When you make the decision to sell your home or investment property, there is a lot to think about. The sales process can be a little confusing because, while it's not overly complex, it does require a lot of different steps and the involvement of a significant number of different parties at various stages of the transaction.
To break the process down into bite sized chunks, we outline below, our 8-step guide to selling your property. The following presents an overview of the process to help you better understand what's involved and plan for what you need to do at each stage.
STEP 1 – GETTING READY
Deciding to move home is a huge decision and there is a lot to be done to get yourself and your property ready. The key thing is to ensure that you are committed to the decision. Are there other alternatives such as developing or extending your existing home? Should you consider renting your property out rather than selling it? When you put your home up for sale there will be a considerable investment of your time, energy and money as you start to move through the process of listing and selling, so you need to be 100% sure you are committed.
As part of your preparation, take the time to ensure that your finances are in order and that you have considered all of the costs you will incur in the sales process, whether there are any penalties for surrendering your mortgage, any implications of negative equity, and the like. You should also determine whether there are any improvements, renovations or repairs that could be carried out ahead of marketing the property.
To save time as the transaction progresses, make sure you have all paperwork in place such as planning permission for building works, building control sign off, warranties for major fittings, latest service records for boilers etc.
In short, the more prepared you are at the start of the process, the easier the transaction should progress when you find a buyer.
STEP 2 – SETTING THE ASKING PRICE
Setting the right asking price for your property is pretty critical! You want to achieve the best price, but you don’t want to fall into the trap of asking too much and letting your property go “stale”. If a property fails to sell in a reasonable period, people will naturally ask “what’s wrong with it?”. "Has it received a poor survey?". "Has a mortgage lender valued it lower than the asking price?". Don’t forget that potential buyers will see (on Rightmove, Zoopla, OnTheMarket etc) any price reductions made and how long the property has been on the market. Invariably, most interest is generated within the first couple of weeks of marketing, and you should set the price to create as much “buzz” as you possibly can in those early weeks.
One point we would stress is that you should be cautious when using “on line” valuation tools. No matter how good their systems or algorithms, they cannot possibly take into account the specific condition of your property or the nuances of the local market.
STEP 3 – MARKETING YOUR PROPERTY
Many agents talk about marketing plans and strategies in the context of web exposure, premium listings, high quality photos etc. These are important, even critical components of selling your home. However, a real marketing strategy goes much further than glossy photos and involves understanding what it is that you are trying to achieve, what are the key selling features of your property, who your target market is, what competition you face etc.
Developing a marketing plan is a two-way process, as nobody knows your property better than you do. At Aspire, we take the time to understand what it is you love about your property and what you think others might love. We also determine whether there are any specific issues that we will need to manage during the sales process. In our experience, being open and honest about any issues with potential buyers gives the best chance to successfully manage through their concerns.
The key elements of our marketing strategy include determining the positive attributes of your property that should be proactively marketed, understanding any issues or concerns to be managed, identifying the target market(s) that the property is most likely to be attractive to, considering alternative properties that would be seen as competitive and then, based on all of this data, developing a specific marketing and advertising plan to reach as wide an audience as possible, but also as specific an audience as possible. Using this approach we can expect to achieve the best price for your property in the shortest period of time.
For more information on developing a marketing plan – see Aspire Residential’s blog at
STEP 4 – PREPARING FOR AND DEALING WITH VIEWINGS
When preparing for viewings, there are some simple steps you can take to positively impact how your home is presented. You don’t have to spend a lot of money in “staging”, but there are some straightforward and cheap things that you can do to improve your home’s selling potential. The most critical point to remember is that “first impressions last”. House buying is as much an emotional decision as it is a logical one. People tend to make up their minds in the first 10 minutes about whether they like a property and whether they want to make an offer. You want to ensure that any potential buyer can quickly identify the positive attributes of your home.
