You have made the decision to sell, what do you do next? This guide has been put together by Giggs & Company to give you the information to help reduce the stress and make moving home a more enjoyable process.
Choose an agent
Top 5 questions you should ask yourself when choosing your Estate Agent!
Q1. Should you carry out research?
- Take time to research Estate Agents in your area, look for reviews on their websites and seek feedback from past customers.
- Monitor which Agents are selling properties locally. You can do this by looking on the internet, driving around your area and talking to friends, family members and neighbours.
- Before they visit, think about what type of services you want from an Agent particularly any extras, such as professional photography of properties on their website. Do they have a code of practice?
- Select the best two or three Agents as this gives you a good spread of views invite each to inspect your house and give you a valuation of the property. Now you will be able to make an informed decision on which one is the most suitable to sell your house.
During their inspection ask them the following questions:
- How many similar properties have they sold recently?
- At what price?
- How many viewings and how long did it take to sell the properties?
- How many buyers are currently looking for properties like yours?
- Are they a member of either the Property Ombudsman (formerly known as the Ombudsman for Estate Agents) or Ombudsman Services: Property? All Estate Agents must belong to one of these two Office of Fair Trading-approved redress schemes. You can check on the schemes website whether an Agent is a member.
- What price would they market your property for?
- What price would they expect you to achieve?
- What price would they consider if you were looking for a ‘quick sale’?
- Who will do the viewings?
- Can you have a copy of the Agency's contract?
- Will they organise the Energy report and what is the cost?
- How and where will they promote your property?
- Which property websites do they advertise on?
- What are their charges and at what stage do you have to pay?
- Are there any up-front fees? Or costs if you decide to withdraw your property?
- When the deal is agreed will they progress the sale liaising with the Solicitors and keep you regularly updated on the progress?
Q2. What will you get for your fees?
- Typically, people rely on two main criteria when deciding to instruct an Estate Agent. They will pick the one which either charges the lowest commission rate or offers the highest sale price.
- Instruct the Agent who inspires you with confidence by showing trust and integrity; they will have the same effect on the potential buyers of your home.
- The question to consider is will you get less if you pay less?
- How hard will they try to make a sale?
- How well do you think they will be at negotiating offers on your behalf?
Q3. What will happen if your property is overvalued?
- Inexperienced or easily lead Agents typically overvalue the property and more often than not this can end up with a negative impact on your eventual sale price. It can lower your expectations on your next move.
- You may have to accept a much lower price when the house has been on the market for a considerable time.
- Buyers get suspicious and often wonder why no one else wants to buy a property when it has been available for some time.
- Ask the Agent how they have arrived at the value of your house.
Q4. What should you expect from your chosen Estate Agent?
- What is important to you?
- List down the things you expect and ask them to demonstrate how they can meet these expectations.
- Fees and valuation aside, judge your Agent by the way you feel about him/her and their company ethos. Are you comfortable working with them?
- Are you feeling confident in their ability to help you sell at the best price?
- Be fair with your expectations but make it clear why you want those standards.
Q5. How important is the presentation of your house?
- Professional Agents recognise the importance of presentation; don’t feel awkward to discuss this with them. Is there any advice or simple improvements which could be done to achieve a higher price.
- Are you prepared to do what it takes to make a sale and achieve the best price from the eventual buyer?
You have chosen your Agent and your house is going on the market - what do you do next?
Ensure the house is ready for viewings: think of what your potential buyer will see when they walk through the door and remind yourself why you bought it. Here are some pointers:
- De-clutter- have a look round your rooms, if you are moving do you really need everything in the room? Potential buyers will be looking at what space is available to them.
- Minor repairs- have a look at the walls, fill any holes and remove any negatives a potential buyer may see. If you decide to paint a wall/ceiling choose neutral colours that will appeal to a wider audience.
- Air the house - add air fresheners, this will also neutralise any pet, smoke or cooking smells. Fresh flowers will brighten up a room and give a homely feeling.
- Gardens- again potential buyers will be looking at space and usability, ensure the lawn is cut and borders are weeded. During the summer months, show potential seating areas, and during winter store away any outside furniture or empty pots to maximise space.
You have received an offer- what do you do now?
- Be prepared to negotiate to ensure you get the best price.
- Make it clear if any items are included in the price, this can also be a great bargaining tool, you can negotiate a higher offer if you are prepared to include, cooker, curtains blinds etc. Ensure your Agent is clear on what these items are and that they are included in the memorandum of sale.
- Ask for the status of the purchaser, are they cash buyers or do they need a mortgage? If they are getting a mortgage do they have an agreement in principle?
- Have they sold their house or are they in rented accommodation? These questions will help determine the length of the chain and the timing of your move. Sometimes a lower offer from a better-placed buyer may be more beneficial, depending on what your plans are.
- Ensure your Agent has checked the monetary and accommodation statuses of your potential buyer and that Solicitors have been instructed before you agree to take the property off the market.
The sale is now agreed subject to contract - what happens next?
Choose a Solicitor who can work with you and your Estate Agent. Make sure your buyer’s circumstances and financial status are thoroughly checked out. If you have no one to help you at this stage it can become very frustrating and stressful so make sure you can communicate with your Agent, Mortgage Broker and Solicitor. Once you have appointed a Solicitor you will need to give them the following information:
- Your Mortgage Roll number and ID- this will enable them to check the legal and financial status of the property.
- Complete the terms of conditions and the questionnaire about your property with information for example when the windows were replaced, when the boiler was last serviced, where the boundary lines are, any disputes with neighbours, any extensions or modifications to the property etc- please note that Solicitors will ask for all certificates for any works carried out on the property so if you can locate them, sending them on at this stage will speed up the selling process.
- Submit a fixtures and fittings list again only detailing things included in the price of the sale.
- Discuss searches you require and submit funds to carry these out.
- Disclose any other information crucial to the sale, i.e. any dates that you are unable to move due to other commitments.
- Respond to any queries/enquiries from your Solicitor swiftly, again to keep the sale moving along.
Your Agent will update you during the progression of the sale, normally every 2 weeks, keep in touch with your Solicitor as well to see if there is anything else they need from you.
You have exchanged contracts, what happens now?
A completion date would have been set for your move, now it’s time to pack! Here are a few pointers of things to remember:
- Redirect mail to your new address; contact the local Post Office they will help you with this process. Alternatively, you can arrange this online on the Post Office website.
- Fill in any holes when you take down any pictures or other fittings.
- Clear any rubbish from the property and leave the bins empty, this can lead to a charge if anything is left within the property including the garage/shed/loft.
- On your moving day ensure you read the meters for the Utilities and notify each provider with the readings and your new address. This is best done after your move so you can advise them of both at the same time.
Today you will receive a call from your Agent to let you know that funds have been received and where you need to drop the keys off. If you are buying on, you will also receive a call as to where to collect your new keys from.