10 Ways to sell your home

1. Prepare your budget and visualise your next home

Before you put your home up for sale you need to try and form a realistic idea of your requirements, you will need to have an image of where and what kind of home you want to move to. Get a feel for the house prices in your area and the area you would like to move into, with any house sale, once you have a realistic idea of your likely sale price, you can easily calculate your buying power. It's amazing how many house sellers miss this planning stage. One in three house sales in the UK fail every year; to be a success story you need a plan.

2. Prepare your Home

Prior to placing your property on the market, it is key to prepare your home; you will need to remove your personality from your home as much as possible, this can be achieved by rearrange the furnishing, pictures, accessories to show each room with space, a clear function, and emphasise the good points.Key elements include: making your home neutral by removing your personality and allowing potential buyers to envisage themselves living in your home. Ensure the front of your home looks clean and well cared for. Maximise your space in each room by removing any excess furniture and getting rid of clutter in cupboards. Keep up with the little DIY jobs that show you care for your home. Tidy the garden. Keep your home clean and smelling fresh. Spending a little time and money on getting your property ready for selling is money well spent will enhance the saleability of your property. Remember first impressions do count.

3. Communicate with your estate agent

Ask for feedback. This is crucial. Your agent should be giving you feedback from viewers within 24 hours to enable you to make decisions and to react to points that will inevitably be made. This will allow you to make your home even better for next time.

4. Know your target market

Where your home is and its size and layout will give you clues as to who your target market will be. Your target buyer could fall into a number of different categories including: family with young children, family with older children, retired couple with grown up children, young couple, single people and students. You need to have a clear idea of your target market and try and plan your home to be as appealing as possible to that market.

5. Be ready for the viewing

You should always be ready for a viewing at short notice; they could be your buyers. Whilst your house is on the market you should never have a messy or uncared for home. Invite a good friend round, and give them the full "grand tour" and ask them what they think. Take good and bad criticism on the chin and listen to what they suggest.

6. Lower the asking price

To make your property more attractive to a potential buyer, particularly if there are lots of properties like yours for sale, lower your asking price. If a buyer is faced with two very similar properties but one is less expensive than the other, which one do you think they will choose to buy?

7. Keep Positive

It may take weeks or even months to find your ideal buyer and through it all you must remain positive and focused. Never come across as desperate. How quickly you sell your home will depend on the time of year, the current market and other factors too. You will get there in the end, don't lose faith and keep in touch with your Estate Agent.

8. Select the best estate agent

The best estate agent for you will be the company and individual that you feel most comfortable with. A company that has good local knowledge and has well developed marketing skills.

9. Stage your viewing

A viewing is a chance to sell your home and you should use every second for maximum impact. Presenting or "staging" your home does not involve redecorating it. Redecorating your home would be about you, the seller and your personality. Staging focuses on the buyer.

10. Don't overvalue your home

It's tempting to instruct the estate agent that promises to market your home for the highest price. This may not always be the best decision. Overvaluing your home can mean that it stays on the market, unsold for many weeks until you realise that you have to reduce the price, by which time your home is "old news" and this can cause problems.

Terms explained simply

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | U | V

A

Additional security fee

An up-front, one off fee paid to the lender to protect them against the borrower defaulting on the loan. Usually, charged on mortgages over 75% of the house value. Also known as MIG, Indemnity Guarantee premium and Mortgage Indemnity Premium.

A.I.P.

Agreement in principle. Certificate that a mortgage lender has agreed to lend a sum of money based on the information provided. This should not be confused with a mortgage offer.

Annual percentage rate

(APR) the total cost of a loan, including all costs, interest charges and arrangement fees shown as a percentage rate and easily comparable with mortgage interest rates.

Arrangement fees

Charged to arrange a loan on certain products. Usually applied to loans where a special interest rate applies e.g. fixed or capped rates.

Assignment

The transfer of ownership of an insurance policy or lease.

Auction

The sale of a property to the highest bidder.

B

Basic variable mortgage rate

Mortgage lender's standard rate of interest which may be increased or decreased periodically by the lender depending on prevailing economic conditions.

Bridging loan

A temporary loan providing financial cover which allows a purchaser to complete on the purchase of a new property before selling the previous property.

