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selling your home

Step-by-step guide to selling your home

The prospect of selling your home can be daunting – all the more so if you are looking for another property to buy at the same time. The decisions you make along the way could save you – or cost you - many thousands of pounds. Here’s our step by step guide

Are you thinking of selling your home? Become a member of the HomeOwners Alliance to discuss your options with our friendly Home Helpline team 

1. Should you sell at all?

  • If you are considering selling because you need more space, have you instead considered building an extension, converting the attic, or digging out the basement? The costs of moving are so great (particularly with stamp duty) that it might even save money to expand your existing home
  • Have you thought about how changing house prices might affect the decision to sell? If prices are rising rapidly, you may not be able to afford a place much bigger than the one you are already in
  • Are you in negative equity? If so, can you afford to sell?
  • You may be considering selling as a result of a separation or divorce – see our guide on what happens to your home
  • Depending upon your circumstances, you might be better off renting your home out rather than selling

2. Figure out your finances

  • You should notify your mortgage lender that you are planning to sell your home
  • You need to find out how big your outstanding mortgage is and if there are any early redemption penalties
  • You need to get a rough idea of how much your house is worth, then you can calculate how much money you will be left with after you have paid off the mortgage
  • If you are also buying a new home, you should obviously consider what size mortgage you will need for that. You should get an idea from mortgage lenders how much they would be willing to offer you. See our guide on taking your existing mortgage to your new home
  • At the early stages, the figures will be approximate only – you don’t know how much you will sell your house for and you will only get a precise redemption (amount outstanding) figure for your mortgage once you have an agreed completion date when you have exchange contracts (see below)
  • Plan every step to avoid being held up. Read our guide How long does it take to get a mortgage?

3. Decide if you should also look for somewhere to buy or rent

  • Renting for a while can add to the overall expense, but reduces the critical time pressures of buying a new home
  • You won’t have to sell at a low price because you have found the home of your dreams
  • You will not be rushed into buying a less-than-perfect new home because you have found a buyer for your current home
  • You will break out of the housing chain which means you will be a more attractive buyer.
  • See our guide Should I sell my home before I buy a new one? for more information

 4Decide who will sell the property

5. Decide what price to sell it for

  • One of the most agonising decisions when selling your home is what price to put it on for
  • Do your research and get to know the local market inside out
  • Get a number of estate agents to do valuations, but don’t necessarily go for the highest
  • Remember that buyers will probably try to negotiate a discount, so add 5% to 10% to what you are prepared to accept
  • See our guide What price should I sell my house for?

6. Prepare your home

  • If you “stage” your home well, you are not only more likely to sell your home faster, but you might make it more valuable too
  • Tidy up, and get rid of excess clutter; give it a fresh lick of light coloured paint; fix those little snagging things; keep it clean
  • Light a fire; bake bread; put up a mirror; get rid of bad odours
  • Check out our guide on How to make your home more valuable and sell faster

 7. Hire a solicitor or conveyancer

8. Fill out the relevant questionnaires

9. Accept an offer

  • You’ve received an offer – hooray! The estate agent is legally required to pass all offers on to you, however ridiculous
  • If you are not happy with it, you can either reject it outright, wait to see if a better offer comes along or tell the estate agent to try to negotiate it upwards
  • Once you are happy with an offer, you need to formally accept it. You should then instruct the estate agent to take the property off the market
  • Remember that accepting an offer is not legally binding, and you can legally change your mind or accept a higher offer later (gazumping) – but remember, this can be pretty distressing to the buyer

10. Negotiate the draft contract

You and the buyer will have to decide:

  • The length of time between exchange and completion (usually 7-28 days after the exchange of contracts)
  • What fixtures and fittings will be included – and how much will they pay for them
  • Any discounts due to problems flagged up by the survey

11. Exchange contracts

  • When you exchange contracts with the buyer you become legally committed to selling the property – and they are legally committed to buying it from you
  • If you pull out after this without due reason, the buyer’s deposit will be returned to them and you may be sued
  • For more information and to find out about the details of the process, read our guide How do I exchange contracts?

