Would it surprise you to learn that homeowners in the UK move on average just once every 23 years? That might sound unbelievable given our national obsession with property, but keeping up to date with the value of our homes doesn’t mean we’re forever moving on.
Some people are selling a property for the first time, but even relatively seasoned sellers who move every 5-10 years can forget some details. Is it any wonder, then, that almost every homeowner I meet has so many questions?
I deal with people selling their home in Stourbridge or nearby every day, and knowing what to expect goes a long way towards a seamless move. So, if you’re wondering how to find a buyer sooner, exchange contracts faster or even pick the best estate agent for your property, read on for my step-by-step guide.
And if you know someone else who’s about to move, share this blog with them!
GETTING YOUR HOME VALUED
The first step in your move is finding out how much your home is likely to sell for. Although you might have seen others on the market, you’ll only know your true buying power for your next home when you have an accurate price for where you are now.
It’s always sensible to get more than one opinion, and most homeowners start by contacting three estate agents. To ensure you have enough time to show them your property and get all your questions answered, allow an hour for each appointment.
There are many agents out there, and you might be wondering where to start, so try these handy hints:
- Search the property portals for similar homes near you
- Look for agencies with For Sale & Sold signs in your neighbourhood
- Check out agents’ websites and social media channels
- Read their reviews on Google and Facebook
- Ask local friends & neighbours for recommendations
It’s perfectly normal for agents to have different strategies around pricing techniques. For instance, on a home of around £400,000, one agent might suggest asking £415,000 to build in negotiating room, while another may advise offers over £385,000 to drum up excitement. A third could recommend asking £400,000 to straddle two price bands on the property portals and widen your audience. What matters is that their advice makes sense.
If one figure is excessively higher than the rest and not in line with local values, you could end up stuck on the market and delaying your move. So regardless of their strategy, every agent should back up their valuation and advice with examples of recent sales.
CHOOSING AN ESTATE AGENT
Moving home is a partnership between you and your agent. Aside from the nuts and bolts of how they market your home, don’t forget the human factor.
A good estate agent has many qualities, but someone with attention to detail and exceptional service standards will give you the greatest peace of mind.
One sign of excellence is someone who guarantees how often they’ll stay in touch with you. Another is making suggestions on showing your home at its best through decluttering, rearranging furniture, tidying up or a touch of DIY.
To decide if an agent is as good as they sound, ask them to tell you about:
- homes they’ve sold similar to yours
- the quality of their marketing, including photos, plans and descriptions
- their selling strategy for finding the perfect buyer
- which property portals they use and why
- the length of their agency contract and notice period
- how regularly they update you with feedback and advice
- who will be your main point of contact
Then ask yourself this very simple question: do I want to work with them? If the first agents you meet don’t fill you with confidence, invite others in until you find one that does.
BEING ON THE MARKET
Having found your agent and given them the go-ahead, they’ll be getting on with:
- arranging photographs & floorplans
- organising an Energy Performance Certificate
- writing a description of your home
- confirming your identity in line with Money Laundering legislation
- creating your agency agreement
When that’s all in place, your home is ready to go live.
Your first month on the market is usually the busiest, and the first two weeks are crucial to a successful launch. Be prepared for lots of viewings and spotless living as your agent books in their registered buyers and the new enquiries from your online advert.
Depending on their strategy, your agent may advise launching with an open day or with individual viewings. These can be in the daytime, evenings and weekends, and it’s worth expecting the odd last-minute call. If we’re out on another viewing with a buyer who seems perfect for your home, we’ll want to get them in ASAP.
Although many homes sell in their first month, it’s not an exact science. But that initial hive of activity will tell you whether anything needs to be addressed. If you’re still getting plenty of enquiries, or if previous viewers want to return, perhaps with a partner who couldn’t make it the first time around, a sale could be just around the corner.
If things are quietening down, it’s time for a review with your agent. Look back at the comments from your viewings to see if there’s a familiar story, and remember to treat every negative remark as an opportunity to move forward.
For example: if your living room feels small, can you move or remove an item of furniture to create more space? And if it feels dark, can you expose more of the window or add a mirror to improve the light? By having these open and constructive conversations with your agent, you’ll keep the momentum going.
When one or more offers arrive, your agent should check the position of each buyer, including:
- proof of funds for the deposit or if they are buying cash
- in-principle offer from a lender if they are getting a mortgage
- talking to their agent if they have a home to sell
- checking out every link in the chain for its current status and potential snags
- asking if any other decision-makers need to see your home
- preferences or deadlines around a moving date
By having all this confirmed, you can accept the offer that’s right for you.
SPEEDING UP THE LEGAL PROCESS
Around a third of sales fall through, many because of delays in the conveyancing process. You can minimise that risk by instructing a solicitor as soon as your home goes on the market and getting your paperwork complete.
Every seller needs to fill out a Property Information Form that details the fixtures and fittings included with your home. It also includes which boundaries you own, any improvements you’ve made, guarantees for works and if there are any disputes.
If your home is leasehold, you’ll also need to complete the Sellers Leasehold Information Form, which deals with the management of the building.
We’d be lying if we said the forms are an exciting job, but the task is far more pleasant when you finish it early on. You’ll have plenty of time to gather any missing information, and you won’t delay your sale by waiting until you’ve accepted an offer.
By having everything ready for when you agree a sale, your conveyancer can issue a draft contract right away. It may also be worth them carrying out the local authority search on your home to speed things up and pass on to your buyer. Ask us about current timeframes for searches in Stourbridge or nearby.
Most sellers don’t do this, but when the only outstanding items are your buyer’s valuation, survey and mortgage offer, you can shave weeks off the time it takes to exchange contracts – the point at which you and your buyer are legally committed.
If you don’t already have a conveyancer, ask your friends, family or me for tried and tested recommendations. Some firms have online platforms where you can follow your sale at any time of day or night, but whoever you choose should be approachable and easy to reach.
PREPARING FOR MOVING DAY
After you’ve exchanged contracts and have a confirmed moving date, there’s usually around 2-4 weeks before legal completion for you to make final arrangements.
Use the interval wisely to prepare for changing address: the to-do list is probably bigger than you think. As well as ordering boxes and packing everything up, and in no particular order, it’s time to start contacting:
- van hire or removals company
- your regular day-to-day bank
- anywhere you have savings, investments or pensions
- gas, electricity and water suppliers
- service contracts on appliances
- home, car, life and other insurances
- local authorities for council tax and electoral role
- HMRC & accountants
- your employer or Companies House
- credit, store and loyalty cards
- internet, phone and tv providers
- magazine & newspaper subscriptions
- cinema, theatre & fitness memberships
- doctor and dentist
- schools, colleges and universities
And don’t forget your friends and family – phew!
Moving can be an eventful journey, but it’s also an exciting time. By knowing the process, working together with your agent and getting ahead of the paperwork, you’ll oil the wheels of a smooth and stress-free sale.
If you’re thinking of selling your home soon, I’d love to show you how I can help you find the perfect buyer. Call me on 01384 958811 or send me a message at email@example.com to talk about your plans.