Building survey (formerly full structural survey)

A full inspection of the property, conducted by a chartered surveyor, who then writes a detailed report including any property defects. Suitable for any house, particularly older properties and those which have been poorly maintained. Also for properties which have been extensively altered or extended, or any property you may wish to alter or extend.

Buy to let mortgage

A type of mortgage specifically designed for people buying a property with the intention of letting it out.

C

Capital

The amount of the loan on which interest is calculated.

Capped mortgage

Normally agreed for a fixed period of time, many lenders provide mortgages with an upper limit on the interest rate. Thus if the standard interest rate is lower than the upper limit you will be charged the lower rate, but if the standard variable rate is higher you will be charged at the agreed rate.

Chain

The situation that occurs when a buyer is reliant upon completion of the sale of his existing property, in order to complete on the purchase of his new property.

CML

The council of mortgage lenders, which as devised the Mortgage Code to ensure lenders treat customers fairly.

Completion

The point at which all transactions concerning the property’s sale are concluded and legal transfer of ownership passes to the buyer.

Conditions of sale

The details which determine the rights and duties of the buyer and seller. These may be national, statutory, or the Law Society’s conditions.

Contents insurance

Insurance to cover any loss or damage to your possessions within the property.

Contract

A legal agreement between the seller and buyer of a property which binds both parties to complete the transaction.

Contract race

When two parties have made an offer on the same house. The vendor will sell to the first party to exchange contracts, ie: it's a race!.

Conveyancer

A qualified individual such as a solicitor or licensed conveyancer who deals with the legal aspects of buying or selling a property.

Conveyancing

Traditional term for the legal work involved in the purchase and sale of a property.

Covenants

Rules and regulations governing the property, contained in its title deeds or lease

D

Deeds

Legal title documents proving ownership. The deeds will be held by the mortgage lender.

Deposit

A sum of money paid by the buyer on exchange of contracts.

Detached

Term used to describe a property that stands alone and is separated from all others.

Development

A newly built residence or an older property which has been refurbished and modernised.

Disbursements

Fees paid by the buyer's solicitor on the buyer’s behalf such as stamp duty, land registry and search fees.

Discharge

Paying off a mortgage.

Domestic Energy Assessor

An inspector who carries out the Energy Performance Certificate for the Home Information Pack.

Draft Contract

Preliminary, unconfirmed version of the contract

E

Early redemption charge (ERC)

A charge made by the lender if the borrower terminates a mortgage in advance of the terms of the particular mortgage. Normally occurs when the borrower has benefited from reduced payments or cash back in the early period of a mortgage.

Endowment mortgage

Interest-only repayments combined with monthly premiums into an endowment policy designed to pay off the loan at the end of the term.

Energy Performance Certificate

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is required when selling. Once this has been commissioned the property can be actively marketed. The EPC rates the energy efficiency (running cost) of the property and its CO2 impact on the environment. A Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) will visit your property to complete the EPC.

Equity

The difference between the value of a property and the amount of mortgage owed.

Excess

The initial sum you have to pay on an insurance claim.

Exchange of contracts

The point at which signed contracts are physically exchanged, legally committing the buyer and seller to the purchase and sale of a property at the agreed price.

F

Failed valuation survey

When the lender turns down your mortgage application after the surveyor’s valuation report indicates the property is not worth the sum sought.

Fixed rate mortgage

A mortgage in which the interest rate is set for an agreed period of time.

Fixtures & fittings

All non-structural items included in the purchase of a property.

Flexible mortgage

An arrangement whereby you can increase or decrease your mortgage repayments.

Freehold

Technical word for the ownership of the property, meaning that it belongs to the owner without limitation of time.

G

Gazumping

This is when a seller accepts a higher offer from a third party on a property that they have agreed to sell to someone else, but have not yet exchanged contracts.

Gazundering

When a buyer offers the seller a lower offer just before contracts are about to be exchanged.

Ground rent

The annual charge levied by the freeholder to the leaseholder.

Guarantor

The lender may sometimes require a borrower to appoint a guarantor. This is someone who promises to pay the borrowers debt if the borrower defaults.

H

Home Information Pack

Package of documents including an index, sale statement, evidence of title, standard searches and an Energy Performance Certificate.

Homebuyer's survey and valuation (house/flat buyer's report)

This is a survey report, which is not as detailed as a structural survey, carried out by a chartered surveyor to assess the state of a property and its value.

