So, you’ve decided to sell your house for the first time. At Optimal Solicitors, we understand that selling a house may seem daunting and stressful. Our aim is to reduce this stress and make your conveyancing process run as smoothly as possible. In this first time home seller guide, you’ll find out more about the conveyancing process of selling a property.
COSTS AND FEES OF SELLING YOUR HOUSE
When you sell your house, you’ll need to be prepared for the many costs and fees that come with it. You should factor in these costs early on to avoid any surprises later on. Make a note of these costs before you commit to selling:
Estate agent fees
Estate agent fees include advertising your property on websites and conducting viewings, as well as liaising with other parties involved to complete the sale.
You should check if there are any penalties for exiting your mortgage early. For example, you may have to pay an exit fee or early repayment charges.
Working with a conveyancer or legal solicitor will help with all the legal aspects of selling your property. This is known as ‘conveyancing’. You’ll pay either a fixed fee or a percentage of the value of the property.
A word on covenants
One of the most commonly asked questions is whether you have observed and performed the ‘covenants’ contained in the title documents.
A covenant is a formal agreement between two parties. There are two different types of covenants – positive and restrictive:
- A positive covenant requires some form of action to be taken.
- A restrictive covenant prohibits you from using the land in a specific way.
Your conveyancer will send you the title documents. Make sure that you read them carefully before answering this question. If you discover that one of the covenants has been breached, let your conveyancer know so that they can advise you on how to deal with this.
Energy performance certificate (EPC)
An EPC provides information about the energy efficiency of your home, using a scale from A to G, “A” being the most efficient and “G” being the least. Providing an EPC is essential to encourage prospective buyers.
Before you leave the property, take final meter readings. You may want to take photographs for better record keeping. Contact your service provider and advise them that you are moving. You should also remember to put yourself on the electoral register at your new property and update your ID documents, such as your driving licence.
If you are moving in to a new home, make a list of what you want to transport to the new property and donate any unwanted or unnecessary items. By doing this, you will save yourself money and time. You’ll benefit from a smaller van and your removal team will need less time.
PREPARING YOUR HOUSE TO SELL
When selling your home, you should do everything you can to show buyers your property’s potential. Helping them picture themselves living in your home is likely to sell your home quicker, and you may even get better offers. Here are three ways to spruce up your home in preparation for a sale:
Having a home filled with clutter will sometimes make it difficult for buyers to picture themselves living there. Clean the house thoroughly, including the garden shed and the attic. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and do not leave any nasty surprises behind, including unwanted or broken items or rubbish.
Too many personal items or furniture can overpower a room and almost make it appear smaller than it is. Consider moving some items into an external storage space to remove clutter until after your move.
Look at your home objectively…does it need some TLC? Selling your house is a priority, so consider if some areas need to be tidied up with a paint job. Don’t go overboard as these costs can mount up – just try to clear up any cracks or dull areas with a dash of colour.
Fix up the little things
When a buyer comes to view your property, the little things that you may ignore daily will stand out. Look around every room in your house, write down any ‘quick fixes’ and get them sorted as soon as possible.
Arrange electrical and gas safety inspection reports. It is not a legal requirement and you do not have to agree to the buyer’s request, but it is a courtesy. The only exception to this is if you’re selling to somebody who will move in renting tenants.
The buyer’s solicitors may also ask for building regulations certificates if the property has had works carried out which required certification. If you don’t have these, don’t panic. Your conveyancer will discuss the issue with the buyer’s solicitors.
The easiest option would be to arrange a ‘Lack of Building Regulation Indemnity Policy’. This will provide cover in the event of the Local Authority taking enforcement action for being in breach of Building Regulations. However, the policy does not provide cover for any defective works. The cost of the insurance is directly linked to the cost of the house, and your conveyancer will arrange this on your behalf.
CHOOSING HOW TO SELL YOUR PROPERTY
Once you’ve decided to sell your property, the first step is to decide how to sell it. You have three options: you can sell your home yourself, use a local estate agent or an online estate agent.
If you use a local estate agent, you will need to do some research into which is the most suitable option for you. Once you have chosen, you can invite an estate agent into your home to value the property. This will give you a clear idea of what you can sell it for in the current local property market and can help you decide which agent you want to work with.
Questions to ask your estate agent
- What are your fees, and are there any other costs?
- How will you market my home?
- How much is my property worth?
- Do you have a list of buyers already interested in property similar to mine?
GET YOUR PAPERWORK IN ORDER
Before you instruct your solicitors, you should have all the required documents ready. It’s a good idea to store all important documents such as title deeds, guarantees, building compliance certificates and any other documentation that can help the buyer, as this will help speed up the transaction. You can also create electronic copies of important documents and save them on your computer.
To save time, send all these documents along with initial forms to your conveyancer. They can then send these to your buyer’s solicitor along with the draft contract pack.
At the beginning of the transaction, your conveyancer will send you the property information form and fixtures and fittings form. Make sure that you answer all the questions truthfully and to the best of your knowledge.
When they receive the draft contract pack, the buyer’s solicitors will raise enquires and your conveyancer will contact you to discuss them. Try to answer all questions as fully as possible. Again, if you are unsure about anything, it is best to contact your conveyancer to check.
ORGANISING YOUR HOME FOR VIEWINGS
When it comes to viewings, don’t make buyers imagine how good it could be – show them! Presentation is crucial as it allows you to showcase the strengths of your property. Buyers are coming to look around your property, so make sure your home is at its best. Whether you are selling or buying a house, presentation matters. Here are some top tips for getting your home ready for viewings.
Both front and back gardens are crucial for viewings. Many buyers will make a drive-by visit to your property before arranging an initial viewing. Tidy up the outside of your home regularly. Trim the lawn and hedges, and remove any weeds or overgrown flowers from pathways. For many people, the garden is one of the biggest selling points, so presentation matters.
Living areas and bathrooms
Start by decluttering. Having clutter in your home can make rooms appear and feel smaller than they are. Make sure any distinctive features of your home can be fully showcased. Let in natural daylight by drawing back the curtains or blinds. If you’re selling during the winter, make sure the house is warm. If not, let fresh air in by opening the windows.
Clean and polish all surfaces, handles, cupboard fronts and appliances. Clean inside your oven and any other integrated appliances that will be included in the sale. Make sure your sink and draining areas are spotless and completely clear from clutter. If you have pets, make sure bowls and toys are cleared away, and always open windows slightly to let out any lasting aromas.
Potential buyers are interested in seeing every room, so make sure every area is tidy. If you have children, tidy away any toys or clothing to ensure viewers have a clear walkway.
CONSIDERING AND ACCEPTING OFFERS
Receiving an offer on your property can be a very exciting time, but it is always a good idea to keep level-headed to make sure you get the best offer for you and your circumstances.
Considering an offer
Many buyers usually offer slightly less than the advertised asking price, so be aware that some initial offers may be lower than expected.
There is no need to accept or reject any offers right away. It is normal to take time to think things over for a few days. If you’re unsure about accepting an offer on your property, you can check local sold house prices to get an overall idea of what other properties in your area have been bought or sold for.
Always ask your conveyance or estate agent what position the buyer is in before you make any decisions. Here are some crucial questions to have in mind:<
- What are the buyer’s financial decisions?
- Does the buyer have all their documents ready?
- What is the buyer’s timeline for moving?
Accepting an offer
If you do accept an offer, it is usually ‘subject to contract’, which means as long as a survey doesn’t add any surprises, the buyer will most likely complete the sale. Remember that accepting an offer is not legally binding until the contracts are exchanged. You can legally change your mind or accept a higher offer later, but this can be quite distressing to the buyer. This means that a buyer can back out of the sale at any given time too.
HOW WE CAN HELP
At Optimal Solicitors, we understand that selling a house is a stressful experience and your conveyancer will do their best to keep you updated throughout the process.
It is common that some transactions do not proceed pre-exchange due to personal circumstances or adverse discoveries in the searches. While this may be discouraging, stay positive. Inform your conveyancer and they will put your file on hold until you find a suitable buyer again. Our ‘no sale, no fee’ agreement means that you will only pay if your transaction completes.