Selling your home, whether out of necessity or choice, can be a significant undertaking - especially if you're new to the seller's market. When you've made the decision to sell you may not know where to start to get things moving, but a few step-by-step guidelines can set you on your way to that all-important sale. We discuss how to get your house on the market and securing your first viewings.
Get an estate agent
First things first: you'll need to enlist the services of a local estate agent to get your house up on the market. As well as doing the work of listing your house as a property for sale, an estate agent will also advertise your property and secure interested buyers a viewing of your home.
However, estate agents certainly don't come cheap, which is why it's important to shop around and haggle to ensure you're getting the best deal. Instead of settling on the first estate agent you speak to, gather valuations plus information on fees and terms from a few different agencies.
Some estate agents will require you to sign up for a fixed or exclusive term, meaning you won't be able to switch agents down the line if you aren't happy with their work. It may be a better idea to sign up for a short term contract so that you can move to another agent if your current one is not up to scratch.
Another thing worth comparing is the valuations that several different agents give (but don't discuss the other valuations you have from other agents). Some will give lower valuations than others, but it's not always worth going with the agent who offers the highest valuation - though they might promise a higher price for the sale of your home, they can't guarantee this. The agent with the highest valuation doesn't always mean the best service.
When you've decided on the estate agent that's right for you, make sure to get the fees and conditions of the contract down in writing so you know exactly where you stand.
Get a valuation, and set a price
You will already have had at least one or two valuations from your local estate agents, but before settling on the price at which you wish to sell your home it's worth getting a few more The Land Registry and House Prices to see what sort of price your house might be worth as well as how much property in your area has sold for recently.
You can also request free valuations of your home according to its age, condition, and other criteria on sites such as Mouse Price and Price My Home. These estimates plus those supplied by your estate agents should give you a good foundation on which to set a reasonable price. However remember that it's likely you will have to knock down your starting price (unless you make a very quick sale), particularly in a downturn when the power lies more with the buyer than the seller.
Get an Energy Performance Certificate
While HIPs (Home Information Packs) are no longer a legal requirement, Energy Performance Certificates are, so you'll need to have yours ready before putting your house on the market, and before any viewings take place.
You need to get a registered energy assessor to do this for you - you can find one via the Landmarks website.
Get your house online
You may be able to increase the chances of getting interested prospective buyers if you widen the scope of your advertising. Placing the advertising of your property in the hands of an estate agent alone may be enough, but you may want to open up the market further by advertising it online.
You can do this by listing your house on sites such as RightMove and HomeBuyer. Though they will often charge a small fee, it may be worth it in order to have your property seen online by a wider audience than your estate agent can provide.
Get your house ready
Once you've enlisted the help of an estate agent, settled on an asking price, prepared your HIP, and your house is up on the market, the next thing you can do is get your house ready for viewings. It's at this point that you'll need to stop seeing the house as 'your home' and think of it instead as a property that will soon belong to someone else.
You can increase the chances of securing an offer by employing the age-old tactics of sprucing up your home to make it as attractive as possible to prospective buyers. When viewers start knocking, you can start looking at the market from a buyer's point of view - not least to better understand what a buyer might want from your home, but also to begin scoping out the market yourself for the new home you plan to move into.
Prepare for the move
Once you have an offer on your home and you are ready to sell, you'll need to enlist the services of a conveyancing solicitor. Conveyancing is the process by which ownership of your property passes from you to the buyer, and is a legal course of action, which is why you need to bring in a solicitor. You can search for a solicitor in your area that specialises in conveyancing on the Law Society website.
The buyer of your property will also have a solicitor, and once you have agreed on the sale both yours and the buyer's solicitors will draw up contracts for the property's transfer of ownership. The contracts will be exchanged between the solicitors and a completion date will be agreed on. This will be the date that the ownership of the property legally passes from you to the buyer.
At this point the property no longer belongs to you, so there's nothing left to do but set a date for your move. You may want to enlist the help of the British Association of Removers, a body representing 500 of the UK's removal services.
How to increase your property's value before you sell
Extend upwards: As long as you have the space and the money to convert your loft, it can be a hugely worthwhile investment.
Extend downwards: A converted basement or cellar can add value as it provides your house with an extra room, which can be a good idea if you can't afford or don't have the space to build a costly extension to the side of your house.
Extend outwards: Increasing the actual size of your property by adding extra rooms to your existing walls, such as with conservatories, can easily bump up the value of your home because of the extra space it lends.
Add floor space: Adding an extra bedroom above a garage for example, can mean your home's value shoots up. Similarly, converting your garage into a fully functioning room is another way to add space.
Install central heating: If your home isn't centrally heated you can significantly increase its value by installing this throughout the house.
Double-glaze: You can easily boost your properties value either by getting an extra pane of glass added to your windows or having completely new windows installed.
Add a parking space: Adding a parking space to your property can increase your home's value significantly. The value of your home goes up even more if you can add a garage, too.
Improve your outside space: Resurfacing your driveway improves the selling potential of your home if you have a smooth, new driveway free of pock-marks.
Redecorate: Overhauling the decor of your house can increase its value, but you'll need to be careful or your home could inadvertently drop in value. Choose neutral colours for walls and flooring to make the property more attractive to potential buyers.
Re-use the space you already have: If you have space in your property that isn't realising its full potential, try to make use of it as much as you can. For example you might have a large walk-in wardrobe that isn't being filled - converting this into an en-suite bathroom instead could bump up the value of your significantly.