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Guide to selling your home; the top 5 things you need to know
- AuthorSabrina Skerritt
Whether you are selling your home to make more room for a growing family, or you are looking for something smaller now that the nest has become less occupied, our aim is to make your move as stress free as possible. We also understand that selling your home can be an emotional time if you are selling the property that you shared with a loved one, or a family home that your children grew up in. Here, Conveyancer Sabrina Skerritt provides the ultimate guide for selling your home by detailing each step of the process, how to prepare your home for viewings, as well as selling your property through auction.
What are the stages to selling my home?
When deciding to sell your home, it can be difficult to know where to start, especially if this is the first time you are selling. "If you decide to put your property up for sale, there will be a lot to consider," explains Sabrina. "From finding the right estate agent to knowing what quick fixes can spruce up your home and make it more appealing, we can guide you through the often complicated process and make it as straightforward and simple as possible."
Selling a property can be broken down into three stages, and while each property is different and we will tailor them to your specific needs, below is a general overview of the process of selling a home.
- The first stage will be about gathering information on your home to help us better understand what sort of property you are looking to sell. It is important that you provide us with as much information as possible at the outset to ensure a smooth transaction. Also, the more information we have, the quicker your sale is likely to go through. We will send some forms for you to complete so we can gather the essential information buyers look for when purchasing a property. Documents such as service reports, guarantees, and installation certificates are just some examples of what we like to see when getting a feel for your property. “There is no such thing as sending us too much paperwork – if you’re not sure, send it anyway!” explains Sabrina. Once we have all the initial information and completed forms from you, we will send these to the buyers’ solicitors.
- The second stage makes up the bulk of the transaction. This is where the buyers’ solicitors will review the paperwork we have sent them and raise their enquiries. Any questions that are specific to your property will be sent to you to provide your replies and any legal points we will answer on your behalf. Once we have responded to all the buyers’ solicitors' enquiries and they are happy, we will legally bind you and the buyer into the transaction by exchanging contracts.
- The third and final stage is completion. This is the day the buyers will send us their purchase monies and you vacate the property. We aim to complete all transactions by 1pm on the day of completion; however this can vary depending on the size of the chain.
"When putting your home on the market, getting all the documents and paperwork in order is the first step," explains Sabrina. "In order to ensure your sale runs as smoothly and quickly as possible, it is best to instruct us, even before you have potential buyers, so that the documents are ready when one is found.”
How can I prepare my home for potential buyers?
"Knowing how to present your home and prepare it for viewings is important, and these simple tips can go a long way to helping you secure the right buyer for your property," comments Sabrina.
When preparing your home for viewings, it is vital that you do everything you can to help potential buyers envision themselves making your property their home. There are a number of questions you can ask yourself to assist in that, and these are:
- What changes should I make to my home before viewings?
It is important to make sure that you do a deep clean and maintain this each time you have a viewing. You should also carry out any minor repairs that may be needed, for example, changing any light bulbs that are not working or fixing any loose fitting draws. Simple fixes that are left undone can leave the property feeling less appealing to prospective buyers.
- How can I give a good first impression of my home?
Don’t let your love for your home leave you desensitised to how it looks to others. The exterior of your home is what any potential buyers will see first, so it is a good idea to neaten up the front garden, de-weed the driveway and make sure the front door is clean and inviting. If you have an allocated parking space, it is also a good idea to leave this free so that those viewing the property can park easily and gives them an idea of what it would be like to live there.
- How can I create a light and spacious feel?
Natural light is a simple way of making your home more appealing, so keep the curtains open and the windows sparkly clean to make rooms look light and spacious. A cost effective way of creating a more spacious feel is to add mirrors to rooms that are slightly on the small side.
- What should I tidy away ahead of viewings?
Just like the outside, the inside must be presentable. While it may be difficult, de-cluttering and de-personalising your home will mean that potential buyers will be able to see the true potential of the property and see what they could do with the space if they lived there.
- How do I choose the right estate agent?
Finding the right estate agent is a key part of the process; the estate agent that gives you the highest valuation isn’t always the best option and listing the home with multiple agents may mean you end up paying more than one fee.
- What should I do with my pets during viewings?
While pets are a part of many households, they shouldn’t ideally be a part of the viewing process. The key is to keep any potential buyer’s attention firmly on the property.
- Should I tidy the garden ahead of viewings?
Gardens are often important criteria for potential buyers and shouldn’t be overlooked. Make sure the garden is well kept and tidy. Arrange any furniture you have in a way that helps anyone viewing the property imagine themselves entertaining friends and family there.
