In this guide we aim to give you the tools you need to make selling your house as pain-free as possible.
You will find tips on how to get the most out of your Estate Agent when selling your property, and how to keep control of the process.
Choosing an agent
Like employing anyone else to work on your house you should shop around for your estate agent.
Talk to 3 estate agents to find out which one will give you the best deal, and is the most informed about the local market.
- A national chain
- The one you know (the one you bought your house from)
- One other local one that is recommend by someone you know
Do your own research on Zoopla and Rightmove to make sure you understand the market, and check what they have said is correct.
At the Agents appointment or "Interview"
You should ask the agent why they are the one you would pick to sell your house.
You are the client so they need to sell themselves to you. If they do that well they should be able to sell you house well too.
Ask the agent the following:
- How big is their mailing list
- How many people view their properties online each month/week
- How many properties have they sold each month in the last 3 months
- When was the last time they sold a house like yours in your area, did it make the asking price
- How long is the average house sale taking from instruction to offer
- Do they ask to see proof of mortgage approved in principle from anyone making an offer
- Do they offer professional photographs
- Do they do professional floor plans
- To show you example particulars and marketing examples
Most agents will ask for sole agency - this is ok for 8-12 weeks but don't tie yourself in to sole agency indefinitely, if they are not selling it you need options, either to appoint another agent on a joint agency or to change agent if things are not moving to your pace.
Agree a plan with your chosen agent
Make sure you know what is expected and when to ensure you get the best out of your agent’s expertise.
- Agree a marketing price and a fee with the agents (you can haggle on fees up to a point)
- The agent will measure up and take photos (and may arrange a floorplan) – ask them when this will happen
- Make sure the house is clean and tidy so it looks fab for the photos and beyond (store stuff if necessary)
- Arrange an EPC - the property cannot be marketed without one. Your agent may organise this for you, but there is a charge
- Find out how long it takes for the agent to prepare draft sales particulars
- Check the draft particulars - this is a legal document and must be correct
- When you are happy sign off the particulars and the agents will use this for marketing
- Let your agent have keys but ask for a phone call before each visit
- Email them instructions about pets and anything else they must/must not do during viewings
Keep your finger on the pulse
Stay in control of the sales process to make sure your house is the one that agents can get into and is looking good at all times.
- Ring the agent once a week if you don't hear from them in the meantime - get feedback about how many people have had/seen your house details and what they are saying about the property if they are not viewing it
- Don't get upset if people don't like your home, it is all very subjective.
- If you get feedback try to take it on board as constructive - if you can change something that will make the house easier to sell do it
- When you get an offer you do not have to make a decision immediately. Discuss it with family or friends if you are not sure
When you get an offer you are willing to accept
When you get an offer you are happy with then instruct the agent to accept it.
We recommend you say that you don't want the property off the market until the purchasers have had their survey done and have given the agent evidence of a mortgage approval. (You actually don't have to take it off the market then either but it is a sign of good faith to do that once the purchaser has made a financial commitment by having the survey done)
Ask your agent to find out about the position of the purchaser to be sure you have a proceedable buyer.
Questions to ask the agent to find out about your purchaser, ask them to ask the following:
- Are they a first time buyer or in a chain
- If in a chain how long is it
- How far into the process is everyone in the chain
- Have they got a mortgage agreed in principle
If you get two (or more) offers
It can be exciting to get more than one offer, but the highest offer may not be the best choice for you
If you get more than one offer weigh up the points above as well as the amount of money offered
You agent might be able to bid up one against the other if price is you main concern.
You might prefer a first time buyer over a long chain even if their offer is slightly less
Keeping in control of your sale
This is not the time to coast along as there is no legal redress if your purchaser pulls out before exchange.
The best way to avoid a sale falling through is to get the sales process done as quickly as possible.
- Once you have accepted the offer agree a preliminary moving date with your purchaser
- Keep chasing up your agent once a week (you can do this by email or phone)
- Ask when the survey will be done
- When the survey is done ask if the other legal paperwork is in place
- keep asking about the condition of the chain (if there is one)
- keep checking if you are still working to the same date
- keep asking if anyone needs anything from you
- When you get paperwork from your solicitors fill it in and get it back to them immediately
The final stage
Once you exchange you will be agreeing a date to complete (sometimes exchange and completion are on the same day)
- Book your van or (even better) removals company
- Set up a mail redirection service with the post office - this takes a few weeks, so do it early
- When you move, you must release the keys to the purchaser when your solicitor says so, even if you don't have the keys to the next house
- Most people have everything packed and the keys dropped off to the agent by noon but things can go wrong so be prepared
- Read all the meters and advise all the utilities, Local Council, phone, SKY TV, etc of you move and new address
- You might want to house pets elsewhere temporarily
- if you have very young children it might be a good idea to enlist help in babysitting while you move
Things you pay for when selling a property
- EPC – Energy Performance Certificate
- Agents Fee
- Legal Fees
- Any mortgage redemption fees if you have a fixed term mortgage