16 December, 2015
It's often said that buying a house is one of life's most stressful activities, and with so much at stake, it's hard to disagree. Selling, however, can be just as complex a process if you're not properly prepared.
It's essential to have patience and the right help on hand throughout, as it can take some time. It's also worth remembering that every sale will be different. You may, for example, be part of a lengthy chain, or you could be selling to a first-time buyer before emigrating elsewhere; there are plenty of variables.
Either way, the following information should be useful. It's our step-by-step breakdown of the journey you'll likely take.
Valuing your home
There's so much to consider when it comes to selling a property, but the goal for most is clear from the start: get the most money in the shortest time possible.
Start by requesting a professional valuation, so you have an idea of what the asking price should be. Now, valuing isn't an exact science by any means, but it's always best done by an expert agent who knows the current economy inside out, and has an in-depth knowledge of the local area.
They'll use their experience of selling and buying similar properties in the same part of town to give you some ideas of what to expect. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Choosing an estate agent
This part can be the difference between a smooth and successful transaction and an all-out disaster. You need and deserve the best help possible to get a good deal, so when it comes to picking the right estate agent, there's a lot to consider.
- How much experience do they have?
- Are they based locally?
- When are they open/available?
- How closely will they work with you?
- How will they market your property?
You need to be happy with the answers to these questions before you go ahead and sign anything. Those that aren't ready to give the right responses aren't worth your time or money - keep going until you get what you need. Reviews help here too.
Choosing a solicitor
Next up, the legal side of things. The property world is filled with legal terms and processes you might not understand; a solicitor will be able to guide you through the minefield ahead. Once again, do your research and ask questions - the cheapest solicitor is unlikely to be your best option.
Marketing your property
By now, you should have already spoken to your agent about marketing, but now's the time to get started. First things first, you need to make the property presentable. At this point, it's advisable to get rid of any eccentric decoration and revert to neutral walls and carpets, if budget allows. And those little DIY jobs that you've been putting off for the past year? Now's the time to get them sorted.
You then want to make sure the experts are promoting your property consistently and comprehensively across a wide range of channels. The key features should also be highlighted - something like a mezzanine level, for example, could be what it takes to separate your home from every other on the market.
Assuming the marketing has been done correctly, you'll soon have people visiting. Ideally, they'll be shown around by your estate agent - accompanied viewings are a service well worth paying for, so be sure to ask if they're included. Flexibility is crucial here; you want these visits to take place at times that suit you.
Using their experience, the agent will know exactly how to make a property appealing to interested parties. They'll know what to focus on, and can answer questions before they're even asked.
Receiving (and accepting) offers
You should start to get some offers pretty soon, but they might not be what you expected. People will always start low to see what they can get away with; after all, they want the best deal too. Regardless, your estate agent will keep you informed, while also offering advice.
There's likely to be a bit of to-ing and fro-ing at this point, especially if a potential buyer has their heart set on your property. This is why it's imperative that your agent has great negotiation skills. Once the price reaches an acceptable level for both parties, you accept, and everything will be confirmed in writing.
Draft contracts will be sent through solicitors to ensure everything is as expected, and that enquiries can be addressed. Just remember, though, nothing is set in stone just yet.
Exchanging contracts and completion
Once everything has been fully agreed, the buyer has their mortgage in place and all surveys have been completed, it's time to make things official. The contract is exchanged, with a deposit paid through the buyer's solicitor to yours.
After this, a completion date will be set. This is the date on which the remaining balance will be transferred, once again, through solicitors. This time, however, it'll likely be coming from a bank or lender. When the money has cleared in your account, your solicitor give the green light for the keys to be released.
Now, after all of your hard work and patience, your property is sold! Someone grab the bubbly.