Like you, every property is unique, so we’ll just need a few details before we can make you an offer.
If you’re looking to sell your house, you’re in the right place. Our article covers everything you need to know about selling, from the costs involved to the typical delays, and even information on how to deal with properties that just aren’t selling.
What do I need to know when I sell a house?
When you sell your house, there are several documents that you’ll need handy to help things progress quickly –
1. Proof of your identity:
This can be a utility bill and a passport or driving license – a form of photographic evidence.
2. Property title deeds:
This proves that you own the house and are able to sell it. If you don’t have a copy, you can obtain one from the solicitor that you used to buy the house.
3. Freehold/Leasehold documentation:
This will outline the agreement for your property and highlight any costs that your buyer will need to be aware of.
You need your Energy Performance Certificate, which is updated every 10 years. Depending on when you bought the house, there may still be one valid but if not you will need to redo it.
When you look to sell, you will also need to make sure that you’re setting your asking price right to avoid putting off potential buyers with it being too high or too low.
How is house value determined?
There are several different factors that will affect your house value-
1. Property location:
Houses in the South will generally have a higher value, especially those close to the capital as the cost of living is also higher. Properties in cities will also tend to be higher than more rural areas, but this can change depending on other aspects of the house.
2. Size and layout:
The bigger the house, the higher the value is a fairly safe rule, but this can differ. The layout will also affect value – you could have two houses that are the exact same size, but are proportioned differently which makes one of them much more attractive and easier to live in.
Homes that offer storage will almost always be more popular which will increase the value. Whether it’s attic space, a basement, or plenty of cupboards, storage is a big desire in most buyers’ eyes.
4. The local area:
We all want to feel safe and secure, so properties in areas with low crime rates will have a higher value than those in areas that have more recorded crimes. Reputation can also be a big factor, and if the location is known in the surrounding areas as being a rough or unpleasant area, this will affect the value.
5. Flood Risk:
Properties that are at risk of flooding will often be more expensive and therefore harder to insure, which will affect the value.
This is structural damage and will severely decrease the value of any property. It can be resolved but it’s an expensive and time-consuming process, so often homeowners will choose to drop their asking price to reflect this rather than do the repairs themselves.
7. Local Amenities
Areas that have easier access to supermarkets, pubs, bars and shops will have a higher value than those who don’t have much in the surrounding area, which is why properties in the centre of cities are usually more expensive than those on the outskirts.
8. School catchment areas:
Especially for family homes, being in a catchment area for a desirable school will increase value and usually attract more interest, especially if the school is widely renowned.
9. Local transport links:
Areas that are easier to travel around are more popular, especially for those who don’t have a car.
How do I know how to price my house?
There are several ways that you can decide the price of your house, but the best one is to have the house valued. This will involve a surveyor visiting your property and assessing it to confirm your value, which will then give you a good idea of how to set your asking price.
You can also look at houses in your local area which are similar to yours to see how they are pricing, which will let you know if you’re in the right bracket or not.
A key thing to remember is that there is a lot that can affect your asking price, and if you’re looking to sell your house fast you will realistically need to look at a lower amount to achieve that.
How much does it cost to sell my house?
Homeowners often don’t take into account the costs that come when you sell a house, but there are several that you should keep in mind to make sure you’re fully prepared and that you don’t experience any nasty surprises down the line. Some of these costs include –
1. Estate Agent Fees
These are often some of the highest fees that you pay when you sell your house, as agents will have an agreed percentage (often between 3-5%) of your sale price.
We mentioned this earlier, and if you already have a valid certificate you don’t need to worry about this, but if you do need to renew it, you’ll have to pay for it which can cost between £60-£120.
3. Home Improvements
Homeowners will usually do some redecorating before they sell, and whether this is extensive or just a freshen up throughout the home, this will cost you.
Are there hidden costs?
There are more costs to selling a house, and these are the ones that homeowners sometimes aren’t aware of or just don’t consider until they have to pay for them –
There are several legal aspects to selling a house, and conveyancing is the official transfer of property along with preparing title deeds to make sure that the sale goes through correctly. This can cost as much as £1,500, and some homeowners think that this is included in your estate agent fees, but they aren’t.
Mortgage repayment fees
If you still have a mortgage, you may have to pay a fee when you sell if you were on a fixed term. Not every mortgage lender has this clause in place, but you can ask yours before you sell so you’ve got the information that you need from the start.
Most homeowners will need to hire some help when they move out, whether it’s in the shape of a van or movers. Depending on the amount that you’ve got to move and the distance between your current property and new one, this can add up quickly.
Selling a house is usually a long process, so during this time you will need to pay for the maintenance of the house in the form of mortgage, insurance, council tax, and utility bills which adds up very quickly.
A lot of the time when you sell a house, you’re buying another elsewhere. When you buy a house, you will need to be able to put a deposit down which can be anything from 5-20% of the new property price.
When you’re looking to sell, make sure to keep these costs in mind and make sure that you can afford them all to avoid any difficulty during the process and allow yourself to stay in control throughout.
