A guide to selling your first property
Here are some top tips to help take first-time sellers from novice to know-it-all. And don’t forget our property jargon buster.
Get a rough idea of what your home’s worth
You can see what properties have been going for in your local area quickly and for free at OnTheMarket. Simply go to the homepage, click on ‘Sold prices’ on the right, enter your property’s location and hit ‘Search’. And if you’re not sure when it’s the right time to put your property on the market, get some inspiration in our guide.
Sort out your finances and paperwork
George Price is Senior Negotiator at Michael Jones & Company at the Worthing branch. George says you should first find out if there are any penalties for paying back your mortgage. Then it’s time to budget. Main costs to consider, he says, include estate agency and financial adviser fees, legal fees, stamp duty, Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and removal costs.
Find an agent and get a valuation
Sally Knights at Albion Sales & Lettings agents in Northampton says a good agent should be ‘friendly, approachable, fair and professional’. Sally advises sellers to:
– Ask friends, family and colleagues for a recommendation, and check review sites.
– Call a few agents to ask about properties and see how your call is handled.
– Get three valuations.
– Choose your agent based on the value for money, local expertise and the level of service they offer. And don’t be fooled into automatically going with the agent who gives you the highest valuation as they may be doing this just to get you on their books!
– Be wary of how long the agent’s ‘sole agency’ tie-in period is.
– Read the terms of business carefully and query anything you’re not sure of.
– Ensure the agent has included the 14-day cooling off period clause in your terms of business.
– Trust your gut, as most of the time, it’s right!
Prep for viewings
George has some advice for making your home look appealing:
– Depersonalise and declutter. “While a house should feel homely, you need to allow the potential buyer to imagine his or her own family in the property. It will also save you time when it comes to packing.”
– Make sure your kitchen and bathrooms are looking tip-top. “Typically, these are the rooms that buyers want to see the most. Ideally, they shouldn’t look as if they need a huge renovation or a lot of money needed to be spent on them.”
Accepting an offer
George recommends that you follow your agent’s advice: “They are after all the experts in both the local area and also how the local market is currently performing.”
He adds: “You’re not just negotiating on the price but also on the buyer’s availability to move within a timeframe that suits you. It’s no good accepting an offer if you’re looking for a quick sale yet the buyer has somewhere to sell.”
Finding a solicitor/conveyancer
Here are some of George’s top tips for finding the right person for the job:
– Ask your agent, friends and family for a recommendation.
– Consider a local solicitor as they will be more familiar with the local area – and you can hand-deliver documents to speed things up.
– Think about the size of the firm. A large team of solicitors can mean there’s someone to cover if your contact is away.
– Get an estimated fixed cost upfront.
– Cheaper is not always better.
Exchange and completion
The sale won’t be legally binding until contracts have been exchanged. You can read more about exchange and completion (and plenty of other advice) in our longer guide to selling a property.
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