Selling a Property: What do I need to know?
When it comes to selling a property, there are many things to consider that everybody needs to know beforehand. A great deal of time, effort and money goes into the buying and selling process, so it's worthwhile getting to know what's going to be involved before you even think about approaching an estate agent. After all, selling is wholly different to buying (and it's not every day you move house), so it's impossible to know exactly what to expect without undertaking a little research first.
With this in mind, here is an introduction to selling your house in England and Wales, as well as the considerations which need to be heeded at all points.
Spruce the place up
When you have decided once and for all to sell up, the first undertaking should be a good clean up. Before all the official matters are addressed, homeowners will need to ensure their property is going to have mass appeal and won't end up sat on estate agents' books longer than is needed.
So, the property should be spruced up and made to look inviting, from both the inside and out. It's easy to think that all this concerns just the property's interior, with the likes of cleaned carpets, removed clutter and fresh smells throughout often coming out on top of the priority list. Attention should also be paid, however, to the outside, as this is where people will form their first opinion. For this, ensure windows are cleaned, sills freshly painted, the doorway is cleared and views in through the front window show off the house in all its glory, instead of putting off potential buyers.
Provide an EPC
Another requirement which is needed ahead of putting a property on the market is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). In order to provide would-be buyers with adequate information on heating bills and efficiency, sellers must provide them with an EPC. In fact, not doing so is against the law and could result in a fine.
There are some properties which do not require an EPC (such as listed buildings), but for the most part, one is needed ahead of the property hitting the market. Securing one is easy enough, however, requiring just an accredited official to come along and rate the house, before issuing a certificate. Once issued, an EPC will be valid for up to ten years.
Find an estate agent
With the property now looking its best and an EPC secured, it's time to find an estate agent. Whilst it's possible to sell a house privately, estate agents will often put in significantly more work than a private seller could, whilst also being on hand to offer help and advice where needed. Thus, any first-time sellers would be wise to use an estate agent or else risk wading in over their heads.
Once the services of an agent have been secured (often by shopping around to find the most suitable one for a seller's needs), they will then value the property and market it both in their offices and online. Sellers can also then relax as often it will be the estate agent who shows any potential buyers around - using their experience in sales to highlight the property's best features.
Later, when offers start to come in, they have to go through the estate agent, either in writing (through email or a letter) or verbally (in person or over the phone). The estate agent then has a duty to provide the seller with these offers promptly.
Variables on offers are somewhat commonplace, with the most popular being a 'subject to contract' bid, which can be changed at a later date, depending on survey results. Homeowners should be confident of knowing what a survey might pick up on, however, so they can budget and estimate accordingly.
Draw up contracts and transfer ownership
It is the seller's responsibility for drawing up legal contracts and transferring ownership, not the buyer. Furthermore, any offer isn't legally binding until contracts are exchanged, so this needs to be done promptly and correctly.
These contracts should detail: eventual price, property boundaries, fixtures and fittings included in the sale, any relevant legal restrictions or rights, any relevant planning restrictions, services such as drainage and, finally, when the sale will be completed. In addition, contracts can also outline any other terms of the sale as previously agreed upon by both parties.
Once happy, both seller and buyer sign the contracts and return them to one another. With this done, the sale is legally binding and nobody is permitted to pull out without having to pay adequate compensation.
With the sale value agreed upon, contracts drawn up and documentation signed, the seller can then start the "completion" phase, which involves tying up all the loose ends and finishing the deal. This completion phase includes transferring funds, handing relevant legal documents to the buyer, moving out of the property, leaving it in the pre-arranged state and handing over keys. With this undertaken, the property has been sold and the seller's duties are complete.
This, of course, is just a quick run down of the process which can often take months. In the case of a long chain it can take twice as long as usual. Knowing what to do at all points should, however, make the process a little quicker. Or, at very least, much easier and less of a leap into the unknown.