Maximise your chances of a smooth sale with our simple checklist, designed to get you off to the best start when putting your home on the market.
Ask a few agents to value your property. Be objective about what they say, and do not be unduly critical if is not what you wanted to hear. Choose the agent you believe will be best equipped to sell your house, don't base your decision on valuation and fees alone. It is important to use an agent who is experienced in selling similar properties. Your choice in agent should belong to a professional body such as The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) or The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
First impressions count and, for many, opinions regarding properties are formed at the front gate and reinforced at the front door, so it is a good idea to ensure that your house is well presented from the outset.
A good place to start is on the road. As people draw near to your house, make sure that the first impression is favourable and your home is welcoming. Give the front door a fresh coat of paint; ensure the approach is neat and tidy with paths weeded, hedges cut lawns trimmed and gutters cleared. Make sure that your windows are well dressed and the curtains drawn.
You don't need to go as far as baking bread or percolating coffee, but do make sure your home is clean, tidy and welcoming.
It is a good idea to de-clutter. The more neutral a place appears, the broader the chances are of it appealing to the greatest number of people. Consider putting unnecessary items of furniture or possessions into storage, as the more light and space you can create, the larger your house will seem. Pack away, throw away or take to the charity shop any unnecessary items, and be ruthless; the more you do now, the less you will have to do when you move.
In summer, open windows and French doors and introduce the odd vase of flowers. In winter, light the fire and make sure the house feels warm and inviting.
Where possible, leave viewings to your agent and be out; if you have a dog, take it for a walk. A potential buyer will find it easier to imagine themselves in your home if you aren't around.
Arrange viewings at times when you can realistically have the property looking at its best. If you are going to be there, be ready for questions about the property, the neighbours and the locality and be clear about your own reasons for moving on, time scales and flexibility.
When you do get offers, don't necessarily plump for the highest bidder. Ask your agent to find out as much about your buyers as possible: are they really cash buyers, do they have finance in place, do they have anything to sell and, if so, what stage is their sale at and what are their proposed time-scales. Go with the most realistic buyer.
There are some steps you can take to ensure that, once you have agreed terms, the sale of your house progresses as quickly and painlessly as possible. Decide what you are taking with you and what you are not - you don't want a sale to fall apart because you cannot agree over a light fitting. Be ready to move and be as flexible as you can be.
Organisation is instrumental in a smooth transaction and the more information you can provide your solicitor with, the better equipped he will be to handle the sale for you. Inform your solicitor at an early stage that you are planning to sell your house and instruct them to start drawing up the contract and other legal documents. Gather together any guarantees, building certificates, planning permissions, buildings insurance etc., and fill in any standard forms.