Whether you’re new to the house selling process or have sold a property before, there’s a lot to remember and check off the to-do list. The average time to sell a house, from an agreed sale to completion, has surged from 90 days to 110-115 days in 2021. Why so long?
Because with a traditional sale on the open market, there are plenty of hoops to jump through and COVID-19 has resulted in further delays due in part to the backlog of transactions that accumulated during the first lockdown and the sharp rise in buyer demand.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the house selling process step-by-step, so you know exactly what to expect and how to prepare.
A Step-By-Step Guide to Selling Your House
1. Assess your finances
Before putting your property on the market, crunch the numbers, so you know how much money you’re likely to have to buy a new home. This will help you decide if now is the right time to sell as well as guide your property search.
Request a few valuations from local or online estate agents and take the average as a realistic expected sale price. You can also look at how much similar properties have sold for on property search sites.
Contact your mortgage provider to check the remaining balance and whether there will be any early repayment charges if you decide to purchase a new property with another lender. To avoid these charges, it may be possible to port your existing mortgage to another property.
Consider the costs of selling a house, which includes estate agent fees, conveyancing fees, early repayment charges (if applicable), energy performance certificates, costs of home repairs and removal costs.
Subtract the costs of selling and the outstanding mortgage balance from the expected sale price to give you an estimate of how much you could walk away with. Until the house sells, this figure is an approximation as there’s no way to tell exactly what the final sale price will be — nor when the property will sell (which will affect the cost of ongoing mortgage repayments and the outstanding loan amount).
2. Choose an estate agent
Hundreds of estate agents will be happy to take your business, from traditional high street agents to online agencies. The effectiveness of your estate agent can have a significant impact on how quickly your home sells, so take the time to do some research and solicit recommendations from friends and family.
Alternatively, manage the sale yourself. Many people are unaware that using the services of an estate agent is not mandatory. Check out our guide to Selling a Property Without An Estate Agent and save yourself the fees.
Either with the help of an estate agent or through your research, decide on an asking price and start marketing the property.
3. Gather the necessary documentation
You’ll need to compile various documents to sell your house. It’s a good idea to locate and organise these early on to avoid stress and delays later in the process if you discover a document is missing or does not contain the information required. There’s no need to wait until you have a buyer.
Your conveyancing solicitor is likely to require the following documents:
- Proof of address and a photo ID — such as a utility bill and a photo driving licence.
- The Title Deeds to your property — if you can’t find these, contact the conveyancing solicitor who managed your house purchase or your mortgage lender.
- A TA6 Seller’s Property Form — this is one of the few documents a seller cannot prepare before finding a buyer as the buyer completes it and passes it on to the seller’s solicitor. However, you can download a template form from the Law Society website and prepare answers to the questions in advance to minimise delays further on in the process.If you lease your home or own a share in the freehold, additional documents are required. These include proof of the lease or share of the freehold, a TA7 leasehold form and a “management information pack.”
- Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) — you must purchase this before placing the property on the market. Most estate agents will offer you an EPC.
- Fittings and contents (TA10) form —- the seller must detail what fixtures and fittings to include in the sale and what they will be taking with them.
- Information about your mortgage — your solicitor will need to know who the lender is and what the outstanding balance is
- Complete home improvements. It may seem like a questionable investment to spend time and money completing repairs or making cosmetic improvements to a home you won’t be living in soon, but it can help a house sell more quickly and for a higher price.
Some improvements will add more value than others. Converting a garage into a living space or improving the energy efficiency of a property are two of the best ways to add value to your home. If you’re not keen on spending the time or money to undertake major works, small improvements such as tidying a messy garden or adding a lick of paint to external walls can add some much-needed curb appeal.
4. Instruct a conveyancing solicitor
Your solicitor will manage all the legalities of the house sale. As with an estate agent, a badly chosen solicitor can result in delays, so do your research. You should instruct a solicitor as soon as you have accepted an offer. Fees will vary, but the cheapest solicitor is not always the most sensible option. Word-of-mouth recommendations tend to be the best way to go.
5. Offer, exchange and completion
Once you have an offer you’re happy with, formally accept it via your estate agent (if you’re using one). Either party can change their mind up to the point of exchange when the transaction becomes legally binding.
Any negotiations on price, fixtures included in the sale, exchange and completion dates or other matters must be completed before the exchange of contracts occurs. Once contracts are exchanged, completion typically takes place in seven to 28 days. Completion will be handled entirely by the solicitors. Your solicitor will also pay off any outstanding mortgage fees as soon as completion has occurred.
6. Final step, move out!
Want to Skip a Few Steps and Sell Your Home Fast?
Phew! That’s quite a lengthy, complex and not to mention expensive process. Why not skip a few steps and sell your home in as little as seven days with House Buyer Bureau? There’re no estate agent fees and no need to spend money on home improvements — or wait months to find the right buyer.
We can offer a guaranteed sale in a timescale that suits you. The cash offer we make will be slightly under the market value of your property, but when compared to the time, hassle and expense of selling on the open market, it’s an attractive choice for many sellers. Take a look at some example figures here.