Get a few opinions, and do some research of your own: it’s not an exact science – and remember a property is worth what someone will pay for it, and as we’ve mentioned previously not just what the banks surveyor says its worth.
If you’re going to get help from an estate agent, interview them thoroughly to make sure they’re giving you an accurate picture, and read their contract in detail before you sign anything.
Especially look out for how long you’re tied in for, and make sure there are no sneaky clauses that make it hard for you to cancel.
Then, based on the valuations you’ve had, work with your agent to decide on an asking price. As you know, we recommend asking for “offers over” an attractive yet realistic figure and bidding up from there. It works brilliantly for our clients, but you don’t have to do things that way!
If you invite three agents to provide you with a valuation, and one agent’s valuation is wildly different from the rest and it seems to good to be true – it probably is.
Step 3: Get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
By law, you can’t market your home without it having a valid EPC. If the property has had one within the last ten years it’s still valid; otherwise you’ll have to get a new one. Order it early (or get your agent to do it for you) to make sure it doesn’t hold up the marketing.
Step 4: Take professional photos and write a compelling description
We’re not going to bore you again about the importance of great marketing…OK maybe we will just a little.
Imagine your house listed on Rightmove alongside 20 others. If yours doesn’t have people falling over themselves to book in a viewing, your chances of getting a quick sale at a great price are slim to none.
If your property is pretty special – go the whole hog and have a video created, and make the online viewing experience online as exciting as it can be.
Step 5: Get domesticated
You want people to see your home at its best, so before viewings start make sure everything is clean, immaculately tidy, and any nagging DIY jobs have been done.
A little bit of time and effort here can make a big difference in how the property is perceived – and if you’re worried that you’re too accustomed to any faults to notice them, invite a friend to tell it to you straight (and promise you won’t hold it against them).
Buyers like to get nosy sometimes, so don’t think you can just cram everything into the wardrobe as a temporary measure. (Actually, a good trick is to remove half of your clothes from the wardrobe to give the impression of there being ample storage space.)
Step 6: Do the viewings
If you work with us and decide to save money by doing your own viewings, we’ll verify that the potential buyers are in a position to proceed, arrange a convenient time with you and give you their names so you know who to expect.
Then it’s just a case of giving them the guided tour and encouraging them to ask you questions – because you’ll know all the answers, of course.
Or if you’d prefer your agent to take care of the viewings, that’s fine too. (And at Fishneedwater, we like to think we’re bloomin’ brilliant at showing off your property if you don’t want to.)
Either way, we’ll get in touch with you with feedback from every viewing (where possible).
Step 7: Negotiate the offers
Again, we’ve talked enough about how important this stage is – and why your bargaining position is immeasurably stronger if you have more than one interested party.
Your agent should notify you about any offers (even if they don’t think you’ll like them), and you can discuss with them whether you want to accept, reject or make a counter-offer. This is where we like to really push buyers – we get our kicks (and a higher commission!) from getting as high a price as we possibly can.
A word of caution. If your agent tells you the buyer is seeing their in-house mortgage broker, be very wary. There’s a chance they have ‘selected’ the buyer because using their mortgage services generates much more income for the agency, so if you feel you’ve been pressured a bit too much – now you know why.
Step 8: Accept an offer
Once you get an offer you’re happy with, you can accept it – but be aware that your acceptance isn’t legally binding on you or the buyer. You don’t legally have to take your property off the market at this point, but the buyer will probably ask and you’ll be likely to accept as long as you’re happy with the offer and your agent has confirmed that they’re genuinely in a position to proceed.
Step 9: Instruct a solicitor
If you haven’t appointed a solicitor or specialist conveyancer already, you need to do so as soon as you’ve accepted an offer. Your agent will then write to you, the buyer, and both sets of solicitors to confirm the details of the agreed sale and start the paperwork process.
You want a solicitor who is thorough and diligent, but who also won’t drag the process out by taking an age to respond to every query. We’re always happy to recommend a solicitor we know to be very good, but you’re also welcome to find your own through recommendations or by going through The Law Society.
Step 10: Keep things moving
Your solicitor will draft up a contract, and answer queries from the buyer’s solicitor to help them do their research. The contract will cover everything from the sale price to planning restrictions to what fixtures and fittings will be included in the sale. During this time, you will very likely need to give access to the buyer’s surveyor if they decide to have a survey done.
Remember that the offer still isn’t legally binding at this point, so there’s always a risk of the sale falling through before the contract is exchanged. Many people think that accepting an offer is the critical moment in the whole progress, and it’s just a matter of time from then on. But no: as many as a third of transactions fall through after an offer is accepted.
That’s why it’s crucial to have someone experienced on your side to keep things moving. Solicitors aren’t the most proactive of people, and even a minor issue can drag things out for weeks – which can have major implications if there’s a chain of related transactions too.
Having an expert on your side who goes through this process hundreds of times a year will vastly reduce the chances of it falling through, and do wonders for your blood pressure to boot.
For exactly this reason (and unlike many other agents), we have a specialist team of sales progressors whose sole responsibility is to liaise between the different parties, smooth out any disagreements, and push for dates when contracts will be exchanged and the sale will be completed. We can’t overstate how much of a difference this makes.
Step 11: Exchange contracts
Once the details of the contract have been agreed between both sides, you can exchange contracts – at which point the sale finally becomes legally binding. The buyer will pay a non-refundable deposit at this stage, which is typically 10%.
At this point you will also agree on a date when the sale will complete.
Step 12: Completion at last!
On the agreed day the buyer will transfer the balance of the funds into your solicitor’s account, and all the paperwork will be completed. You will need to vacate your property, leaving it in the condition you agreed, and your agent will hand the keys over to the buyer.
Phew! Even when just written down in brief it looks exhausting, but don’t despair: in a few months it will all be worthwhile, especially if you’ve got a better sale price than you ever expected.
So that wraps it up for this series – we hope you’ve found these emails useful and made you excited, rather than daunted about what lies ahead.
If you believe in our way of doing things, we’d love to work with you of course – and you can check out our testimonials to assure yourself that you’ll be following in the footsteps of lots of very happy people.
But even if you’re not ready to commit yet and you’ve just got a couple of questions, no problem at all: we’re always happy to offer no-strings advice, so just give us a call on the number at the top of the page.
Best of luck whatever you decide, and we hope to speak to you soon!