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First Time Sellers – A beginner’s guide to bringing your property to the market

Published: 04/08/2021 By Chris Hood

Our previous article, aimed at ‘First Time Buyers’, offered some top tips to those looking to get a foot on the property ladder – a link to the article can be found here .

This week we are focusing on a term not regularly used in the property industry, yet one we feel is equally as important – ‘First Time Sellers’.  Much like making the decision to purchase a property for the first time, those deciding to put their beloved first home on the market can often find this process puzzling. This article breaks down some of the key stages of selling your home and offers useful advice from listing to completion.

Where to start?

Choosing to bring your property to the market can be driven by a wide variety of reasons; a growing family requiring more space, the need for a larger garden or relocating for work to name but a few. Once you are set on selling, there are several factors to consider before you begin hiring a skip and fishing out the overalls.

·The cost of moving – Similarly to First Time Buyers and covered in more detail in our last article, knowing the true cost of moving is the first place to start when selling, too. Speaking to a financial adviser prior to marketing your home is essential to establish whether the proposed move is both feasible and affordable.

·Mortgage redemption fees – A point commonly overlooked by those selling for the first time is the costs associated with exiting a fixed term mortgage product prior to its expiry. For example, if the mortgage on your existing property was initially fixed for 5 years and has 3 years remaining, it is likely there will be a penalty to exit this deal early. In some instances, lenders will allow you the option to ‘port’ your existing mortgage product from one property to another – meaning redemption fees are no longer applicable. A financial adviser will be able to guide you on the best route forward, as in some cases, paying the penalty and taking out a new, more attractive mortgage rate can be a better option longer term.  

·Timescales – Make sure you allow plenty of time for the selling process to happen, especially if you are working towards a fixed date influenced by a job move or children starting new schools. Many variables can impact the end result; therefore, it is important to take into consideration an onward chain (if applicable), the saleability of your property, the current market conditions and the time required to conclude a conveyance.

How much is your property really worth?

Once the above points have been considered, the next step is to determine an accurate value of your home. Whilst there are many online tools available to enable potential sellers to ascertain a predicted valuation, there is no substitute for inviting your local agent out to appraise the property. Many factors can contribute towards establishing a suitable marketing price – these will range from size and condition, location and transport links, local amenities and prices realised for comparable homes in your area.

Preparing your property for sale – a realistic view

Spending time ensuring your property is presented well for marketing can certainly contribute towards achieving the best possible price. Depending on the type and general condition of property being sold, your agent will be able to offer advice on what is necessary prior to marketing. As a rule, make sure your property is clean and orderly, with a comfortable room temperature and tidy gardens. Whilst lots of the top TV shows and property magazines will suggest a total revamp before photos can be taken, this is rarely required. If your property is generally presentable, clean, and welcoming, this will be sufficient. Here are our top 5 tips to a market-ready home:

·De-clutter – arguably one of the most important jobs when staging a property is de-cluttering. Creating more space will not only allow potential buyers to see more of the room, but will also be less distracting. If you have outgrown your property or have lots of personal belongings, we recommend storing items in one or two rooms to maximise the space available in others.

·Mow the lawns/weed the paths – You only get one chance to make a first impression. A freshly cut lawn and weeded pathways show off your outside space in the best possible light and allows prospective buyers to see your property is regularly maintained.  

·Clean the windows – Much like the reasons above, clean windows help create a more inviting and presentable home.

·Give rooms a purpose – An important part of getting a property ready for sale is to show prospective buyers what they’re able to do with the space you have to offer. It is common to find rooms which, for example, could be a fabulous formal dining room however are currently utilised with a piano, exercise bike, ironing board and children’s toys. We recommend showing rooms as to what they are intended, to provide buyers with the best viewing experience possible.

·Titivate – Adding the final touches to a property before the photographs or viewings will go a long way to adding saleability. Think about adding fresh flowers, leaving out air fresheners or perhaps putting the fire on (only if it is cold, of course!).

Instructing an agent

Once your property is ready to be marketed and you have instructed an agent to act on your behalf. The next step is to arrange for your property to be photographed and measured. The agent will complete the relevant paperwork with you and carry out the necessary identity checks, required by law under Anti-Money Laundering Regulations. The marketing material is then put together for your approval and once complete the property can then be uploaded to the online property portals and sent out to potential purchasers (also known in the industry as ‘applicants’) registered on the agent’s database. The best agents will already know their applicants well and will pro-actively promote your property to those they feel are most suited. Matching people to the right property is a key skill in our business.

Accommodating viewings

This is the stage where all your hard work preparing your property will shine through. Opening your property up to those interested in viewing can be daunting but also exciting. Accompanied by your agent and arranged via pre-agreed, structured appointments, viewers will be offered adequate time to view the property, be informed of the main selling points and ask any questions they feel are relevant. We recommend sellers vacate the property for viewing appointments to take place, leaving the agent to show people around. This way, we find buyers are more relaxed and spend longer in the property, meaning a higher chance they will be honest, discuss their thoughts and make an offer. Once the viewings take place, your agent will provide feedback, usually the following day, to allow time for viewers to consider whether the property is ‘the one’.

Dealing with offers

Upon receipt of an offer being made on your property, your agent will now collate certain information from the applicant including details on their buying position (identifying whether there is a related sale), specifics of any sale chain, how the purchase will be funded and note of any desired timescales. The offer will then be submitted to you, as the seller, for your thoughts and if necessary the negotiation process can begin – your agent will also provide their advice at this stage.

In the event multiple buyers are interested in your property, your agent may recommend asking for ‘Best and Final’ offers, which invite all parties to submit their best offer by a set time and date, whilst supplying supporting documents. This process is often the fairest route, helps draw matters to a close and allows you to then make an informed decision on which buyer to sell to.

After an offer has been accepted, your agent will distribute the ‘Memorandum of Sale’, a document sent to the buyer, seller and solicitors outlining details of the agreed sale. This will allow the solicitors to begin the conveyancing and your house sale is now officially underway!