a chain”, things can get tricky.
This situation becomes more complicated and delays considerably longer if there are more parties involved in the chain, as all parties must be ready to exchange contracts at the same time. Because people are dependent on others and deals can take different lengths of time to mature, if one transaction fails to go through, the entire chain can collapse.
Property Trend takes a pro-active role in managing chains. We identify the individual links and any challenges that are likely to arise, working together with the different parties and their representatives to secure a common Completion date.
Once this has been achieved, the sale can move forward with an exchange of contracts and a confirmed Completion date.
9. Preparing for the big move
Although the process of selling your home can be challenging, often the big move can prove to be the biggest stress of all.
The best way to alleviate the pressure of packing and moving, especially if you are working, is to get organised. Don’t try to do it all in a few days and do get some help.
Property Trend is ready to support you here too, whether it is by providing you with a list of reliable local removal firms and a handy checklist for your big move, or simply with some advice – with over a decade of experience, you can imagine there’s not much we haven’t seen before.
Our checklist includes a host of small, but crucial details such as:
- Telling your bank and service providers you are moving and giving them your new home address
- Setting up a mail re-direct so your post is automatically sent to your new home by Royal Mail
- Organising the packing over several weeks rather than trying to cram it all into a few days
- Allocating sufficient time to prep your new home so any immediate cleaning and DIY can be done before your furniture arrives
- Downloading manuals you may need for equipment in your new home – often it can take several weeks for an internet service provider to connect you at your new home, so it’s always better to be prepared
- Taking meter readings before you leave, and informing the utility companies
- Leaving the new owner manuals and instructions for the operation of appliances, the central heating, and any alarms, as well as where they can locate the aerial socket and other difficult-to-find but essential home items. These acts of kindness will be warmly received by the new residents, who no doubt will be equally stressed with their move.
Then it’s time to make a fresh start in your new home!
When you move, we will collect the keys to pass on to the new owners. And on the Completion date, your lawyer will receive the balance due from the sale of your home, which they will duly transfer to you after deducting their fees.