Like it or not, there are much simpler things you can do than sell your house. If you’re in a chain, then things can often get complicated. Just like anything though, if you follow the steps and get yourself nice and prepared, then you’ll give yourself the best chance of enjoying a smooth experience. Read our guide to selling your home for lots of helpful information on the things you need to do to sell your home, and some advice on the steps you can expect to take.
Decide whether to use an estate agent
Most people typically go with an estate agent when they sell a house. Leaving your sale in the hands of professionals is usually the best way to alleviate lots of the stress, as they take care of things such as the marketing and showing of your property. However, there’s obviously a fee involved with this, and most estate agents charge a percentage commission.
It’s worth bearing in mind that there are lots of differences between online and high street estate agents. Many online agents charge a fixed fee, payable up front or deferrable, while most high street agents take a percentage cut of the property value which can be more expensive. If you do choose an online agent, they’ll arrange viewings for you, but you’ll probably have to conduct them yourself.
Estate agents’ costs can easily run into thousands of pounds, and is usually the biggest bill you’ll have when selling your home. It’s possible to sell your home privately, but you may find it more difficult to do so. If you do decide to go with an agent, it’s best to take recommendations from friends and family, or use a review site such as Trustpilot to find an agent you can rely on. Be sure to get to grips with the any of their fees from the outset.
Energy Performance Certificate
It’s a legal requirement to provide your potential buyer with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This sets out your property’s current energy efficiency rating, and highlights its potential too. As you need to make an EPC available within seven days of putting your house on the market, it’s a good idea to get it done as early as possible.
Any EPC is valid for 10 years, so if you’ve owned the property for less than a decade, you may be able to use the existing EPC rather than having to pay for a new one.
Beginning the conveyancing process and accepting an offer
Now you’re actively looking for a buyer, you’ll need a conveyancer to help you with the legal side of things. Choosing a trusted conveyancer that provides you with a transparent quote is always a good idea.
The process really gets going once you find a buyer, and your conveyancer will be ready to move at this point.
As well as supplying your personal information, you’ll fill out a form where you provide specific details about your property, including things such as its boundaries and any alterations that have been made. Remember to pull together any guarantee or planning permission documents that relate to work you’ve had done to the home. You’ll also complete a form detailing the fixtures, fittings and contents that you’re going to leave behind, while if you’re property’s leasehold then you’ll also provide information on things such as your ground rent and service charge.
If you have an outstanding mortgage on your house, your conveyancer will obtain a redemption statement from your lender. This sets out how much you still owe the mortgage provider, and the total figure will include any fees for terminating the contract early. When you complete on your sale, your conveyancer will transfer the redemption amount to your lender for you.
In order to prove that you’re legally permitted to sell your house, you need a copy of the title deeds. As they’re usually be held by the Land Registry, your conveyancer will request a copy for you. If your property isn’t registered (which is possible if it hasn’t changed hands in the last 25-30 years), then it’s most likely that your mortgage provider has the title deeds, or you may even have them yourself.
Once your conveyancer has clarified your ownership of your property, they’ll draft contracts for your sale and send them to the buyer’s conveyancer along with the property information forms and any supporting paperwork. At this point the buyer’s side will carry out their searches and surveys, so you’ll need to provide access for this. If the searches and surveys raise any concerns, then you’ll need to iron these out with the buyer.
Sign your contract and transfer deed
When you receive your contract from your conveyancer, make sure you read it carefully and understand all of the terms and conditions. Selling your house is a big step so make sure you don’t leave yourself open to any nasty surprises further down the line. You should receive your transfer deed at the same time as your contract, which is the document that transfers ownership to the buyer and officially finalises your sale. The physical act of signing doesn’t commit you to anything at this stage, so it’s wise to get everything signed and returned as quickly as possible, and your conveyancer will then hold it safe until it’s needed.
The exchange of contracts is often done by your conveyancer over the phone, with hard copies of the documents then sent in the post. Once you’ve exchanged, you’re now legally obliged to sell your house, on the completion date which has been agreed. If you’re involved in a chain, then all parties need to agree on completion in order to move forward before you’ll be able to exchange contracts.
Your completion date is the day where all monies are transferred, and your conveyancer will receive funds from the buyer’s conveyancer. Your remaining mortgage will be paid off, and your conveyancer will send your signed transfer and any title deeds to the buyer’s side. They’ll then transfer the balance of funds to you once all relevant fees have been deducted.
You are legally obliged to move out of your property in good time, although the latest you’ll be expected to vacate your house is typically around midday on your completion date. Take meter readings and let your utility companies know that you’re moving out, which will help you to pay the correct final bills. For further advice on moving out, check out our handy moving house checklist.
As you need to keep up your mortgage repayments until you complete, you can now cancel any future payments. If you overpay and you’re due a refund from your lender, then this’ll be returned in due course. You should also continue to pay your home insurance until your completion date, so this can now be cancelled.
Drop off your keys
Make sure you drop off your keys with your estate agents no later than 2pm on completion day.
Change your details
Once you’ve completed, make sure you promptly update all of the details that need changing, including things like your bank account and driving licence. You can use the Royal Mail’s redirection service to ensure your post reaches you at your new address.
Disclaimer: The article above is only a rough guide to give you some idea of the process of selling your home. It Is important note that cases for selling a house may differ.