- How do I choose the right buyer?
If you receive multiple offers, you’ll want to consider all your options, but it is important to choose the right buyer. You’ll need to weigh this against how far along you are in your own property search and how quickly you are willing to sell. Equally you will need to consider each buyer's circumstances, whether they have a property they are selling, or whether they are a first time buyer and chain free.
- Should I be there for the viewings?
It is advisable that you are not present for viewings as this can hamper any potential buyer’s ability to make a connection with the property. Looking around a property while the current owner is also there can be awkward for some people, and they may look to leave quickly before taking the time to view it properly. However, should a second viewing be requested you may wish to be on hand to answer any specific questions potential buyers have.
“Preparing your home for viewings can sound like a simple task,” comments Sabrina. “However, it is one that does need proper consideration and planning in order to maximise your chance of getting your best offer.”
How do I sell my property through auction?
“Selling your property through an auction is an excellent way to sell a property quickly,” explains Sabrina. “It is, however, a different process than the traditional means of selling and comes with its own considerations.”
Selling your property at auction can have many advantages:
- Can be cost effective
All properties are given a guide price, which is price agreed between you and the auctioneer. If the bids do not reach this price during the auction then the auctioneer will not put down the gavel. The price can potentially be driven up as attendees of the auction attempt to outbid one another.
- Large number of potential buyers
As opposed to a handful of viewings a week, selling at auction allows for a large audience of potential buyers who are serious about making a purchase.
"Often buyers comment that the property they purchased at auction isn’t the one they actually went for," comments Sabrina.
- Quick way to sell
As there are no chains involved, property sales at auction often go through quicker than the traditional process. If the property sells successfully at auction, then once the gavel goes down this is effectively an exchange of contracts.
- Smaller chance of the buyer pulling out
Once the gavel hits the table, the buyer will have to pay their 10% deposit to the auctioneers on the day and usually has 20 business days from then to complete, or sooner by mutual agreement.
- Particularly good for unusual properties or ones needing a little more TLC
Auctions tend to attract property developers or landlords who are looking for their next project, so properties that are perhaps less traditional or are in need of restoration are often popular.
If you decide to put your property up for sale through auction there will be a number of decisions you will have to make before auction day, which we can hep guide you through.
What is the difference between downsizing and releasing equity?
If you find your children have flown the nest and you are considering selling your property and moving to a smaller home so you can fund your plans for later life, you may also want to consider releasing equity.
While both can give you another source of funds, they have their own pros and cons. Which is better for you will very much depend on your personal situation, but also a few other factors, including:
- Your age
- What other assets you may have
- How quickly you would like the money
- If you decide to release equity, how much you want to release
- How big your current property is, as well as its value
- Your current cash flow situation
- Why you are looking for an injection of funds
There are many other differences between downsizing and equity release and we can guide you through the process to help you figure out which option would be best for you.
Can I still sell my home if I have released equity?
If you do decide to release equity, what happens if you then want to sell your property if your circumstances change?
Before making the decision to release equity from your home, it is important to make sure it is the right option for you and your circumstances.
If you do release equity from your home, it does not commit you to staying in that property, but depending on what plan you may have settled on, it can place certain restrictions on what types of properties you can then move to, if you want to transfer the product to your new property. There are plans that offer downsizing protection, which mean that if you do decide to move, you can be released from the plan without being financially penalised by the early repayment costs. Sometimes however it will not be possible to transfer the product, and depending on the circumstances, there may be a significant Early Repayment Charge payable.
Before signing up to an equity release plan, you must first seek financial and legal advice so you can consider all of your available options and choose the best one for you. If you wish to sell your home after releasing equity, we can assist you with the sale as a member of the Equity Release Council.
“There are many factors to consider when selling your property,” concludes Sabrina. “Each property may well need a different approach. The best way to ensure the smoothest and least stressful process is to seek legal advice from your solicitor so that they can guide you through each step with advice tailor-made for your situation.”
To speak to Sabrina about selling your property, or to answer any other questions you may have regarding the above information, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact any one of our Property teams using the details below:
Fareham: 01329 222096
Southampton: 023 8071 7422
Portsmouth: 023 9275 3575
Chandler’s Ford: 023 8071 7467
Waterlooville: 023 9277 6569
Alternatively, you may find the following links useful:
- What is conveyancing?
- Obtain an estimate for your conveyancing
- Japanese Knotweed: what are your responsibilities?
- Helping your child onto the property ladder
This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice. All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.