Moving house is not something most of us do that often, so even if you’re a veteran mover, its completely understandable if you’re a little fuzzy on all the steps involved to sell your home.
Here’s a quick outline of the process – if you’d like more information then of course get in touch – we can talk about the moving process all day!!
Decide to move
After what has probably been a long and winding road as you weigh the pros and cons of moving, you finally reach the point of ‘yes, its time for us to sell this home and move on’. It’s often a tough decision to make, so feel free to get in touch if you’d like a local expert to bounce ideas off, such as whether you should move or extend, whether now or in the future might be the best time to move etc.
The next thing to do is a little research on the online property portals: What is for sale in your area? How much are houses like yours on the market for? The more informed you are about the current market, the better!
Research local agents
There are a few things to consider when selecting agents to come and provide a valuation of your home.
- Local knowledge is key! Local agents will not only have expert knowledge of the hyper local property market, but will also have a robust database of buyers looking for their next home in your area.
- The style of marketing of the agent can have a big impact on the sales success of your property – are their photos crisp, well lit and showing the property to its best? Is the text of the advert professionally phrased and free of typos? Do they routinely use video and have a good presence on social media channels?
- Do their values and style resonate with you? Review the ‘about’ pages of their website to get a sense for the company and staff who you’ll be working with
- What experiences have prior customers had? Browse the recent google reviews as well as any estate-agent specific review schemes that the agent participates in
Invite agents around for value consultation and select your agent
This is not only where you find out the potential value of your home in the current market, its also where you get to ‘interview’ your shortlisted estate agents.
In many ways a value consultation is like a job interview – at the highest level you’re looking for an agent who has the right skills for the job, similar values to your own and one who you build a quick rapport with.
Other key things to look for are how prepared the agent was for your meeting with them:
- Did they bring along data from the local market to support their proposed valuation?
- Have they described their tailored marketing plan for your property in detail?
- What is their contract length? A good agent will not need to lock you into a long contract term as they will prove their worth and you will not want to leave.
Important to note is that the agent who offers the highest valuation and/or the lowest fee is likely not the best fit – if a property is priced too high for the local market it will not attract the desired interest and will sit on the market and go stale. Likewise a low fee often means a lower quality of service – this may mean for example that you conduct your own viewings, that photos are taken by the agent rather than a professional, that you are not provided with essential advice on how to prepare your home for the market and that conveyancing is left to solicitors once the sale is agreed (rather than being facilitated by the agent).
Prepare your home for photos/video and viewings
First impressions are key, whether via photographs in the online listing or at an in-person viewing, so it is key that your property is looking its best.
- Kerb appeal - take care of any small maintenance jobs, whether that is paint touch-ups, oiling a squeaky hinge on the gate or mowing and weeding
- Declutter - lots of ‘stuff’ in a home on the market is a distraction to potential buyers, in some cases hiding key selling features of the home. Cluttered surfaces or bulging cupboards can also give the impression that there isn’t enough storage in the home – not something you want to convey!
- Depersonalize – reminders of the current homeowners whether through family photos, a prized collection of sports memorabilia or even just used towels and toothbrushes in the bathroom makes for an uncomfortable environment for viewers they won’t want to linger, and they will also struggle to picture themselves in the home
A premium agent will provide an individual consultation at your home advising on how to maximize the appeal of your home using principles of buyer psychology. This will include how best to prepare each room through decluttering and furniture arrangement and then how to set the stage to achieve that ‘wow’ factor for photos and viewings.
Agent prepares to market your home
The agent will now send out a photographer, measure room dimensions, create a floorplan and write a detailed and inviting description of your home. They will also ensure that an Energy Performance Certificate is in place for your home, or arrange for one to be put in place as it is a legal requirement. The agent will also conduct the due diligence required as part of Anti-Money Laundering regulations – this involves confirming that you are who you say you are via ID checks and that you have the legal right to sell the property.
On the market
Time to start biting those nails!!
Once your property is live on the agent’s website and property portals (Rightmove, Zoopla etc.) as well as social media channels, the agent will get to work contacting their buyer database and arranging viewings.
Insist on accompanied viewings (rather than doing the viewings yourself) – buyers tend to stay longer when the owner is not at home, and will ask more candid questions or raise what might be an easily addressed concern, which likely wouldn’t happen if the owner was present.
After each viewing your agent will share the feedback from the viewers which is invaluable in taking the pulse of the market and evaluating the price and presentation of your home.
Although the past few years have led us to believe that offers should come within days and after single digit viewings, the reality is that most properties are on the market for around 12 weeks before receiving a good offer. Its important to stay patient, listen to your agent and trust the process – it might be that the perfect buyer shows up on day 1, or it could take a good number of weeks.
Great news – there are offers on the table!
You’ll probably be jumping up and down with excitement at this point, but its important not to be dazzled by the biggest number. A ‘good’ offer is a fair market value numerical offer from a buyer who is committed to the sale. You ideally want to accept an offer from a ‘proceedable’ buyer, which is one who has either already accepted an offer on their own property, or one who has nothing to sell. Paying with cash rather than requiring a mortgage is another plus.
Another important factor to consider is how much of a chain is associated with a buyer – the more properties in the chain, the higher the likelihood that issues will develop. Having no chain, or a buyer who is willing to break the chain by moving into rented accommodation is optimal.
The first offer presented will often be just the start of the conversation, so don’t be discouraged if the number is not quite what you were hoping for. Your agent will guide you through the negotiation process and will handle all of the back-and-forth conversations on your behalf.
There is usually more ‘in the pot’, but for the right buyer, compromises will likely need to be made on both sides to reach agreement.
At this point you are happy with the offer from your buyer and have formally accepted. Your agent will now confirm that the buyer has the necessary funds in place to purchase your property and will conduct additional checks on the buyer as part of the required buyer Anti-Money Laundering screening.
The final step before legal conveyancing can begin is for both you and your buyer to nominate solicitors, if you haven’t already. Your agent will then issue the Sales Memorandum (which goes to each solicitor) to ‘instruct’ the sale and will confirm with you that this has taken place.
This part of the process is led by the two solicitors with an outline process as follows:
- Issue draft contracts
- Order ‘Searches’ from local authorities looking into any water, drainage, flooding, mining etc. issues that might be associated with the property
- Once search results are returned, the buyer’s solicitor will ‘raise enquiries’ of the seller’s solicitor to obtain more information on anything of concern
- Once enquiries have been addressed, final contracts can be drawn up and signed.
At this point the sale becomes legally binding.
The name refers to the fact that the contracts are literally ‘exchanged’ between the two solicitors and the buyer’s deposit is paid.
Completion: Move day!!
Completion is typically around a week after exchange, but it can be concurrent with exchange, or sometimes happen a long period afterwards, if agreed by both parties ahead of time.
Buyer funds are sent over to the seller’s solicitor and final paperwork is completed.
The keys are then released, and the buyer takes ownership of the property.
This is usually a hectic day, with the seller moving out of a property in the morning, and the buyer moving in in the afternoon – your agent will arrange for the keys to be passed between the seller and buyer.