 12. Move out

  • You can move out whenever you like, even up until the day of completion (although clearly, you need somewhere to move to)
  • It is less stressful to move out beforehand, if that is 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
  • Plan your move with our Moving House Checklist

13. Complete the sale

  • Completion is when the property changes ownership, you accept payment, and hand over the keys
  • A little like a duel, it takes place on a previously agreed date and usually at midday
  • On the day of completion, the money is transferred and any deeds for the property are transferred between each side’s solicitor or conveyancer
  • Your solicitor/conveyancer will register the transfer of ownership with the Land Registry
  • Learn more about what to expect on the day of completion

14. Pay off the mortgage

  • The mortgage company will have given you and your conveyancer/solicitor a precise redemption figure (outstanding amount) for your mortgage for the day of completion
  • Now the buyer has transferred the money to your solicitor or conveyancer, they will pay off the mortgage for you

15. Settle up with the solicitor/conveyancer and estate agent

  • After completion, your solicitor/conveyancer will send you an account, covering all their costs and disbursements, as well as the sale price of the house and redemption of the mortgage
  • If you are buying and selling at the same time, the solicitor/conveyancer can settle up for both transactions at the same time, including paying stamp duty for the house you are buying
  • Your solicitor/conveyancer will ensure that the change of ownership is registered with the Land Registry
  • There is sometimes a small discrepancy and you might even get a small refund
  • Here is a list of the documents you will want to keep from your house sale and getting ready for your buyer


The HomeOwners Alliance provides members with guidance on selling their homes. To see how we can help, find out more about becoming a member


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11 Comments

  1. Now back at square one..

    Comment by Anita Watson — September 11, 2015 @ 12:48 pm

  2. Hi,

    We have decided to sell our house for downsizing purposes. At first we put the house on with an online agent which hasn’t worked out as the house wasn’t valued correctly and then we were waiting awhile for the buyer to verify their funds.

    In the end the agent decided to end the contract with us and thankfully it didn’t incur any charges.

    We have since put the house back on the market with another agent after having the 3 required valuations carried out.

    We accepted an offer of over the asking price but after pestering from the estate agent to provide solicitor details to them they have decided to withdraw their offer so now back at square one it’s so frustrating. The had organised a survey for two weeks time.

    The whole process started on the 29/7/2015 and we are now in mid September..

    There is a viewing on Saturday from another interested party who had submitted a offer so hopefully things will progress positively thereon.

    Is it normal practice for the estate agent to pester the buyer would it have made any different having the solicitor’s details.

    Comment by Anita Watson — September 11, 2015 @ 12:46 pm

  3. Hi me and my partner have bought our first house and have exchanged contracts but the couple that we are buying from are waiting on a new house to be built before they move out. We were originally told end of June for the completion of the house being built but now we are being told that their kitchen won’t be fitted until the 24th of august and that they don’t even have a date for hooking up the services (gas/water/electric) to the plot! This could leave us having to wait until possibly October to move in..by which time our offer for out mortgage will have expired. Any help?

    Comment by David — June 17, 2015 @ 3:58 pm

  4. If I sold my house for the value of £550,000 how much tamp duty would I be charged

    Comment by Janet Taylor — May 27, 2015 @ 11:13 am

  5. my buyers have had a survey done on my house by their mortgage provider. Do I get a copy of what the surveyors report says about my house? Thankyou

    Comment by Mrs jJ Oldfield — May 14, 2015 @ 3:18 pm

  6. Home Selling Process Guide

    Selling your home can be exciting when you think of what you will get after the purchase. But selling a property is not an easy job. You have to put a lot of effort, patience and determination on your work. If this is your first time to sell a home, its intricacies can really make you go topsy-turvy. Nonetheless, don’t let this discourage you; instead, gear up towards your goal of selling your home.

    Comment by Lucky Smith — May 11, 2015 @ 7:12 am

  7. If a house is under offer, must the estate agent stop any other viewings or any other offers on the property?

    Comment by Sophie chapman — April 4, 2015 @ 7:52 pm

  8. We have accepted an offer on our house and have hired a solicitor. They have requested the paperwork for our mortgage and having looked, I can find NOTHING!! Literally not one thing about is owning the house or our mortgage. I don’t know what’s happened with all the paperwork but I have looked everywhere. What should I do.?? What per work is needed?

    Comment by Reena edwards — November 4, 2014 @ 9:34 pm

  9. do they charge you when they come out to value your property what if you change your mind when they have valued it

    Comment by helen — November 1, 2014 @ 8:58 pm

  10. So I contact my solicitor as soon as I get an offer on this house.

    Comment by Rikki Bernard — June 18, 2014 @ 10:27 pm

  11. So it’s ok to still have viewings on my property even though there has been an offer on my house.

    Comment by Rikki Bernard — June 18, 2014 @ 10:23 pm

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