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I Need Help Selling My House

Property Saviour » Problematic Properties » I Need Help Selling My House

Selling a house can be a big deal, and it is not unsurprising that you need help because an average homeowner moves every 19 years or so.

In this article, we share our practical tips to ensure that your sale is as seamless as possible.

Table of Contents

Understand your finances

When selling your home, you’ll need enough money to pay off any remaining mortgage, if one exists. Speak with your lender or broker to determine how much you owe, including any potential penalties for early repayment.

You should also factor in:

  • Any other debts secured against the property
  • Estate agent fees
  • An Energy Performance Certificate fee (unless exempt or it’s already valid)
  • Legal fees
  • Land registry fees
  • Removal costs
  • Capital gains tax if the property isn’t your primary home or it includes a lot of land
  • Essential repairs or improvements

It’s important to know the property’s likely value so you can compare it to the mortgage balance and other moving costs. When you know how much money you’ll get from selling your property, you can budget for your next move.

Do this early on to avoid delaying the final exchange of contracts.

Before you market your home – getting ‘sale ready’

Before you start to consider selling your property, make sure you’ve got all your paperwork in order and that your home is ready for sale.

Take some time to get everything prepared.

Do probate properties sell for less?
You can look up the most recent EPC for your property on the online EPC register.

Stick it out

Your estate agent and solicitor will need various pieces of information during the selling process.

You may have received some of them when you purchased your property, but it’s best to get all the relevant documents together now to avoid future delays and give your estate agent the key information to share with prospective buyers.

If you bought your home recently, it should have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which is valid for 10 years, unless something has happened to affect the rating – in which case, you will need a new EPC. You can look up the most recent EPC for your property on the online EPC register.

In most cases, you must commission an EPC if your property doesn’t have an up-to-date one. However, if your home is listed or in a conservation area, you may not need an EPC.

Other paperwork you may already have includes:

  1. HM Land Registry title documents
  2. Gas checks completed by a Gas Safe registered engineer (or Corgi-registered engineer before 2009)
  3. Electrical checks – an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) or a NAPIT or NICEIC certificate/report from a registered electrical competent person
  4. FENSA or CERTAS certificates for windows
  5. Planning permission for any major work carried out
  6. Building regulation completion certificates and builder’s guarantee certificates for alterations or additions
  7. Subsidence guarantees/warranties
  8. Damp guarantees/warranties
  9. Party wall agreements (if relevant)
  10. If a listed building, listed building consent for interior and exterior works
  11. If your home is in a conservation area, conservation area consent for works
  12. Japanese knotweed management plans (if relevant)
  13. Specialist asbestos surveys (if relevant)
  14. Any title insurance policies you may have taken out to solve title defects

When you decide to sell your property, your solicitor will check the title and other information. This can help you avoid any potential issues before you even find a buyer, as well as save you a lot of time.

While it’s possible to do some of the work yourself, you should be aware that mistakes could be very costly. You might even be sued by a buyer if the information is inaccurate.

When you bought your first home, you usually needed to pay a cash deposit. But if you’re selling and buying at the same time, you may not have the full deposit available. In this case, you can transfer the equity from your current property to the next.

If the new home is more expensive, it’s important to check with the seller that they’re happy to accept a reduced deposit.

When you come to sell, your solicitor will ask for a Property Information Form (TA6) and a TA7 form if you’re selling a leasehold property. You can find a draft version on the Law Society’s website, so it’s worth gathering whatever information you can in advance.

ID checks

Estate agents, solicitors, and mortgage lenders must, by law, verify your identity to guard against money laundering. Therefore, you need to present them with proof of your identity (including photographic ID) and proof of your address.

How to make your home sale ready
Don't get too excited if you get a high valuation, as it doesn't guarantee you'll get that price.

Making your home ‘sale ready’

Before you start the process of instructing an estate agent and begin viewings, it’s important to ensure your home looks its best. Investing a little time and money now could help you to get a better price when you sell. Here are some things to consider:

  • Kerb appeal– what will potential buyers think when they arrive at your property? Does it need a fresh coat of paint, or does the front garden need some tidying up?
  • Snags – you might not notice any unfinished DIY projects, but they could put off a buyer. Try to fix any such issues.
  • Tidy, de-clutter and clean– aim to make your home inviting.
  • Review your Energy Performance Certificate– if the EPC was done some time ago, think about whether it still reflects your property now. 
  • You may also want to get your boiler serviced, and an electrical installation condition report carried out.

