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Guide to Selling Residential Property

This step-by-step guide sets out the framework for how to sell a house and explains the stages you are likely to go through.

Stage One: Should you Sell?

There are many reasons why you might choose to sell your property, from changes in your circumstances from a new baby to divorce, to make the most of the market at the time or maybe you have come into the property through inheritance and wish to release the equity held in the property.

Stage Two: Working out your finances

Before selling your home, you will need to find out how much it is worth. This will enable you to calculate how much money will be left after paying off the mortgage (if you have one) to put down on another property.

Speak with your existing lender or check your mortgage documents to see if you have to pay an early repayment charge for switching your mortgage from one lender to another. It may be possible to take the mortgage with you to the new property. This process is known as porting and means you avoid early repayment fees.

If your mortgage deal is ending or you plan to move to a more expensive property, this is a great opportunity to remortgage to a better deal. Although you should be aware that during the early stages, the figures quoted tend to be approximate. You wont know how much your home will sell for and will only receive a precise redemption figure for your mortgage after you have an agreed date for completion.

Stage Three: Choose an estate agent

You can either choose to market and sell your home yourself, use a high street estate agent or one that works online. You will need to agree on a fee with the estate agent - for sole agents, aim for around 1% plus VAT. Our team can provide you with recommendations of estate agents who our client base trust and have had success with in the past.

Stage Four: Get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

An EPC is a standardised document which ranks properties in terms of their energy efficiency. Sellers need to supply an EPC to potential buyers when they sell their home and need to have at the very least applied for one before putting their home on the market. The most energy-efficient homes are given an A rating, whilst the least efficient are rated G. An EPC costs between £60 and £120.

Stage Five: Preparing your home for sale

Weve all heard of Location, Location, Location and the importance of staging your home. Not only are you more likely to sell your home quicker, but you could make it more valuable too. Working with an interior designer is often beneficial at this stage. They are new and expert eyes that will be able to help you ensure your property is ready to be sold, and attract the highest offers possible.

It is also important not to forget the importance of kerb appeal. Over 68% of homeowners say kerb appeal was an important factor in their choice of home. A landscaper can help you get the surroundings of your property ready for market, ensuring the best use of the space and raising both the kerb appeal and price you could be offered.

Stage Six: Instructing a conveyancing solicitor

To ensure the sale progresses smoothly, you should ideally choose the firm you want to use for your conveyancing before you agree to the sale of your home. You can formally instruct a conveyancing solicitor after you have agreed on an offer. Your estate agent may recommend a solicitor, but it is important you obtain other quotes and compare costs so you know what to expect.

The cost of conveyancing fees varies depending on many factors, such as property location, but are typically between £800 and £1,500, plus the cost of disbursements, such as anti-money laundering checks, searches, and transfer fees, amongst other charges.

Following completion, your solicitor will send you an account covering all their costs and disbursements, as well as the sale price of the property and the redemption of the mortgage. If you are buying and selling at the same time, your solicitor can settle both transactions, including paying stamp duty on the house you are buying.

Stage Seven: Accepting an offer

Your estate agent is legally obliged to pass on all offers to you. If you are unhappy with the offer, you can reject it outright and wait to see if a better offer is made or tell the estate agent to negotiate it upwards. Once you are happy with the offer, you must formally accept it. Accepting an offer is not legally binding, and you can change your mind or accept a higher offer to the point of exchange.

Stage Eight: Completing the relevant questionnaires

As the conveyancing process gets underway, you will have a variety of forms, questionnaires and documents to complete, which gives the buyer all the information about the property and the sale.

Stage Nine: Negotiating the draft contract

You and the buyer (and your solicitors) will have to decide the length of time between exchange and completion. This tends to be around 7 - 28 days after the contracts have been exchanged. You should also indicate what fixtures and fittings will be included in the sale and how much the buyer will pay for them. Any discounts for problems highlighted by the survey should also be included here.

Stage Ten: Exchanging contracts

When you exchange contracts, along with the buyer, you become legally obligated to the sale and purchase. The contract from this point is legally binding, and you can no longer withdraw.

Stage Eleven: Completing the sale

Completion is when the property changes ownership, you accept payment and hand over the keys to the buyer. It will take place on a previously agreed date, usually at midday, although you can move out whenever you like, including the day of completion. The money is transferred, and your solicitor will pay off any outstanding mortgage and register the transfer of ownership with the Land Registry.

The information on this website is intended as a guide and does not constitute legal advice. Vardags do not accept liability for any errors in the information on this website, nor any losses stemming from reliance upon the statements made herein. All articles and pages aim to reflect the legal position at time they were published, and may have been rendered obsolete by subsequent developments in the law. Should you require specialist advice, tailored to your situation, please see how Vardags can help you.

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