The simple steps that you can take to prepare your home include decluttering all rooms and cupboards, having a deep clean of carpets, curtains etc, undertake any basic repairs that could "turn off" buyers, apply a “lick of paint” in a neutral colour, let in the maximum amount of light possible to each room and give the outside and garden a good tidy up. None of this is expensive, but it will go a long way to presenting your home as favourably as possible
STEP 5 – RECEIVING AN OFFER
Obviously, the monetary value of any offer is critical. However, there are other considerations that should be taken into account before a decision is taken whether to accept an offer. As your agent, we are legally obliged to present you with all offers we receive, however we will also provide you with our independent and objective assessment of the relative “strength of that offer”. It should also be remembered that any initial offer is usually just the start of a “negotiation process”. Buyers might be “testing the water”, and sometimes first offers can be between 5-10% below the asking price. As your agent, we will try to assess whether the buyer has the ability to increase their initial bid and will advise you accordingly.
In assessing the relative strength of any offer, we will take into consideration matters such as the monetary value, how long your house has been on the market, how much other interest we are receiving in your home, the likelihood of receiving an alternative and better offer, the buyers financial position and the overall complexity of any chain.
You should not rush the decision and should take a day or so to fully consider an offer before responding. The last thing you want to do is to say "yes" to a poorly qualified buyer, spend considerable time and money, and then have the transaction fall apart after a couple of months. This is where your Agent’s experience and advice becomes invaluable. It’s frequently said that “any offer is a good offer”. At Aspire, we do not concur with this, as we believe that only a “well qualified offer is a good offer”.
Once you accept an offer, your property will be “sold subject to contract” and will be identified as such on the various property websites.
STEP 6 – SALES PROGRESSION
As a seller, it’s great to experience the euphoria of receiving and accepting an offer on your property. However, unfortunately there is still some considerable work to do before you “pop the cork” to celebrate the sale. You will need to be a little patient in the period between offer and completion, as the overall process seems to take an “eternity” as searches are performed, mortgages are approved, enquiries answered etc.
Many Estate Agents believe that their job is done when they get an offer accepted. The file is handed to a junior member of staff to “keep an eye on things” while the senior team move onto the “next sale”. We do not concur with this approach, as the data clearly shows that after offer, a transaction still has a 40% chance of not completing successfully. At Aspire, we believe that obtaining an offer is only part of our job, and that is why the file stays with our senior staff to manage right through to successful completion of the transaction.
We call this period between offer and completion the “sales progression process”. There are a number of parties involved including solicitors, surveyors, mortgage companies, the buyer and seller and of course, the agent. While much of the work performed during this period happens “behind the scenes”, it still requires a considerable degree of coordination to keep things moving along.
STEP 7 – EXCHANGE OF CONTRACTS
Prior to exchange of contract, there is no obligation on either party to proceed, and either party may withdraw without penalty (other than paying the costs that they have incurred for solicitors, surveyors etc). However, an exchange of contract between solicitors creates a legally binding commitment on both buyer and seller to complete the transaction. If either party withdraws from the transaction after exchange, there will almost certainly be legal and financial consequences.
Once all enquiries and outstanding matters have been dealt with and a formal mortgage offer received by the buyer’s solicitor, exchange of contracts can take place. Both the buyer and the seller will sign identical contracts and the “exchange” is undertaken between solicitors. On exchange, the buyer typically makes a “deposit” payment of 10% of the contract amount to the seller’s solicitor. The balance of the purchase price is paid on the completion date.
It is normal practice to allow between 1 and 4 weeks (with 2 weeks usual) between exchange and completion to allow all of the parties to finalise their preparations.
STAGE 8 - COMPLETION
Completion is the day that you will receive the funds from the sale of your property and the buyer will be handed the keys. Your solicitor or agent will notify you when completion takes place. Depending on the mortgage company, this normally takes place in the morning of the completion date, however where there is a long chain or there are banking delays, it can happen slightly later in the day.
Where you have an outstanding mortgage on the property, the lender will calculate the redemption value as at the date of completion and the solicitor will remit this amount from the proceeds received. Your solicitor will also normally deduct their fees and your estate agents’ fees, and pay any balance to you. Following completion, your solicitor will register the change of ownership with Land Registry.
Congratulations, your property is now sold.