HMO

Homes of Multiple Occupancy

I

IFA

Independent Financial Advisor.

Individual savings account (ISA) mortgage

An interest only mortgage linked to an Individual Savings Account fund, which is designed to pay off the loan at the end of the period.

Interest charges (mortgage)

The charges that banks make on a loan, calculated as a percentage of the amount borrowed.

Interest-only mortgage

There are 2 types of mortgage, interest-only or capital repayment. Interest-only mortgage stays the same throughout the mortgage term. Interest and a premium to an investment vehicle are paid monthly. At the end of the term, the proceeds from the investment vehicle are intended to repay the mortgage. The amount will depend on the performance of the investment vehicle. If you choose an interest only mortgage you will be responsible for ensuring that you have sufficient funds available to repay your mortgage at the end of the term.

J

Joint tenants

A form of ownership for two parties whereby if one of them dies, their share of the property will automatically transfer to the remaining party, giving them full ownership (regardless of the terms of the deceased owner's will

L

Land registry fee

Paid to the Land Registry to register ownership of a property.

Lease

A legal document by which the freehold (or leasehold) owner of a property lets the premises or a part of it to another party for a specified length of time, after the expiry of which ownership may revert to the freeholder or superior leaseholder.

Leasehold

Denotes that the ownership of the property is by way of a lease.

Lender’s arrangement fees

Charge passed on to the buyer by the lender for arranging a loan.

Lender’s legal fees

The fees incurred by the lender when arranging a mortgage. These costs are passed on to the buyer.

Listed building

One officially listed as being of special architectural or historic interest, which cannot be demolished or altered without (local) government consent.

Loan to value (LTV)

The size of the mortgage as a percentage of the property’s value.

Local authority search

Procedure whereby a buyer's solicitor makes an enquiry to the local council regarding any outstanding enforcement or future development issues which might affect the property or immediate area.

M

Maintenance charge (or service charge)

The cost of repairing and maintaining external or internal communal parts of a building charged to the tenant or leaseholder.

Maisonette

A property arranged over more than one floor (ie: a portion of the house).

Mortgage

An amount of money advanced by a lender such as a bank or building society on the security of a property and repayable over a long period.

Mortgage deed

A legal document relating to the mortgage lenders interest in the property and containing the terms of the mortgage.

Mortgage indemnity guarantee (MIG)

An insurance policy that mortgage lenders may require buyers to pay for if their loan is above a specified proportion of the purchase price.

Mortgage indemnity premium (MIP)

An insurance policy that protects the lender against default of mortgage repayments. Although the policy benefits the lender, it is the borrower who usually pays the premium.

Mortgage offer

Formal confirmation from lender that they are willing to lend a specific sum on a specific address along with there full terms and conditions.

Mortgage payment protection (MPP)

This is an insurance designed to pay your monthly mortgage for a limited period usually a year if you are unable to work through illness, disability or redundancy.

Mortgage rate

The standard variable interest rate quoted by all mortgage lenders, which normally varies with the Bank of England base rate. All discounted rates are based on this mortgage rate.

Mortgage term

The period of time over which (repayment mortgage) or at the end of which (endowment mortgage) the loan is to be repaid.

Mortgagee

The lender of a mortgage (ie: bank or building society).

N

Negative equity

When the value of the property falls to less than the outstanding mortgage.

NHBC scheme (National House-Building Council)

A type of building guarantee available on some newly built homes under which defects occurring within a specified time after construction are remedied.

O

Offer

A sum of money that the buyer offers to pay for a property.

Offer of a loan

A formal document approving the mortgage you have requested and detailing the terms and conditions that will apply.

Ombudsman

Independent professional bodies who investigate complaints on behalf of customers against, for example, estate agents, solicitors and insurance companies.

Open market value

The price a property would achieve when there is a willing buyer and willing seller.

P

Payment break

An option on flexible mortgages that allows you to stop making mortgage payments for up to 6 months.

Penalties

Costs that may be incurred if the borrower repays the loan too early or switches between lenders.

Peppercorn ground rent

A nominal periodic rent usually paid annually.

Pied a terre

A property kept for temporary secondary or occasional occupation.

Preliminary enquiries

The initial enquiries about a property put forward to a seller which the seller must answer before the exchange of contracts.

