Property Blog and News / The government’s latest guide to buying or selling your home

The government’s latest guide to buying or selling your home

2 May 2023


Property Expert

The Home Buying & Selling Group recently shared the government’s latest guide to buying or selling a home in England and Wales. Today, we’re sharing some of the key takeaways from the guide…

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and is valid for 10 years. It contains information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs as well as recommendations on how to reduce energy use and save money.

Before marketing your home for sale or to rent, you’ll need to order an EPC for your property by finding an accredited assessor who’ll be able to assess your property and produce the certificate.

If you’re a buyer or potential tenant, you should also ask to see the EPC of a property when looking to buy or rent it if the EPC isn’t included in the property listing.

More information, including details on buildings that don’t need an EPC and where to find an energy assessor to provide you with an EPC of your property, can be found on the full government guide.

Estate agents

If you use an estate agent to sell your home like most people choose to do, you must sign a legally binding contract with them and must stick to the terms of the contract or you could be taken to court.

Estate agents must treat buyers fairly and if you’re a seller, your agent must show you any offers promptly and in writing. In addition, even if you accept an offer on your home, estate agents are legally obliged to pass on any other offers for the property to you all the way up until when contracts are exchanged.


If your home is being sold through an estate agent, buyers must make any offers through your agent, however if it’s a private sale, buyers can make offers directly to you as the seller.

If you’re a buyer, you can make offers verbally or in writing and when an agent is looking after the sale, they’ll be legally obliged to present all offers to the seller up to when contracts are exchanged as an offer is not legally binding in England and Wales until contracts are exchanged.

It’s also worth noting that if an offer is made “subject to contract”, the price of the property can still be negotiated.

Transferring ownership

As a seller, once an offer is accepted on your home, you’ll be responsible for drawing up a legal contract to transfer ownership and you can hire a solicitor or conveyancer to help you with this. Your solicitor or conveyancer will draft the initial contract which will include details such as the sale price, the property boundaries, the fixtures and fittings that’ll be included, legal restrictions or rights like public footpaths or rules about using the property, planning restrictions, services to the property such as drainage and gas, and when the sale will complete.

Your solicitor or conveyancer will also be able to answer any questions from the buyer’s solicitor or conveyancer and they’ll negotiate the details of the contract if needed.

Once both yourself as the seller and the buyer are happy with the contract, both sides will need to sign final copies and send them to the other and the agreement to sell and buy will be legally binding once this has happened and the deal can move to completion.

When moving the deal to completion and contracts have been exchanged, the money will be transferred from the buyer to the seller, the legal documents needed to transfer ownership of the property will be handed over to the buyer, the seller will move out of the property and leave it in the condition agreed in the final contract, keys will be handed over to the buyer and the property will then belong to the buyer.


If you’re buying a home in England or Northern Ireland, you might need to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). SDLT needs to be paid if the property you’re buying is worth £250,000 or more but if you’re buying your first home, you won’t have to pay SDLT is the property you’re purchasing is £425,000 or less.

If you’re if you’re buying a home in Wales, you may need to pay Land Transaction Tax and if you’re selling a home you might have to pay Capital Gains Tax. You don’t pay Capital Gains Tax when you sell your home if all the following points apply:

  • You’ve lived in the property as your main home for all the time that you’ve owned it
  • You haven’t let part of it out or used part of it for business only
  • The grounds, including the buildings, are smaller than 5,000 square meters

If you don’t meet all of the above criteria, you might have to pay some Capital Gains Tax.

To access full details and more information on all of the above points, read the full government guide here.

Content provided by is for information purposes only. Independent and professional advice should be taken before buying, selling, letting or renting property, or buying financial products.