Relocation, Relocation's essential guide to selling your home.
What’s it worth?
You should do the following to make sure you have an accurate idea of what you could sell your property for:
• Get at least three estate agents to come and do a ‘no obligation’ valuation.
• Research the market for similar properties in your own area, either through agent windows, local property supplements or property websites.
• Now research actual prices fetched by such properties. Ask around, check out the internet.
Putting it on the market
Timing: Don’t get hung up on this. If you need to sell, you need to sell. Most people favour spring and summer because of their better weather and longer daylight hours, but people are still buying properties all year round. Make sure you keep abreast of property news including speculation about mortgage rates, but remember you can only make an educated guess.
Estate agents are the traditional way. They charge a commission fee, payable after sale, but you may also pay for extra advertising. In return they save you time and stress by, among other things, actively promoting your property, having the hassle of dealing with would-be buyers, and acting as a go-between during possibly tense negotiations.
To choose an agent, don’t just pick the one offering the highest valuation, because there’s no guarantee they will get that price.
• Compare fees
• Ask what they are offering
• Check testimonials
• Check the contract – it may try to tie you to the agency for too long a period. If you want to change agents in this time you will still be legally bound to pay their fee.
• Multiple listings – using more than one agent may mean you are also liable to pay more than one fee, so check the contract fine print again.
Once you have an agent stay in regular contact, be firm about progress reports and make sure they are getting prospective buyers in.
Private sales: In these, you avoid paying commission because you are doing all the work, including advertising and dealing with would-be buyers directly. You can advertise in local newspaper or use the internet.
E-sales: You could use any of a number of specialist websites selling property for a one off fee, often under $200 compared to thousands in agent commission. This is basically private selling with more information and tips, and the important target audience.
You need to appoint a solicitor or a conveyancer to deal with the sale. Ring around and get accurate quotes – you don’t want any nasty surprises. Aim for an all-inclusive package. You can do it yourself but it could well turn out to be complicated and simply not worth the hassle or risk.
Optimising your home
Make sure your home looks good to any potential buyer by following these quick tips:
• Decluttering is vital. As well as having a sort and throw out, consider putting some stuff and large furniture into paid storage until a sale is achieved.
• If using an estate agent, ask them for a brutally honest appraisal of what to get rid of or change, and whether there are any major flaws. You might be able to improve some easily.
• Don’t spend lots of money on fancy decoration schemes which new owners may well want to change.
• Do spend money on basic repairs, ensuring your home is in good working order.
• Tidy up outside and aim to make the entry as attractive as possible – a new coat of paint for the front door if necessary, some instant ‘potted colour’ from the garden centre and so on.
• Make sure it is CLEAN!
When potential buyers visit, consider the following:
• Your agent should be present – it’s generally good for you to be available, but your presence could hinder rather than help if you are not careful. If in doubt, check with your agent.
• If you are present, be relaxed and positive about your property, have information ready, such as utility bills, guarantees and notes about maintenance work, let visitors look for themselves and give them a chance to absorb it all.
• Don’t be oversensitive – it’s normal for buyers to point out ‘faults’, especially if they are trying to disguise how keen they are prior to making an offer.
• If you have dogs or other pets arrange for them to be out.
• To disguise odours, use something fresh and natural like a few drops of grapefruit essential oil in hot water instead of overpowering sprays.
• Before buyers leave have a relaxed chat to discreetly find out about them and their circumstances.
Offers and negotiation
Know how low you are prepared to go for a sale. Get as much information as you can about the buyers’ situation so you know the relative strengths of yours and their position eg do they need to move quickly? And if you are paying for an agent, use them to deal with the buyers.
Exchange and completion
After a successful offer, the next major step is exchanging legal contracts, after which neither side can pull out (without losing a lot of money). Before exchange, solicitors will do their checks, including which fixtures and fittings you are including in the sale. Don’t forget to
• Contact your mortgage lender as the loan is ending
• Notify utilities and arrange final readings
• Arrange mail redirection
• Book a removal service
Completion day means handing over the keys – but remember that it’s not until your solicitor has confirmed that your money has finally been transferred!