Selling a house: The process and steps to take when it's your first time

Selling a house: The process and steps to take when it's your first time
Selling a property for the first time can be as daunting as being a first-time buyer.

First-time sellers often experience a crisis in confidence similar to when they first bought a home, with uncertainty on decisions like asking price and home staging to choosing solicitors and estate agents.

There's also the emotion of leaving behind a home for the first time.

Perhaps you arrived at your home as a couple and are leaving it married, or maybe what was once just the two of you is now three or four if children have arrived.

All of those things can heighten and emotional attachment to a property and walking away can be difficult.

This is where trying to view your property sale purely as a business transaction can help - although it's obviously easier said than done!

Here, though, we'll run through the steps of selling a house for the first time, but first, here's some tips on how to sell a house...

Tips on how to sell a house

Be choosy about estate agents

Choosing the right estate agent is the key decision you'll make when selling your home.

And while it can be tempting to simply opt for the agent who provides the highest valuation, this is not always the best approach.

Speak to at least three local agents and get valuations from all of them.

Then, to ensure you fully understand what each agent is offering, consider asking each one of the following questions:

1. What percentage commission do you charge?
2. Do you charge extras for boards or professional photographs?
3. Will you offer a sole agent contract or would you consider multi-agent?
4. How long do you tie clients in on sole agent contracts?
5. What are your techniques for marketing my property?
6. What is your history of selling properties like mine in the area?
7. Which redress scheme are you a member of?

Get your money in order

While an estate agent's valuation will go some way to helping you decide if selling is right for you, knowing your financial situation inside and out is crucial.

How much do you owe on your mortgage and does your agent's valuation leave you with enough equity to take the next step on the property ladder?

Check to see if your mortgage contract has any early redemption penalties. Often, sellers are caught out here and early repayment penalties can really impact on the capital gained from their property.

Do your sums ahead of applying for your next mortgage, too, and work out how much you need to borrow.

This will, again, help with pricing your property correctly so that it meets your needs going forward.

Additional costs

Don't forget... selling your home is not cheap.

As well as paying off your existing mortgage, you'll need to consider other costs that will potentially eat into your equity.

Those include:

  *  Estate agent commission
  *  Solicitor's fees
  *  Removal services
  *  Renewal of your property's Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Be a chain-free buyer

While you might be set on buying your next property right away, it can be worth considering a rental property for a few months after your sell your home.

Not only is moving into rented accommodation less stressful due to you 'breaking' the buyer / seller chain for your own sale, it also puts you in a great position when you come to buy again.

As a chain-free buyer, you will be far more attractive to sellers against those who have a property to sell.

This can put you in a great position to negotiate on price and could save you a pretty penny as well as ease those stress levels.

Think carefully about your asking price

Surely highest is best?

Not always.

The key to setting your property's asking price is that it works for the market as well as you.

Remember: Your estate agent's valuation is there to help you make a decision. It's not set in stone and, essentially, the asking price is down to you.

Think carefully about the minimum price you need to achieve in order to take your next step.

Given buyers will almost always offer below the asking price, bear this in mind, too.

If you need to move quickly, you might consider a lower asking price, but if achieving a certain figure is crucial and you are happy to accept a potentially slower process, go for a top-level price.

Basically, do what is right for you and your needs.

Stage your home

In order to attract the right kind of buyers to view your property, you need to start to think like them rather than you.

Ask yourself who your home will appeal to. Perhaps that would be a professional couple looking for more space to start a family, or maybe you are moving from an apartment that would suit a single buyer.

Think about how your home will work for the person you are trying to attract and stage it in such a way.

For example, if you are using a bedroom as an office, but are looking for a buyer who needs space for their growing family, consider turning your work hub back into a bedroom.

Most of all, though, keep your property tidy and free of clutter and allow your buyers to see themselves living there.

And ensure your property makes a good first impression - that means ensuring its exterior is presented as well as its interior.

Steps of selling a house

Choosing a solicitor

Once you have chosen your estate agent and set your asking price, it's a good time to engage a solicitor to deal with your property sale.

As with an estate agent, speak to several firms or independent conveyancers before making a decision and seek recommendations from family and friends as well as checking out online reviews.

Solicitors are key cogs in the property sale wheel and choosing a proactive one can really help move your sale along.

The offer stage

Receiving an offer for your property could either make you jump for joy or make you cry.

But regardless of those initial feelings, it's important to consider each and every offers on its merits - no matter how insulted you might be!

Think again about your needs and how the market is performing.

If the market is slow and you can take your next step by accepting a lower offer, you should consider it.

Alternatively, don't feel railroaded into accepting an offer well below what you believe your property to be worth in the current market.

At this stage, advice from your estate agent can be key so listen to what they have to say but remember, you are in control and the final decision lies with you.

Once you accept an offer, your agent will let the buyer know and the process of the sale will begin.

Contracts of the sale

Once you have accepted an offer, solicitors on your side and your buyers will draw up draft contracts.

You should think about the things you want to include in the sale, like any white goods or fixtures and fittings, as this detail will all be included in your contract of sale.

Exchange of contracts

Once your buyer's solicitor has completed all searches and your solicitor has provided details of fixtures and fittings included with the sale, as well as answering buyer enquiries, you should be ready to exchange contracts.

This is a big moment as your sale, at this stage, becomes legally binding.

However, you remain responsible for the property until the sale completes, so keep things like buildings and contents insurance policies running until your buyer has the keys.

Completion day

This is the day when you say goodbye to your home.

It can be an emotional and difficult experience to go through, not to mention stressful if you are moving into your new home on the same day.

A good night's sleep the night before is crucial and spend some time that night reflecting on great times you have had in your home before you let it go.

On the day itself, your solicitor will ensure all money is where it needs to be, including redeeming your mortgage and paying bills like estate agent fees.

Once everything is where it needs to be, your buyer will be handed the keys, so you'll need to ensure you are fully moved out.

It can be worth considering moving out the day before and placing your belongings into storage while you spend a night with friends, family or in a hotel.

That gives you a full day on completion day to move into your next property.

But weigh up the additional costs of doing this against doing everything in one day and do what is right for you.

If you have any questions about selling a property, or are looking for a valuation before you put your home on the market, get in touch with your local Ellis & Co office.