Leasehold

If you own a leasehold property, there are a few pieces of key information that your buyer needs to know and your agent has to provide. These can include:

  1. How much time is left on the lease? If it is below 80 years, you may need to extend it before selling. Some lenders are hesitant to lend money for leasehold properties with less than 80 years remaining.
  2. Get a copy of the lease or a leasehold information pack, which will show how much time is left on the lease. Your legal representative should be able to get this for you.
  3. Know the key terms of the lease, like service charges, ground rent and event fees.
  4. Have all documents related to service charges, like accounts, share certificates, memorandum and articles, buildings insurance and recent correspondence from the freeholder or managing agent.
  5. Check if any major works are planned for the property, e.g. replacing the roof.
  6. Know the fire risk and other assessments (e.g. asbestos).


Contact the freeholder as soon as possible to get the leasehold information pack to avoid delays. They may charge you for providing it.

Valuations and price

When it comes to putting your property up for sale, it’s important to do your research and to ask a local estate agent for their opinion on the price. Ultimately, however, the decision is yours.

Property valuations don’t always reflect the eventual sale price- this will depend on how much the buyer is willing to pay and the current market conditions.

To get an idea of what your property is worth, have a look at property websites and estate agent windows to see the asking and selling prices for similar properties in the area.

You can also find the agreed purchase price for properties from the HM Land Registry.

To get a clearer picture of your property’s value, ask three estate agents to value it for you. This isn’t a formal valuation – you’ll need to hire a qualified RICS surveyor.  It will give you a better idea of its worth.

Ask the estate agent for evidence to support their valuation, such as similar properties they’ve recently sold.

Don’t get too excited if you get a high valuation, as it doesn’t guarantee you’ll get that price. If you list your property for a much higher price than the estate agent’s valuation, it might take a long time to sell, or you may not get any offers at all.

selling rented property
If you are selling your rental property to someone who plans to live there, many of the same steps apply as if you were selling a property you live in yourself.

Selling a rented property

Selling a property you currently rent out can be complex. We recommend getting expert advice as there are numerous factors to consider, including taxes. 

If you are selling your rental property to someone who plans to live there, many of the same steps apply as if you were selling a property you live in yourself.

Selling in special circumstances

These are several scenarios where a property must be sold.  These include:

Probate

  • Applying for probate can take several weeks or months, depending on the complexity of the estate. However, you can start marketing the property while you wait for probate to be granted. Get a realistic RICS valuation to calculate inheritance tax.
  • You should consider how to keep the property safe while it is uninhabited.
  • This may include putting on the heating during the winter to prevent damp and paying for empty home insurance. Ensure the property is insured if empty, as many policies won’t cover you if the property is vacant for more than 30 or 60 days. 
  • Sign up for the HM Land Registry Property Alert service to monitor the property against the risk of title fraud.

Niche retirement properties

These are niche properties which must have an owner-occupier to be over the age of 50. You should be aware of:

  1. Charges may be incurred and only paid when the owner passes away.
  2. There could be restrictions on the sale of the property, such as it can only be sold to another elderly person.
  3. You may need to pay an exit fee to the landlord or management company when you sell the property.
Selling a property under power of attorney
Selling a property with a power of attorney is complex. It will depend on what kind of power of attorney is in place - whether it is a lasting power of attorney or an enduring power of attorney.

Selling under power of attorney

A power of attorney grants an individual the authority to make or help make decisions concerning another person’s property, including selling their home. Lasting powers of attorney can be used both before and after the donor’s capacity is lost, in accordance with their wishes.

Selling a property with a power of attorney is complex. It will depend on what kind of power of attorney is in place – whether it is a lasting power of attorney or an enduring power of attorney.

If you are looking to sell a property on behalf of someone else, get in touch with us.

