Once you've decided
to sell up, your first port of call is probably
going to be an estate agent. They'll usually
take a few brief details about your house
over the phone, then arrange a time when
someone can pop over to see the place.
During the visit, detailed
particulars are taken, such as the number
of rooms, their size, special features,
heating system, age of the building, mains
services, garage/parking facilities, garden
and so on. Photos are also taken, so make
sure things are presentable and tidy before
they turn up.
The agent will then
give their opinion on what price you should
be asking for, based on their assessment
of the property's market value. It's best
to get more than one estate agent's opinion,
but don't automatically go with whoever
gives you the highest valuation because
no matter how great your house is, it won't
sell if it's overpriced.
Once you've chosen
an agent, they'll put together a draft of
particulars and hand them to you for approval.
Although the agent will want to emphasise
the property's good points, the description
must be accurate, otherwise they could face
severe penalties, including heavy fines
After agreeing on a
date for launching the sale, the agent will
book advertising space in the local press
or property guide. They are also likely
to circulate the particulars to home seekers
on their mailing list, and draw the attention
of other applicants to the property.
Meanwhile, you need
to advise your solicitor of the fact you're
selling up and start taking the required
legal steps. It's advisable to get in touch
with a solicitor as soon as you decide to
put your house on the market, as this will
save valuable time later on and ensure you
are prepared for a quick sale.
Although sales can
go through in a matter of weeks, unfortunately
it doesn't always work this way. Be prepared
to be patient - and be realistic in your
expectations. This may mean being flexible
about offers too.
There is plenty of
advice available on how to make your home
more attractive to potential buyers, but
bear in mind that not everyone will love
your home as much as you do. Even if your
property is perfectly presented and in a
prime location, some house-hunters may reject
it because it just doesn't "feel right"
to them. So don't be too quick to blame
your estate agent if the house seems stuck
on the market.
Once a buyer has materialised
and put in an acceptable bid, the result
will be an "offer subject to contract."
This means the sale is agreed, but not legally
binding until contracts are exchanged. At
this point, either party can change their
minds without facing legal penalties.
If the buyer hasn't
already got a mortgage in place, now is
the time for them to find a lender and they
should also appoint a surveyor to check
If the survey turns
up any problems, the buyer may pull out
or insist on a reduced price. If this happens,
leave all negotiations to the agent - it
is part of the service you are paying for.
Providing all is well
with the survey, the matter then moves to
the buyer's solicitor or conveyancer, whose
task it is to find out all about the property
before contracts are drafted.
These enquiries include
'local searches', to ensure that the property
is not threatened by compulsory purchase
When the solicitor
is sure everything is in order, both parties
will be invited to exchange contracts, which
include all relevant details, such as names,
addresses, description of the property,
price, deposit paid and so on. Once both
parties sign a copy of this contract, they
are legally bound by it.
The sale is normally
completed several weeks after contracts
are exchanged, when the mortgage money is
paid to your solicitor, and the keys handed
over to the buyer.