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The Seller’s Handbook for Selling a Home for the First Time

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Selling a house for the first time can be daunting – it’s normal to feel a little out of your depth. It’s a big task, with lots of moving parts. 

For those who haven’t done it before, we’re armed with some handy tips. Keep reading for advice to help guide you through the process.

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First Time Selling Advice 

Here’s a quick overview of a guide to selling a house for the first time.

  1. Understand the costs involved
  2. Get your paperwork organised
  3. Use and choose the most suitable estate agent for you
  4. Research properties up for sale and recently sold in the area
  5. Ask for advice
  6. Get multiple valuations
  7. Prepare your home for viewings
  8. Find a solicitor
  9. Negotiate
  10. Accept an offer
  11. Exchange and complete
  12. Tie up loose ends 

1.Get Your Head Around the Finances

If you’re not under pressure to sell, choosing to sell at the right time is key. Otherwise, it could slow the process down. When budgeting for your next move be sure you know your numbers as the cost of selling a house can be higher than you think.

Some of the costs involved include:

  • Estate agent fees
  • Removal costs
  • Solicitor fees
  • Repairs around the home
  • Professional cleaning 
  • Energy performance certificate – this must be in place before putting your home on the market
  • Storage costs

Find out what your local market is doing. Is now definitely the right time?

To answer this, you also need to figure out why you’re moving. Are you downsizing? Moving to a new area? Need more space? Or is it simply time for a change? 

Selling is a big job, so you want to make sure you’ve given it plenty of thought. If you can confidently confirm now’s the time, you can push forward with the rest. This is only the first hurdle!

2. Get Organised

Getting all your paperwork in order as early as possible will save you valuable time. Gather together the following, you will be asked for it at some point and by doing this now you can prevent unnecessary delays when you are ready to accept an offer:

  • EPC for your home
  • Your title documents for the property
  • If any recent renovation works – planning consent or building control sign off
  • Electrical and/or gas certificates
  • Any guarantees for new installations i.e. boiler, windows
  • Your existing mortgage details

If the property is leasehold or commonhold

  • Copy of the lease
  • Building insurance policy
  • Contact details for the landlord or management and any legal details
  • Regulations that apply
  • Recent service charge receipts and accounts

3. Find An Estate Agent

Enlisting the help of an estate agent is advisable, particularly if it’s your first time selling. 

They’ll have an in-depth knowledge of the local property market that you can use to your advantage, plus plenty of insider tips and tricks. 

Need some help choosing an estate agent? Ask them plenty of questions, e.g. ‘how long does your average property take to sell?’ You want to get as much information as possible to help you make your decision. One listing reality sellers need to be aware of: it isn’t as easy as you might think. It helps to have someone to guide you through it.

Our handy checklist gives you more in-depth guidance on this topic, helping you find the right agent for you. Download yours below.

How to choose an estate agent checklist

Remember, you have a number of different options available. Online estate agents will likely be cheaper, but the service may not be as personal, or full of the local knowledge a high street agent will have. 

Think about your decision carefully, it’s an important one.

4. Do Your Research 

Try and get an idea for how much similar properties in the area sell for. This will help give you an idea of how much your home is worth

Remember – it’s just a rough guide, but it can be a useful starting point.

5. Get Advice and Guidance

Has a friend or relative recently sold a property? Ask them for their advice! 

Learning from others’ mistakes (or just picking up some tips) can be incredibly useful, as selling for the first time can feel like you’re climbing a mountain – blind. 

For example, they might be able to recommend an estate agent, or share some home-preparation tips. 

Also, if you enlist a high street agent, ensure you use their in-depth local knowledge to your advantage. They’ll have inside information on the area, and they’ll have done this plenty of times before, so they’ll be able to share plenty of words of wisdom. 

6. Get More Than One Marketing Price

You can use an estate agent, or an online market valuation service to help guide you on the sale price. Remember – the decision is ultimately yours, but the right guidance can help.

Getting more than one valuation is a good idea, don’t just go with the first option.