How to choose an estate agent

An estate agent can help you negotiate the sale of your property between you and the buyer and will list it on relevant property portals. It may be tempting to go with the agent who has given the highest valuation, though this is not a guarantee of the sale price.

They may recommend that you lower the price at a later date.

When selecting an estate agent, there are a few things to consider:

  • Online or high street estate agents – each has advantages and disadvantages. You may want to have an estate agent you can meet in person, or it might be more beneficial to go with an online agency due to the lower cost. 
  • Make sure you understand the fee structure – will you be charged if your property doesn’t sell? Are there any extra fees for post-sales progression? Are there penalties? Don’t be afraid to negotiate.
  • Do you want to do viewings yourself? Some estate agents offer cheaper packages if you do. It’s also worth checking whether there’s a dedicated sales progressor who can help and advise you between offer and completion.
  • It’s useful to read online reviews and see what other customers have said about the service they received.
  • Check if your contract gives the agent sole selling rights – if so, you’ll have to pay the estate agent even if you find your own buyer during the period agreed.
  • Make sure you understand what happens after 3 or 6 months – can you switch agents without penalties? Will you have to give notice to your first estate agent? If you switch, will you have to pay fees to both agents when you find a buyer?

Last but not least, look for membership of a representative body. This requires estate agents to sign up to a code of practice or membership rules.

Examples include the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Referrals

An estate agent can be a good source of recommendations for solicitors, mortgage brokers, energy assessors, or surveyors. They might recommend a company and receive a referral fee from them.

This is standard practice, but both the estate agent and the company should make it clear to you how much the referral fee is, allowing you to make an informed decision.

You don’t have to follow the estate agent’s recommendation; it’s your choice. Shop around for the best deals; however, be aware that multiple lender applications can affect your credit score if you’re looking for a mortgage for another property.

If you’re unsure, ask your mortgage provider for more information about whether these are soft or hard credit checks.

You must Instruct a conveyancer or other legal representative
It is best to select your solicitor shortly before listing your home or as soon as it is up for sale, as this will help avoid delays.

Instruct a Solicitor

A solicitor is a legal professional with the responsibility of transferring the ownership of a home from you to the buyer.

It is best to select your solicitor shortly before listing your home or as soon as it is up for sale, as this will help avoid delays.

Several qualified and regulated professionals can carry out conveyancing work, including solicitors, licensed conveyancers, chartered legal executives and CILEx practitioners.

All information about how to check if the appropriate body regulates your legal professional can be found on the Legal Choices web pages for each conveyancing professional.

It is wise to get quotes from more than one solicitor before making a decision.

  • When choosing one, you should take into account the price – are there any hidden costs, and will they be paid for your custom
  • Is there a no-move, no-fee service available? 
  • Are there any online reviews?
  • Do they have the expertise needed for more complex properties, such as leasehold and listed buildings?
  • You should assess the service – will there be a named contact?
  • How will they communicate with you (phone, email, etc.) and how often?
  • Are their opening hours suitable for you?
  • Do they have experience with conveyancing properties in your area?

Fraud

Selling a home involves transferring large amounts of money and can draw the attention of criminals.  The risk of title fraud is low, you should remain alert to potential scams. 

Showing your property

Your property must look, smell, and feel clean, tidy, and inviting – regardless of who’s showing it. Clear away any clutter and make sure to do a thorough clean before any viewings.

To give viewers a better sense of the space, consider putting a bed in the smallest bedroom.

Your estate agent may also need to show the garden, loft, or garage, so make sure they have access to those areas.

To stay informed, ask the agent to collect feedback from each viewing.  This will help you to address any issues or adjust the asking price as needed.

Open house viewings can be an alternative to traditional viewings that take place over the course of a few weeks.

Choosing a house buyer
See if the buyer is willing to enter into a reservation agreement to show they are committed to buying the property and are willing to pay you compensation if they back out.

Choosing a buyer

Estate agents must inform you of all offers, regardless of whether they are lower than the asking price or if you have already accepted another offer. Don’t feel pressured to accept an offer right away.

