Guide to Selling your Property

Buying and selling a home isn’t complicated, but it can be daunting especially in the fast moving market of Brighton & Hove.

Getting Started

Buying and selling a home isn’t complicated but it can be a daunting prospect. Not only is the expense probably the largest financial transaction most people ever make but the whole process can appear long, complex and difficult to coordinate. Each stage of the process is outlined here for you so you can see exactly what is involved.

Preparing to Sell Your Home

As soon as you make the decision to sell, notify your lender that you intend to redeem your existing mortgage. Don’t delay in doing this because some lenders require a lengthy notice period and impose high interest charges if you fail to give the required notice. At the same time, ask whether the lender charges a redemption fee and how much this will be.

You may consider spending a little time and money on your home before you place it on the market. This can pay dividends in terms of selling time and potentially the achievable price:

  • Make sure any known defects in your home are repaired, so attend to the small maintenance jobs!
  • You can revitalise a tired interior decor by cleaning and/or painting – neutral colours are best
  • Make sure all the windows are clean to allow more light into your rooms
  • Consider hiring a carpet cleaning machine to make carpets and curtains look their best
  • Tidy up! Including the garden shed and garage to emphasise storage space
  • Ensure your garden is well presented. A neatly mown lawn and tidy borders will enhance your home’s appeal
  • Touch up the front door and keep the front garden tidy. It is important to give a good roadside impression to potential purchasers driving by

Selecting an Estate Agent

The Estate Agent acts in the interests of the seller (vendor) of a property. It is their job to find a buyer for your home, to act as mediator and is duty bound to pass on details of offers, to negotiate on such offers on your behalf and to liaise with solicitors and surveyors to ensure the sale is completed successfully.
The estate agent earns his commission on successful 
completion. This figure is normally a percentage of the sale price and a minimum fee is usually charged.
There are various ways an estate agent can act for a 
vendor, the most common being Sole Agency where a property is placed with one agency firm.

Tips to help you select an Estate Agent to sell your home

  • Try asking the estate agent these questions to help you select the best company to sell your home:
  • What evidence do they have which supports their suggested asking price for your home? It is tempting to instruct the agent who quotes the highest selling price but ask if they have sold (or are still selling) any similar homes for a similar price recently.
  • Discuss where and how frequently the property will be advertised i.e. on websites, in local property press, window displays etc.
  • Ask them to be clear about what their fee includes and excludes and whether any special conditions apply. Will a fee be charged if the house isn’t sold? Or you take your home off the market?
  • How often they will update you?
  • Check that the agent will accompany all viewers (if you want him too)
  • Assess the knowledge and dedication of the agency staff, their commitment to selling your home will be vital
  • Ask friends for their recommendations
  • Check the company’s reputation in the local community by asking around
  • Visit their office, is it centrally located and well presented?

Many of these aspects should be included in the contractyou will be asked to sign. Take time to read it.

What will your Estate Agent do?

  • Ask you to sign an agreement clarifying terms
  • Agree an asking price with you
  • Prepare the property particulars – these should be properly presented and include colour photographs. The 1994 Property Misdescriptions Act legally binds agents to describe the property accurately and you need to agree that you are happy with the property particulars
  • Arrange regular, local advertising
  • Display your home in the agent’s shop window
  • Put up a ‘For Sale’ board (if allowed)
  • Contact potential buyers registered with the agency
  • Arrange and accompany viewings
  • Record responses to viewings and update you regularly
  • Review the asking price with you if necessary

When you have a buyer the agent should:

  • Investigate their ability to proceed e.g. do they have a home to sell?
  • Inform you of the offer and discuss whether or not it should be accepted
  • Negotiate the offer if possible to achieve a higher price
  • Liaise with all parties to progress the sale to exchange of contracts and completion

Showing Prospective Buyers Your Home

It is important that you ensure visitors’ first impressions of your home are positive and prior to a viewing we recommend you:

  • Make sure your house is clean and uncluttered
  • Make sure the front of your property looks attractive and inviting, as it is the first and last impression visitors will have of your home
  • Consider arranging some vases of freshly cut flowers around the home
  • Try to avoid cooking meals which may leave a stale odour in your home
  • The smell of freshly brewed coffee on the other hand creates a warm, welcoming atmosphere
  • Shut any pets which may cause alarm out of visitors’ way
  • Try to arrange for young children to visit friends or neighbours so that potential purchasers have our full attention during their visit
  • If possible, arrange for large vehicles such as caravans or campers to be parked at a friend’s house so that they do not spoil the appearance of your home or obstruct views
  • Try to make sure that a parking space is available as near to your property as possible

To make your home look cosy in the evening:

  • Turn off main lights and switch on table lamps to create warm, subdued lighting
  • Light the fire if you have one, or turn the heating on before the visit
  • Let your visitors take their time.
  • If viewers do not seem to be in a hurry, maybe offer them a cup of tea or coffee? Building a rapport with a potential buyer can make them feel positive about your home

Your Solicitor’s responsibilities

Your solicitor’s main responsibility is attending to the legal documents covering the sale and/or purchase, this is known as conveyancing. To protect the interests of his client, your solicitor will act solely on behalf of either the seller or the buyer. His role is to manage the legal and administrative process through to exchange of contracts and subsequent legal completion.

What will my Solicitor do?

  • When you are selling your home, your solicitor will:
  • Obtain the title deeds which are normally held with the mortgage lender together with mortgageredemption figures (if applicable)
  • Require various pieces of information and documentation from you. It will help speed the process up if you have these ready and to hand including guarantees for damp proofing, timber treatments, FENSA certificates for windows etc.
  • Need your mortgage lender’s name and address and your mortgage reference number; if your property is leasehold the name and address of any freeholder/management company and details of any ground rent, maintenance or service charges and any NHBC documentation
  • Prepare a draft contract for the sale including a description of the property, fixtures and fittings included in the sale, the agreed price and details of any restrictions affecting the property e.g. rights of way
  • Send copies of the title deeds to the buyer’s solicitor
  • Respond to the buyer’s solicitor’s enquiries about the property e.g. ownership of fences, building planning permission etc.
  • Clarify any (necessary) requested amendments by the buyer’s solicitor to the draft contract
  • Agree a date for exchange of contracts with you and the buyer’s solicitor. The completion date is also agreed and is then included in the contract on exchange
  • Arrange for you to sign the contract either at his office or by post
  • Receive the deposit (which is normally either 5% or 10% of the purchase price payable by the buyer upon exchange), and formally exchange contracts, which under English and Welsh law makes the transaction binding on both parties
  • Approve and obtain your signature to the transfer document
  • Arrange for you to sign the mortgage deeds
  • Receive the balance of the sale price in exchange for the property’s deeds and keys on the day ofcompletion and redeem the mortgage

The Sales Process

The simple flow diagram below highlights the main factors of selling a home illustrating the structure and direction of the whole process: