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Guide to Selling a House: What You Need to Know

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Picture the scene. You’re thinking about selling your property, but you’re lost when it comes to knowing where to start. From solicitors to contracts, there’s a lot to get your head around. Does this sound like an all-too-familiar situation? The decisions you make now could either save or cost you later. To help you get it right, here’s a guide for how to sell your house.

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Step by step guide for how to sell a house

  1. Decide if the timing is right
  2. Sort out finances
  3. Pick the area
  4. Choose how to sell – private or estate agent?
  5. Find an estate agent
  6. Get your house valued (more than once!)
  7. Find a solicitor
  8. Make your home look its best
  9. Accept an offer
  10. Decide your selling terms
  11. Exchange
  12. Complete

1.Is now the time?

First things first, you need to decide if now’s the time to sell. There are a number of factors that should influence your decision, including:

  • House market fluctuations – are people buying now? Have house prices seen a significant drop? Consider whether now is the best time to sell your house
  • In most cases, people are looking to buy and sell, so look at the current state of the housing market. Can you afford to buy also?
  • Are you looking to downsize your home or not?
  • Can you afford to sell?
  • Is it worth renting before you buy another property?

Depending on the answers, you should consider whether now’s the time, or if you’d be better off adding value to your property instead. You can give its value a boost by adding an extension, for example.

Knowing when it’s time to sell depends on a number of circumstances, including your personal circumstances and what you want from your home.

2.Get your finances in order

Once you’ve decided you’re ready to sell, it’s time to talk money. Figuring out your finances can be tough, so here’s a step by step guide for the cost of selling a house.

Inform your mortgage lender

When considering selling, always inform your mortgage lender of your plans.

They’ll need to look at your outstanding loan, how much you owe and whether there are any early redemption penalties.

Speak to a mortgage broker

Chances are, you’re looking to buy as well. For this, you’ll need to know how much your house is worth and what you can afford.

To help, use a mortgage affordability calculator. It’s always useful to understand the money needed for the transaction, so when buying a property, know what you want.

How Much Could You Borrow?

Always speak to a professional, trusted lender to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. Get mortgage quotes online for free below.

Mortgage Quotes

Work out the cost of buying

From survey fees to stamp duty costs, there are many associated costs with buying a house. When selling at the same time, can you afford to cover these?

3.Decide on your area

If selling your home and moving to a new area, decide where you’d like to live. This can be largely governed by house prices, as well as your individual needs.

This is an essential step to get right, as you can change many aspects of a property, but not the area it’s in!

From nearby amenities to local schools to transport links, there’s a lot to think about. To help you work out if an area is right for you, get a property report. This will tell you everything you need to know.

Get a Property Report

4.Work out how you’re selling

There are many ways to sell your home – you just need to work out the right option for you.


You could choose to sell a house privately.

This avoids estate agent fees, sometimes up to 3% of the sale price. However, it can also make a difficult time even more stressful. There’s a lot to consider, such as marketing, which is why many enlist the help of a professional.

High street vs. online agent

There are many different types of agents, each with their pros and cons.

A local estate agent will have good knowledge of the area which you can tap into. Meanwhile, online estate agents are often cheaper, but also have their drawbacks. Some sellers choose to go with a hybrid estate agent.

Make sure you do your research to give yourself the best chance of making the right decision.

5.Choose a good estate agent

If you decide on the estate agent option, don’t simply go with the first one you come across. Look into the company, what they offer and how much they charge.

Wondering how to find one? Asking friends or family for their recommendations is often a good place to start. Also, look at the ‘for sale’ signs in the area, who’s advertising?

Here are some top tips for what to look for when choosing an estate agent:

  • Check what services are offered. For example, will they conduct viewings?
  • How many relevant buyers are on their books?
  • How long do they take to sell a property on average?
  • Which property websites or portals do they advertise on?
  • Do most of their properties sell for the asking price?
  • Do they have a ‘hot buyers’ list?

The key is to ask plenty of questions before making your mind up. The more you know, the better.

6.Get multiple valuations

When deciding on an asking price, it’s advisable to get multiple valuations first. This can give you a better indication of how much to set it for.

Remember to keep a few factors in mind, such as the asking prices for similar properties in the area. Also consider that most buyers will try to haggle on the price, usually around 5-10%. However, ensure the number doesn’t put potential buyers off.

7.Find a solicitor

The next step is to find a solicitor to help you navigate the conveyancing process. This includes everything from dealing with paperwork to liasing with the buyer’s solicitor. Other responsibilities include obtaining title deeds and drafting up contracts.

Take care when choosing a solicitor, as the service you receive can dramatically change the process – for better or worse. The key is to always keep communication open and clear!

Remember, if an estate agent recommends a solicitor, it’s likely they’ll receive a referral fee. So, don’t simply go with the first option you come across.

Need help finding one? Get a conveyancing quote for free below.

Find a Solicitor

8.Prepare your home

Time to start preparing your house for sale. It’s essential to note you only have one chance to make a good first impression, so ensure it counts.

Imagine yourself in a buyer’s position – you wouldn’t want to see clutter or mess. There are also many tips and tricks to make a room look bigger, such as lighting techniques.

Investing in a fresh coat of paint or some new furniture can go a long way, so bear that in mind. Spending a little now can help you gain financially later down the line!

In short: make sure your house is presented in the best possible way.

9.Accept an offer

Now’s the time to accept an offer – a vital step that needs careful consideration!

You might be tempted to simply go with the highest offer, however it’s not always that simple.

First time buyers or cash buyers, for example, won’t be in a chain, therefore many sellers choose this route even if the offer is lower. You may also be more swayed by a buyer who has everything ready to go, such as a mortgage in principle.

If the margins are close and you want a speedy sale, don’t simply look at the offer alone: always consider the buyer themselves! Long, drawn out processes are more likely to fail.

10.Decide on terms of sale

The terms of the sale differ every time, for example, some buyers will ask for certain fixtures and fittings to be included.

This is also the time to decide if there are any discounts following the insights of the property survey or Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

11.Draft a contract

After terms are agreed, your solicitor can draft a contract that will then be sent to the buyer and their solicitor.

This should also decide the time it will take between exchange and completion (usually between 7 and 28 days).

12.Exchange contracts

The exchange of contracts is the moment the sale becomes legally binding for both parties.

If you pull out for any reason after this, the buyer’s deposit will be returned and you could be sued.

13.Move out

You only have as long as was previously agreed to move out of the property.

To help you during this time, use a professional removals service. This can help make a stressful time run much more smoothly! Get removal quotes online below.

Removal Quotes


This is the point where the property changes hands officially. You leave the keys with the estate agent and accept payment. Your solicitor will also transfer ownership with the Land Registry.

15.Pay the mortgage

You mortgage provider will have given you a precise redemption figure for completion day. After that, your solicitor can settle any transactions, including the cost of buying a new property.

16.Settle any costs

The final step is to pay your solicitor and settle any outstanding costs.

Need help navigating the property minefield? We have comprehensive advice and guidance all in one place for every step of the way. Find our selling advice here.

Need a good solicitor?

We can connect you with an experienced member of our approved panel to help you navigate the property minefield. Having someone deal with all the legal work is essential. Get in touch below.

Find a Solicitor

Last Updated: August 16th, 2021