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Step-by-step guide to selling your home

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 when selling a property could save you – or cost you - many thousands of pounds. Here’s our selling checklist with everything you need to know about the process of selling a house.

selling your home

How to sell a house

Our step-by-step guide outlines how to sell a house. We briefly explain each step you are likely to take during the process of selling your home.  You can find more details by following the links within each section.

1. Decide if you should sell

2. Figure out your finances

  • Before you sell your house, you’ll want to get a rough idea of how much it is worth. This will also help you calculate how much money will be left if you have a mortgage to pay off. Try our instant free valuation tool.
  • Dig out your mortgage paperwork or speak to your lender to check if you will have to pay any early repayment charges for switching your mortgage to another lender or whether it is possible to take it with you to a new property – a process known as porting
  • If you’re planning to move to a more expensive property or your mortgage deal is coming to an end, this is a great opportunity to remortgage to a better deal. Speak to our fee-free mortgage partners to see how much you can borrow and which lender will offer you the best deal
  • At the early stages, figures will be approximate.  You don’t know how much you will sell 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 exchanged contracts (see below)
  • Plan every step to avoid being held up. Read our guide How long does it take to get a mortgage
  • To give you an idea of the costs involved when selling and to help you budget, read our guide What is the cost of selling?

3. Decide if you should rent a house next, rather than buy

  • Selling your home and renting for a while can add to the overall expense, but it will reduce the critical time pressures in buying a new home
  • You also won’t have to compromise on your sale price, and potentially sell your home for less, as you won’t be under pressure to complete on your onward purchase
  • You won’t be rushed into buying a less-than-perfect new home because you have found a buyer for your current home
  • Selling your property and then renting before buying will break 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
  • If you do decide to buy and sell at the same time, take a look at How to buy and sell at the same time

 4. Choose an estate agent to sell your house

5. Get an Energy Performance Certificate

6. Decide how much to sell your home 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. Get a free instant online valuation first
  • Remember 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?

7. Prepare your home for sale

  • 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, get rid of excess clutter; give it a fresh lick of light coloured paint; fix those little snagging things; keep it clean
  • Check out our guide on Tips to make your home more valuable and sell faster
  • Don’t forget how important your home’s kerb appeal is. According to our 2019 annual HomeOwner Survey, more than 68% of homeowners say kerb appeal was important in their choice of home. The most important factors were windows being in good condition, a well maintained roof and a tidy front garden and driveway/path. We’ve teamed up with Checkatrade to find local tradesmen near you and get those jobs done fast

 8Hire a conveyancing solicitor 

9. Fill out the relevant questionnaires

10. Accept an offer

  • You’ve received an offer – hooray! The estate agent is legally required to pass all offers on to you
  • Before you accept an offer, take a look at the different types of buyers and how to deal with their offers
  • If you are not happy with the offer, 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.
  • 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

11. 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

12. 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?
  • If you sell a house, you are responsible for looking after it until the sale is completed so you should make sure you have buildings and contents insurance cover until then.

 13. Move out

  • You can move out whenever you like, including on the day of completion
  • It is less stressful to move out beforehand, if that is possible (if you have somewhere to move to)
  • 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
  • Plan your move with our Moving House Checklist

14. 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

15. Pay off the mortgage

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

16. Settle up with the conveyancing solicitor and estate agent

  • After completion, your conveyancing solicitor 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 conveyancing solicitor can settle up for both transactions at the same time, including paying stamp duty for the house you are buying
  • Your conveyancing solicitor 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 should keep from your house sale and get ready for your buyer

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