If 2016 is the year you plan to sell your house, what can you do to ensure the smoothest process possible? Selling a house is not just about infusing your property with the smell of freshly baked bread and newly brewed coffee, as some guides will tell you, it’s also about ensuring all the paperwork for your house is in order and that you’re in the best possible position to sell.
Flexibility is the key to a quick house sale so make Plan A, Plan B and perhaps also Plan C. Depending on your circumstances there are a number of options available to you, for example:
- Sell your home and buy a new property at the same time,
- Sell your house and move into rental until you can buy a new property,
- Or perhaps you’re not looking to buy again at all.
While you may prefer to move straight into the home of your dreams having sold your current property, this can slow your house sale down significantly and potentially lose buyers because of holdups. This is why being prepared to consider Plan B or C is so important.
Without knowing your personal circumstances I can’t advise you specifically on the best options for selling your house, although you’re welcome to contact me for an informal chat! However, these are the key factors you need to plan for:
Selling A House: Be Prepared
Mortgages. Before contacting an estate agent explore your mortgage options. First off what is the situation with your existing mortgage? How big is it and will you have to pay an early redemption penalty? Is your mortgage ‘portable’, i.e. you could transfer it to a new property, and in which case do you still qualify? You will still have to reapply for the mortgage and could find that your circumstances, or your lender’s criteria has changed and therefore you’re no longer eligible for that mortgage product.
If you need a new mortgage, then now’s the time to start investigating what’s available and what kind of deal you can get. As with porting an existing mortgage, you may find that the mortgage landscape has changed significantly since you last applied, so don’t make any presumptions based on your current arrangements.
Remember that almost every mortgage will have an exit fee when you pay off early, so make sure you budget for this. Get your figures sorted first so you know how much it’s going to cost you to leave your current mortgage, and how much you can borrow on a new home.
House prices: Next you need to shine a spotlight on the property market and get a good benchmark figure of how much your existing home is worth, and what you can afford to buy next. At this point you may need to revise your expectations up or down a little. Search the Land Registry to see how much similar properties in your area have sold for in recent months, speak to estate agents about the local market and get an indication of the difference between asking prices and actual sales.
Rental properties. If renting a property between selling and buying is an option for you, you’ll need to check out this market too. You won’t be able to put your name down on a property until a month or two before you move, but you can get a good idea of the expenses involved so you can budget accordingly. You’ll need a deposit and normally a month’s rent in advance, you’ll also need to calculate how long you’re likely to be renting for, and how easy it will be to extend this period if you don’t find a house to buy.
Conveyancing: Further down the line you will need a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal side of transferring property ownership. Now’s a good time to get a recommendation and have someone lined up. Although you won’t be able to instruct them until you’ve agreed an offer, don’t leave this until the last minute as you could then be the person responsible for holding up the sale.
Documentation: When you’ve agreed an offer and instructed your conveyancer you will be asked to fill in a number of questionnaires about the about the property and what you intend to include with the sale. Although you won’t receive these until you’ve instructed the solicitor / conveyancer, it may be helpful to find out what’s involved now so you can consider these details in advance. For example, what fixtures and fittings will be included in the house price, or will there be an option for the buyer to purchase these and for how much? Other documentation you will need includes:
- Title deeds and sundry searches. These might be with the conveyancing solicitor who acted for you when you bought the property, or your mortgage lender. You can also get copies of title deeds from the Land Registry.
- Planning permissions, plans and accompanying documents.
- Building regulation approvals and completion certificates.
- FENSA Certificate – double glazing.
- Gas Safety Inspection Certificate and proof of boiler servicing/CORGI Certificate.
- Electrical Safety Inspection Certificate.
- Guarantees for work carried out on the property such as woodworm treatment, damp proofing works etc.
- Any indemnity insurance policy that was put in place when you bought the property.
You will also need an Energy Performance Certificate for your property to show potential buyers. Your estate agent can commission this on your behalf, or you can find a Domestic Energy Assessor here, if you want to do this yourself.
Decide how to sell your home: Having prepared the groundwork, you can now find an estate agent and get some advice on selling your house. Most property searches now start online so if you plan to use a local estate agent make sure they have a strong online presence too. Your initial conversations with the estate agent should be about how you, and they can maximise your chances of selling your home at the right price and in the right timeframe.
It’s important to find an agent who has experience of selling comparable properties and is realistic about their valuations. Don’t be fooled by an estate agent giving you a much higher valuation than your research shows, it’s likely to be a tactic to get you to put your property with them under false pretenses. Always ask agents to justify the valuation they give, whether it’s high or low, and get a second or third opinion from another firm.
Take the opportunity when you show estate agents your home to get some advice on making your property more marketable. Apart from the obvious like tidying up and decluttering your home, there might be some relatively inexpensive improvements you can make that will increase the likelihood of a sale.
You may also be able to increase the value of your property with an extension or loft conversion, recouping and earning more on the cost of doing this work. Even if you don’t have the capital to do this yourself it may be advantageous to getting planning permission (where needed), as this can increase the value of the property.
Make sure you’re clear on what estate agent fees you will need to pay, and what the terms and conditions are. When comparing different agents you will find they typically charge between 1% and 2.5% +VAT of the price at which you sell your home, but some may not include marketing or preparing the details in this price, while others may insist on sole selling rights.
Putting your property on the market: Having thoroughly prepared yourself and your home for a smooth sale it’s now a question of marketing your property and getting potential buyers through the door. If you’ve hired a good estate agent, they should be doing this for you. Estate agent contracts are usually for around 12 weeks, but you can negotiate a shorter period. If you’re not seeing any progress speak to your estate agent to see if you can identify the problem. Keep an eye on the market too so you can see whether lack of progress is down to a slow market, your property, pricing or your estate agent.
I’ll be covering what happens when you receive an offer on your property, and the processes involved in paying off an existing mortgage, porting your mortgage, extending your borrowing and starting a new mortgage from scratch, in another blog post. Watch this space!
If you have any questions about mortgages and selling or buying a property please get in touch. For specific advice on mortgage products and what’s best for your circumstances, call me on 01252 759 233 to see how I can help you.