The common mistakes that homeowners make when they sell – and how to avoid them
Everybody makes mistakes but being able to learn from others is a great opportunity and one that homeowners should make the most of. We’ve looked at some of the most common problems that sellers have run into when they sold and how you can avoid them!
1. Emotional attachments
Especially if you’ve lived in the house for a long time, you will likely have an emotional attachment to it which can increase the stress that typically comes when you sell. Some homeowners will try and ignore these feelings, but ultimately, it’s best to deal with them head on and remind yourself that you’re allowed to feel sad when you sell! Focussing on the new start ahead of you will often help, reminding yourself that you’re selling for the right reasons and that you’re moving in the right direction.
2. The wrong asking price
We’ve talked about how to set the right price for your house already but setting the wrong price can do more than delay your sale.
Overpricing your house will put off potential buyers, especially when they can see that there are other properties in your area that have the same benefits as yours at a lower price. This generally means that you will sit on the open market for months at a time and start to lose value – which results in you lowering your asking price anyway.
Setting your price too low is also likely to put buyers off as they will assume that there is a reason for it. A lot of the time, properties that are suffering with substantial damage and need a lot of work done to make it liveable are cheaper, but this is a smaller market so you can lose a lot of interest this way.
Setting your asking price can seem like a complicated process, but once you’ve done your research, you’ll be much more confident.
3. Expecting your full asking price
One of the main reasons’ estate agents suggest a higher price to you when you sell is because they know most of the offers you will get will be under that asking price, which is where you’ll enter the negotiation stage. Being aware that you probably won’t get your asking price from the off is important, so you don’t over-negotiate and end up pushing away good buyers.
How can I reduce stress when selling?
Selling a house is one of the most stressful things that we can do in life, so being as prepared as you can, will help to reduce the pressure and make things easier for you.
1. Do your research
The best way to reduce the stresses of selling is to do your research and know exactly what to expect. There are all sorts of delays and issues that you can run into when you sell and knowing which are normal and which aren’t, which helps to reduce the stress so you can remind yourself that things are still moving as they should. Conveyancing, for example, can take up to 16 weeks in some cases – but if you didn’t know that you would likely be panicking having to wait that long.
2. Have viewing information in one place
When you have buyers interested in your house, they will ask all sorts of questions and while you probably know the place inside-out, when you’re being asked a flurry of questions in one go it’s easy to lose some of those answers. Keep everything in one place so you can refer to it right away, so whether they want to know the council tax prices, the monthly utility bills, or information about parking restrictions and pricing, you’ve got it handy.
What should I ask an estate agent before selling with them?
If you’re not sure about how you want to sell, the best thing you can do is look into the various options to decide which is going to be the right one for you. Before committing to one agent, ask some questions and make sure that they are going to be able to give you the sale that you’re looking for. Our top questions are –
1. What are your fees?
Agent fees will differ, so make sure you ask this, so you know exactly what you’re agreeing to. You should also check when the fee is incurred – standardly, you shouldn’t have to pay anything until the house sells.
2. What advertising is used?
This will let you know what the agent will do to help you sell – whether they will create floorplans for your online listing, or if they provide a photographer to take advertising pictures. You can also ask if they host viewings or would expect you to do this yourself.
3. What contract do you offer?
There are a few different contracts that estate agents will offer and knowing the difference between them is important as it will affect your sale options.
Sole selling rights:
This means that the agent that you’re signing with is the only agent that can sell your house. Even if you manage to sell to a buyer you find yourself and not through your agent, you will still need to pay the fees.
If you find your own buyer, you don’t need to pay any fees, but if you use another agent and find a buyer this way, you’ll be liable to pay the fees to both agents regardless.
You can use as many agencies as you like to sell, and whichever achieves a sale is who you’ll pay the fees to rather than all of the agents. This can be a popular option but is worth knowing that the fees are usually higher for this contract.
4. What’s the tie-in period?
This can vary from anything between 4-20 weeks, so you want to make sure you ask this. If you don’t, you might find that you want to sell elsewhere but are unable to for another month or two.
5. Are you regulated?
This may seem like an obvious one, but there are agents out there that aren’t regulated, and you don’t tend to find out until something bad brings it to light. Going with a bad agent could result in you losing out on a sale if their negotiation tactics are weak.
6. How long will it take to sell?
An agent can’t promise you a definitive timeframe when you ask this, but they should be able to give you a good idea by analysing your property, the market, and your general area.
7. Will you negotiate and deal with the progression of the sale?
Agents should be keen to do everything they can to achieve your sale – they don’t get their percentage until this point, so it’s in their best interest too. However, don’t assume that they will handle all of this – make sure to ask and find out their process so you know exactly what service you’ll be paying for.
8. How can I contact you?
Bad communication is one of the most difficult things to deal with, and you want to know that your agent is easy to get hold of and keeps you in the loop throughout your sale. Do they answer the phone every time you call, and when you’re told you’ll get a call back, is that promise kept? You shouldn’t have to chase your agent, so this is a good way to check if you’re going to be doing more work than you should need to if they aren’t getting back to you right away.