Think about the following:

  1. Amount of the offer – would you be satisfied with it? How much do comparable homes in the area usually sell for? If the buyer is paying cash or with a mortgage – have they been approved for a loan already? Is the buyer part of a chain or not?
  2. A chain is a series of related property transactions. It starts with a buyer who doesn’t own a property (e.g. a first-time buyer) and ends with a seller who isn’t also buying a property (e.g. if the property is being sold due to the owner’s death). If one transaction is delayed or fails, it can have a domino effect on the other transactions in the chain.
  3. First-time buyers or renters don’t have a chain, so there’s less potential for delay. If the buyer is part of a chain, consider the length of the chain (how many buyers and sellers are involved) and whether the chain is open or closed.
  4. An open chain happens when one or more buyers haven’t been able to sell their homes, adding significant delays to the process.
  5. See if the buyer is willing to enter into a reservation agreement to show they are committed to buying the property and are willing to pay you compensation if they back out.

Negotiating

At this stage, you and the buyer have agreed to a sale; however, the details of the agreement have yet to be settled.

It is important to remember that neither of you is legally obligated to the sale until the contracts have been signed and exchanged. Only then will the agreement be legally binding.

Enquiries

During the process, the buyer’s solicitor will raise enquiries. These may be about the information they have asked for or received, such as the title, searches, or the mortgage offer. They may also be questions about the property or transaction.

Questions can be raised at any point in the process, including right before the end.

Usually, they are answered by your solicitor, although you may need to provide input. It’s important to answer them since the buyer’s solicitor needs to meet the lender’s requirements.

You don’t need to respond to questions about conditions, questions which you don’t know the answer to or questions which the buyer can figure out on their own. Your solicitor can guide you on how to answer these enquiries.

Accepting a house sale offer
If you have accepted an offer but have not yet exchanged contracts, your property is said to be ‘sold subject to contract', meaning that the paperwork has not been finalised.

Accepting an offer

Once you have accepted an offer, the buyer will direct their solicitor to conduct searches and review the title of the property.

They may also contact you to ask questions about your home or request that a mortgage valuer or builder have access to the property to carry out assessments. These all indicate that they are serious about purchasing the property.

Remember that the property is not legally sold until written contracts have been exchanged between you and the buyer. A bad survey could result in a buyer pulling out of a purchase.

If you have accepted an offer but have not yet exchanged contracts, your property is said to be ‘sold subject to contract’, meaning that the paperwork has not been finalised.

'Quick house sales'

There are several businesses that offer ‘quick house sales’. These providers offer to buy a property quickly, often at a discount.  Quick sale companies offer you certain and speed of sale but not all are the same.  More on that later.

Exchange of contracts

When contracts are exchanged, the buyer may want to visit the house to measure up for carpets or to get an estimate for building work.

However, they must not do any work before completion.

You should inform the utility and phone companies that you are moving and ask for final readings of the meters on completion day.

You should contact the responsible person at the council or the Rate Collection Agency in Northern Ireland for council tax or rates collection.

If the buyer is paying a deposit, this will be paid to your solicitor at the exchange of contracts, and the solicitor will keep it until completion.

our solicitor will get the balance of the purchase price from the buyer and will give this to you, along with the deposit.

Completion

You must make sure that the house is empty by the completion date and that you have handed over all the keys. Your solicitor will get the balance of the purchase price from the buyer and will give this to you, along with the deposit.

Sell To Us!

Sell to us and get cash quickly! Property Saviour can purchase your house in as little as seven days with no fees.

Get a free, no-obligation quote in under 24 hours. We guarantee a sale on any property. Plus, funds arrive in just seven days.

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Property Saviour Price Promise

  • The price we’ll offer is the price that you will receive with no hidden deductions.
  • Be careful with ‘cash buyers’ who require a valuation needed for a mortgage or bridging loan.
  • These valuations or surveys result in delays and price reductions later on.
  • We are cash buyers.  There are no surveys.
  • We always provide proof of funds with every formal offer issued.
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  • No long exclusivity agreement to sign because we are the buyers.
  • You are welcome to use your own solicitor. 
  • If you don’t have one, we can ask our solicitors for recommendations.
  • We share our solicitor’s details and issue a Memorandum of Sale. 
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