The difficulty is setting a price that’s not too high and not too low. You don’t want to sell yourself short, but at the same time, try not to put potential buyers off. Having never done this before, that’s easier said than done.

Consider all the value-adds to your property, such as a loft conversion. Also, bear in mind that including fixtures and fittings in the sale can enhance the asking price, assuming buyers want them which isn’t guaranteed. 

7. Prepare Your Home for Viewings

First impressions when selling count. Make sure your home gives a good one. 

Ensure that: 

  1. There are no lingering unpleasant smells
  2. You enhance spaces to help them look as big as possible
  3. You’ve cleaned and your home is gleaming 
  4. It doesn’t feel overly personal (buyers will want to see themselves living in your home!)
  5. You don’t forget to tidy the garden
  6. If you have a driveway, that it is clear

One handy tip for selling a house is to think back to what attracted you to the property when you viewed it and draw on that. Always try and put yourself in the position of the buyer. What would you be looking for?

8. Choose a Solicitor 

There are a number of different avenues to be aware of selling your home, especially for the first time. The paperwork alone is highly complex, so it’s recommended you find a solicitor to help you through the conveyancing process. This can seriously impact how long your house takes to sell.

One tip: use the same solicitor who helped you buy your home, if possible. They’ll not only be familiar with the property, but they’ll have paperwork to refer back to.

While solicitor fees are another cost, they’re a vital, unavoidable one. They’ll deal with everything from running local authority searches, to dealing with the buyer’s solicitor, to handling all legal documents. 

Need help finding the right solicitor? We can connect you with reputable solicitors who can help you sell your home for the first time smoothly.

Get a conveyancing quote below.

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9. Wait for An Offer 

This process can take time, don’t be disheartened if you aren’t flooded with offers as soon as it goes up on the market. Also, be prepared that there might be a number of false alarms – with buyers seemingly interested, before dropping off. 

There can be a number of things that slow down this process. Be prepared by staying organised, having all property documents to hand, and avoid any delays at all costs. Momentum is everything in a property transaction, and while you can only look after your side, it’s important you do everything in your power to keep things moving.

10. Accept An Offer

First time home sellers should be aware that accepting an offer doesn’t mean things will be completely smooth sailing (unfortunately)! 

After you receive an offer, work closely with your estate agent to negotiate your terms, for example, whether any fixtures and fittings are included. A buyer may also change their mind on their asking price should the survey throw up anything unfavourable. 

Gazundering is a practice which is widely frowned upon but still happens. It’s where the buyer lowers their previously-agreed offer last minute. It can’t happen in Scotland – as an offer locks both parties in. 

Tips to help avoid being gazundered:

  • Choosing a buyer without a property chain (e.g. a first time buyer or a cash buyer)
  • Keeping communication open and be responsive 
  • Implying interest from other buyers (but be careful if you use this tactic)
  • Building a good relationship with the buyer
  • Trying to avoid any delays
  • If in a property chain, micro-manage the process – nobody wants this sale to happen more than you do!

11. Exchange and Complete

Exchange and completion are two different but highly important stages. 

Exchange is where contracts are signed by both parties and it’s much more difficult for the sale to fall through, as the buyer will lose their deposit. While it can still happen, it’s less likely. This is also the stage where you’ll agree a completion date. 

Completion is where the property officially changes hands, e.g your solicitor will register the transfer of ownership with the land registry. You’ll need to be packed up and moved out by the agreed date and time. 

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12. The Final Steps

Finally, all that will be left to do is pay your solicitor, they’ll likely handle this, along with organising your mortgage payments on the propery. Ensure you check the final statement they produce carefully.

You also will need to take final meter readings and sort out any final utility bills for your current property. 

Plus, don’t forget to clean thoroughly and leave the property in a nice condition for its new owner. You could also get all the paperwork they’ll need when they move in together, such as manuals, EPC, etc.

Need Help Moving?

Need packing boxes and moving supplies? Order what you need online and get all you need delivered direct to your door.

Getting help from a removals service has a number of benefits, including making sure your possessions are covered by your insurance. 

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Get a free removals quote below. Good luck with the move!

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Last Updated: March 4th, 2022