The first step in selling your home is selecting the best agent for the purpose and who you feel comfortable working with.
The digital age has resulted in a very different marketing process and you need to select an agent that reflects this. Check that your agent advertises across Rightmove, Zoopla, On The Market, and Boomin.
1. Creating the best digital marketing
The first contact with your property most potential purchasers has is via an online portal, because of this it is very important that your property is presented correctly with professional photographs. The photos are what will differentiate your property on the portal listings and encourage clicks through to the full listing.
Once on your listing we believe it is important to provide a full 3D Virtual Tour of your property, this reduces the barriers to potential purchasers seeing your property. It helps result in fewer viewings but a faster sale, as any potential applicant will have already virtually viewed your property. We also prefer this method over video tours as it allows greater flexibility on what the purchaser wishes to view, for example they can zoom in on the Kitchen if that is an important factor in their purchase, something you can’t do with video.
Check how your agent utilises social media and their database. Do they have posts linked directly to individual listings, how frequently are these sent out, do they offer any other digital marketing strategies?
Finally take into account the commission the agents are asking for their service, is this on a no sale no fee basis, what are the contract times in periods, are there any additional hidden costs for photography, conducting viewings etc.
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property will be required, these last for 10 years, your agent should be able to help you arrange for one if you do not have one.
Once you have found your agent it is important to set a realistic price level for your property. Whilst it is only natural for people to feel their homes are special and possibly worth more than similar properties, it is important to listen to your agent’s advice on what is a reasonable expectation for your property. As a rule, the higher you market from the agent’s initial guidance the longer it will take to garner interest in your property, this may also be evident in the level of viewings, and online click through rates when marketing your property.
2. Preparing your home for photographs
Presenting your property in the best possible light is essential, as it is such a vital point here is a full guide of what to do before having photos taken:
Following this pre-shoot checklist will help ensure that your home/property is photographed quickly, efficiently and with the best possible results.
- Remove vehicles from driveway and away from the front of the home/property.
- Place bins and anything that is not attached to the home out of site.
- Cut the grass and remove any unsightly weeds or vegetation.
- Clean the windows.
- Organize deck furniture, uncover grill, open patio umbrella, etc.
- Sweep the driveway, if necessary.
- Make sure the garden is free of kid’s toys, evidence of pets, unnecessary clutter etc.
- Remove as much clutter as possible; especially personal belongings that are not included in the sale. Decluttered and tidy makes a bigger difference than “spotless”.
- Put away unsightly door mats and remove area rugs that might be hiding nice flooring, like hardwood or tile.
- Remove all evidence of pets.
- Open up blinds and remove any fixed window coverings that block natural light.
- Turn off all TVs / computer screens.
- Conceal power cords; unplug them if necessary.
- Put all shoes away.
- Make sure there are no clothes in the machines or hanging around. Make beds, straighten picture frames/artwork, organize pillows, etc.
- Avoid hiding items under beds or furniture.
- Remove any personal information that you wouldn’t want visible online, including photos.
- Clear all counter tops – A few small appliances, fruit bowls, plants etc. are fine, but avoid anything tall that might be distracting or that block the view.
- Clear the outside of the fridge completely – Remove all magnets, photos, lists, etc.
- Clean appliances – Be sure to remove all fingerprints, smudges, etc.
- Put bin/bins away.
- Make sure the sink is clean and free of dishes.
- Put away dish soap, cloths, etc.
- Remove calendars as they can date a listing.
- Straighten bar stools and table chairs.
- Put toilet lids down.
- Clear counter of all personal belongings.
- Clean mirrors.
- Close shower curtains – If the shower is a selling feature, remove all bottles, razers, soap, etc. and leave curtains open.
- Place a fresh roll of toilet paper on the holder.
- Remove toilet brush and bin.
Best Practices to Consider
- Feel free to do a walkthrough with the photographer upon arrival but avoid following them around during the shoot.
- If you have limited space, consider designating a secondary room for temporary storage ahead of time rather than trying to move items from room to room while the photographer is on site.
- Make sure pets are out of the home.
- Photographers will not be staging your home so please make arrangements prior to the shoot.
- Don’t rush your photographer – Great images are critical when marketing a home for sale, so it is in your best interest to be patient and let your photographer do their thing.
3. Work out your finances for your next purchase
Check the affordability for the next property you’re looking to buy. Mortgage costs and options change rapidly and it is at this stage we would recommend you take some independent mortgage advice.
A good mortgage adviser will break down your mortgage options by cost, interest rate, tie in/fixed rate periods and make sure you’re comfortable with your options. There may be additional fees or possible charges on changing your mortgage, it is important to check all of these before starting the sales process.
Most agents will be able to recommend a mortgage advisor to you.
4. Instruct a conveyancer
We recommend doing this as early as you feel comfortable. Completing the initial paperwork, property questionnaires and Anti Money Laundering checks will all take weeks off the conveyancing time and allow for a much smoother process. Check with several firms about their capacity to act for you in the time scales you desire, compare prices and remember the cheapest is not always the best value. Most firms will act on a no sale no fee basis and as such instructing one early and getting started with the questionnaires and paperwork will save you time and stress once you find your buyer. Your agent will deal with most firms and can give you a good appraisal of each firm.
5. Accept an Offer!
You have prepared your property for your photos and presented it nicely during viewings, you now have an offer on the table. Things to consider about the offer, firstly and most importantly the price, is it at an acceptable level for you and your property. The value of Money changes very slowly and sometimes it is worth sticking to your original price ideas if an offer is not acceptable to you.
Secondly is how proceedable the purchaser is, do they have proof of funds, a mortgage offer in principle, if they are selling who is their buyer and what is the chain involved. Sometimes it could be better to accept a marginally lower offer from a more proceedable purchaser.
Once you find an offer acceptable contact your agent via email saying it is acceptable. They will then get both yours and your purchasers solicitors details and issue the memorandum of sales detailing the offer and what is subject to.
Remember accepting an offer is not legally binding, people can withdraw without penalty and you can still accept a higher offer if one is tabled.
6. Negotiate the Draft Contract
At this stage you will negotiate along with the rest of the chain the time between exchange and completion. This is typically between 7 and 28 days, but can vary, it may also be affected by the length of time mortgage companies require to release funds. For shorter chains suggesting dates through your conveyancers is the most efficient method, however for longer chains it will require the input of the estate agents throughout the chain and can be more involved.
7. Exchange of Contracts
Once you exchange contracts with your buyer you are both legally obligated to the sale, should any party withdraw, they may be liable to legal costs.
It is still your responsibility to look after the property after exchange so you should keep any buildings insurance active until completion.
8. Move out
You can move out whenever you like, including on the day of completion, so long as you have somewhere to move to!
It is less stressful to move out beforehand, if that is at all possible.
At the time of completion, the property has to be in the condition agreed in the contract – including all the fixtures and fittings. The buyer and estate agent may come round between your moving out and completion to ensure that everything is in place.
Find the right removals company for your move and get removals quotes from several firms. Again recommendations from friends and family often help.
This is when payment is received at your solicitors for the property. They will instruct your agents to release the keys once the funds clear in your account.
The ownership of your property now changes and your solicitor will register the transfer with the land registry.
The solicitors will then use these funds to pay off any outstanding mortgages, they would have been sent a precise figure for this from your mortgage company.
10. Settle the final conveyancing and agent invoices
Your Solicitors will provide a final balance of account covering all costs and disbursements in relation to your sale and purchase.
If you are buying and selling at the same time your solicitor will be able to make all payments on account, including paying the stamp duty on your new property.