Premium

The monthly amount payable for an insurance policy.

Principal

The sum of the loan on which interest is calculated.

Public liability insurance

Insurance which covers injury or death to anyone on or around your property.

Purchaser

A person who is buying a property.

R

Redemption

When a mortgage is fully repaid.

Re-mortgage

Refinancing a property by either switching a mortgage from one lender to another or by taking out a second mortgage to draw down any equity gained by a rise in value.

Repayment mortgage

A mortgage repaid by way of monthly repayments of capital combined with interest.

Repossession

When the mortgage lender takes possession of your property due to non-payment of the mortgage.

Retention

Holding back part of a mortgage loan until repairs or specified works to the property are satisfactorily completed.

S

Search

A request or enquiry for information concerning the property held by a local authority or by the land registry.

Semi-detached

A property which is joined to one other house.

Service charge

See Maintenance Charge.

Sole agent

When a seller chooses only one estate agent to sell their home.

Solicitor

Legal expert handling all documentation for the sale or purchase of a property.

Stamp duty

A tax paid by purchasers of properties with a value in excess of ?125,000, of between 1% and 4% depending on value.

Structural survey

See Building survey.

Studio Flat

A flat consisting of one main room or open-plan living area incorporating cooking and sleeping facilities and a separate bathroom/shower room.

Subject to Contract

Words to indicate that an agreement is not yet legally binding.

Surveyor

Professionally-qualified expert who carries out the survey.

T

Tenancy

A temporary possession of a property by a tenant.

Tenancy agreement

A legal agreement designed to protect the rights of the tenant and landlord and setting out all the terms and conditions of the rental arrangements.

Tenant

A person who has temporary possession of a property.

Tenants in common

A form of ownership by two or more people in which if one of them dies, their share of the property forms part of their estate and does not automatically pass to the other(s).

Tenure

Conditions on which a property is held (ie: length of lease).

Terraced house

A property which forms part of a connected row of houses.

Title deeds

Documents showing the legal ownership of a property.

Transfer deeds

The land registry document that transfers legal ownership from seller to buyer.

U

Under offer

The status of a property for sale, when a seller has accepted an offer from a purchaser but prior to exchange of contracts.

Valuation

A basic survey of a property to estimate its value for mortgage purposes. Mortgage lenders will insist on this before lending.

V

Variable base Rate

The basic rate of interest charged on a mortgage. This may change in reaction to market conditions, so your monthly payments can go up or down.

Vendor

The legal name for a person selling a property.

Buying

Check out your finances

Before you go looking for your new home, find how much you can afford, what it will cost and whether it fits into your monthly budget.

Take advice from a mortgage lender or an independent mortgage broker who will be able to provide you with illustrations of payments and source the right mortgage for you.

We have our own independent mortgage advisor on site, so we can do the groundwork to source you the best deal amongst the thousand s of products on the market.

It is best to go viewing houses once you have an “agreement in principle” from a lender.

Finding the right home

Once you know your budget contact estate agents, look at adverts and log onto property websites for the right home. Decide on the criteria, then view as many as you can. Good quality estate agents will accompany you to the viewings and will offer help and advice to find the right property

Know Your Chain

Before you submit an offer it is best to know your chain, how long it is and how much progress each person involved has made. You are totally dependent on the quality of each member of your chain, if one person experiences a problem, it will have the knock on effect to the other parties involved too. We will always check with other estate agents that the chain is strong before submitting offers.

Agreeing the sale

We will negotiate with the vendors (sellers) on your behalf until we arrive at a price you are both happy with. This may also include fixtures and fittings and making all parties aware of projected time frames.

Unsuccessful offers must always be communicated in writing.

Instructing a solicitor

Once your offer has been accepted you will need to instruct a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to act for you. A licensed conveyancer will do the same job as a solicitor but they specialise only in the legal transfer of property or land. We can offer you recommendations of various solicitors or conveyancers from our selected panel. Each firm is recommended on the basis they will offer prompt service, a speedy return of phone calls at a competitive fee.

Submitting your mortgage application

Within a day or so of having your offer accepted, you will need to get your mortgage application under way. This may be done at the estate agents office, at the bank or building society or on line. Either way you will normally need to pay a mortgage valuation fee.