You can enquire with several agents before committing to one, so ask the questions and see who you’re happiest with before you agree to sell with them.
How do I get rid of a house that won’t sell?
Sometimes, even when you’ve done everything right, you struggle to find a buyer. In this case, some homeowners start to give up, but there are still options for you.
1. Delay your sale:
This will depend on why you’re looking to sell, but if you’re not in a particular rush you can look at pushing your sale back until the market is less saturated. If there’s a lot of houses similar to yours on the market and the demand just isn’t there, you will struggle more to sell, but in a few months’ time this could completely change.
2. Rent it in the meantime:
If you’re selling a property that you’re not living in, such as an inherited house, you can look into renting it until it sells. This will mean that the day-to-day costs of the house like council tax and any potential mortgage payments, as well as a little extra for yourself are there until you are able to sell.
3. Lower your asking price:
Reducing your asking price will often increase the interest in your house but remember that once you lower the price you can’t then put it back up again as your house has now lost that value. This is a good option for properties that have been on the market for a few months with little interest as the value will already be dropping, whereas if you’ve only been on for a few weeks it’s worth waiting a bit longer to see if interest spikes.
4. Alternative selling methods:
For some homeowners, no matter what you do the correct buyer just doesn’t seem to come along. In those cases, for anyone who either can’t or doesn’t want to wait longer for a potential buyer, looking into quick sale companies or selling at an auction might be the right decision. This gives you a way to sell your house fast with more control, but you should make sure that you research these options first and that you’re happy to progress with them.
Are there hidden problems that could stop my sale?
There are a few problems that can make your house harder to sell, such as –
2. Structural issues, especially subsidence
4. Japanese knotweed
While a small amount of damp can be rectified, extensive cases can be a long-term issue that a lot of homeowners don’t want to deal with. Some homeowners don’t even realise that their house is affected until their survey does a damp test and reveals it.
If your house is damp, you can either repair the damaged areas before you sell or you may need to lower your asking price to reflect the cost your buyer will need to factor in to repair themselves. Signs of damp include –
A musty smell
Cold or wet walls, floors, or ceilings
Discoloured, dark patches on your walls
Lifting or peeling wallpaper
Extreme condensation on your windows.
Cracked foundations, rotting window frames and poor insulation are all structural issues which can be expensive and time-consuming to repair, but the worst is subsidence. This can cause –
Cracks that are thicker than a 10p coin
Diagonal cracks wider at the top than the bottom
Crinkling wallpaper at the ceiling joins or in top corners
Doors or windows sticking
Warped doors or window frames
Subsidence is an incredibly expensive and complicated issue to fix and can cost some homeowners £50,000. Some properties with a more extreme case may even be unmortgageable, making it harder to sell, which is when some homeowners will turn to investors and builders who are in a position to take properties on like this and fix them up themselves.
Problems with your location
Sometimes, even if your house is in perfect condition, there are things going on out of your control that puts potential buyers off. It could be that there are new building works about to begin close to the house, or you’re right under a flight path of a very busy airport making for a noisy neighbourhood. Being at risk of flooding will also concern buyers – assess the area and see if any of these apply to you, as this could explain the trouble selling.
This pesky plant is incredibly destructive and difficult to get rid of. Untreated, it can cause structural damage and lose you your sale. If your survey reveals that you have Japanese knotweed on your property, you should have it assessed by a professional to see how extensive it is and deal with is as soon as you can – if it spreads to your neighbours it can even result in you being charged if it’s proved you knew about it and didn’t resolve it.
Why do house sales fall through?
Even when you have a buyer put an offer in, there are still issues that you can face that could result in the deal falling through and you losing your sale. There are several reasons that this happens, but the most common are –
Buyers simply changing their mind with no specific explanation
A higher offer being put in before the exchange of contracts
A buyer unable to secure their mortgage
An unknown issue being revealed in the survey
Delays caused by the estate agent
A break in the chain.
Some of these issues are unavoidable, but there are some things you can do to reduce the chance of your sale falling through.
1. Survey your house before your buyer does:
If you’re aware of any issues that could cause you to lose your sale, make sure it’s either dealt with or that your buyer knows about it from the start. They might be willing to deal with the problem themselves when they move in. Lying to them about the problem will only increase chances of them dropping out, as having a good relationship with your buyer is key to getting the best price possible.
2. Be proactive:
You can’t rush conveyancing, but you can make sure that you’ve got all the paperwork that you need straight away to avoid causing any delays. Often the setbacks seen in conveyancing is incorrect or missing paperwork, so do what you can to avoid this. You can also stay on top of your estate agent and make sure they’re doing everything they can to keep things moving and not sitting on any paperwork that they need to push out to finalise the sale.
3. Have a back-up plan:
A break in the chain can be catastrophic to anyone involved, as one single link can result in several sales being abandoned. If you’re at risk of this, considering a cash buyer can repair the chain and keep things moving for everyone. Cash buyers can act much quicker than a standard buyer as they aren’t relying on mortgage approval and can often be the saving grace in these situations, letting you sell your house fast.