This is a basic appraisal of the property that reports the value of the property. This can be upgraded to a Homebuyers Report. This is more comprehensive covering far greater detail. If the survey spots anything of a structural nature it will then recommend a structural report or investigation. Cash buyers will need to arrange the valuation themselves if they require one.

The mortgage lender will carry out status enquiries on you. These relate to you credit worthiness, income and other commitments. Once the lender is happy with both you and the property they will issue the formal mortgage offer.

The mortgage offer is the written offer of a mortgage on a particular house, not to be confused with an agreement in principle.

The legalities

Whilst your mortgage application is being processed your solicitor will make contact with the vendors solicitor to request a draft contract. Once received, they will approve it and apply for the searches. The standard searches are the local authority and the water and drainage search. These will reveal anything that may in the future affect your enjoyment of the property you are buying.

Your solicitor will raise enquires to the vendors solicitor and once your solicitor is happy the property has good title and the right one to buy, you will be asked to sign the contract. Your solicitor will not exchange contracts until they are fully satisfied with the legal title.

Exchanging Contracts

This is the point of no return. Once you have exchanged contracts, you and the seller are legally bound. A deposit is normally paid and penalties will be incurred if the sale does not complete.

The completion date, the day you actually move is set in stone at this point.

Moving Day

Also known as completion. This has to be a weekday and not a public holiday. This is the day that your solicitor transfers the full payment to the sellers’ solicitors. Once successfully received, the keys can be released to you.

Selling

Get your house valued

The first thing to do when considering if to sell is to get your property valued. You need to know how much your current property is worth and how much equity you have.

It is normal to speak to two or three estate agents before deciding which one to instruct. It is best to choose the agent who has the greatest chance of selling it, usually the one that offers the highest impact marketing and best service. Don’t always choose the agent who values it the highest and charges the lowest fee as they may not be capable of selling it.

Viewings

Once on the market your estate agent will be working hard to generate viewings. It is best to choose an agent who accompanies viewings, as the agent will normally know the requirements of the prospective purchaser. After the viewing you should expect feedback.

Do not stipulate who can and cannot view your property. Some sellers insist on only buyers, who are in a position to proceed, can view their house. In a less active market, this can restrict the number of viewings. Do allow people with properties to sell to view too, as they may sell themselves a few days later, converting them into good prospects. If you do not allow viewers with properties to sell through your door, they may not come back to view when they have sold.

Offers

We negotiate with your prospective buyer until we agree a figure that you are both happy with. Unsuccessful offers will be acknowledged in writing. If you accept an offer and are intending to buy another property, this is the time to start viewing in earnest and submit an offer.

Instructing a solicitor

Once you have accepted an offer you will need to instruct a solicitor to act for you. A licensed conveyancer will do the same job but they specialise in the legal transfer of property or land only. We can offer you recommendations of various solicitors or conveyancers from our selected panel. Each firm is recommended on the basis they will offer prompt service, a speedy return of phone calls at a competitive fee.

The legalities

Your solicitor will send you a Sellers Property Information form to complete. This is a series of questions relating to the property and how you use it, along with details or mortgages or loans that you may have secured against the property. You will need to provide warranties or guarantees, building regulations and planning permissions for any works or modifications carried out.

You will also be required to complete a Fixtures & Fittings list, which outlines exactly what is going to stay at the property and what you will be taking.

In the meantime a surveyor or valuer should be carrying out a valuation on your property in order for your buyer to receive a mortgage offer.

Your solicitor will send a draft contract along with other supporting documents to the buyer’s solicitor to approve and then raise enquiries. Your buyer’s solicitor will also apply for searches and satisfy the mortgagee’s conditions.

Exchanging Contracts

After you have signed the contract your solicitor will be in a position to exchange them. This is the point of no return and when you and the buyer are legally bound. A completion (moving) date is set at this point. If you are making a related purchase your solicitor will exchange contracts on your new house at the same time so that you are not left with two houses or no house at all.

Moving Day

Also known as completion. This has to be a weekday and not a public holiday. This is the day that your solicitor receives the purchase monies from your buyer’s solicitors and pays off any mortgages or loans you have secured on your property.

You will need to clear all your possessions from the property including any rubbish, read your meters and give the keys to the estate agent. These will not be released to your buyer until your solicitor is in receipt of the purchase funds.