Preparing for sale
There are several things you can do in preparation for selling your property. These can help make a good impression to prospective buyers and save you some time when it comes to moving.
You want to show your home at its best, so start by clearing clutter and having a good spring clean. Keep in mind that potential buyers may want to look in cupboards or storerooms, so it’s important to not just hide things. This will also help when the time comes to start packing. Listed below are some areas to pay particular attention to.
- Windows, entrance doors and porches are clean and in good condition
- Paths, patios, and driveways are clean and clear of weeds and algae
- Walls and fencing are in good order and recently painted
- Garden is well maintained with grass cut and hedges trimmed
If it has been some time since your home was last painted, a lick of paint may be worthwhile. But remember that larger decoration projects may not be necessary or important for potential buyers.
It is important to ensure that your home and any fixtures and fittings that are part of the sale are fully functional. Again, remember that bigger renovation projects may not be necessary, and it is important to weigh up the costs as they may not increase the value of your home substantially.
The costs of selling
The process of buying and selling a home is expensive. As well as the cost of property itself, there are additional costs to consider, especially if you are selling one property and buying another at the same time.
- First you will want to get an idea of the value of your property. You could check the price of similar properties in your area or ask an estate agent for their view on the value of your home.
- Then consider the amount outstanding on your current mortgage (if applicable). Your mortgage lender can provide you with a redemption figure. If you have a fixed rate mortgage you will want to check if there are any fees to leave the term early or if you can move your existing mortgage to another property (if necessary).
- If you are buying another property that is more expensive, you may want to speak with a mortgage provider or financial advisor if you intend to borrow more.
- Any repair costs that may be required to make your property sell
- Estate agent fees
- Energy Performance Certificate fee (if you don’t already have a valid EPC)
- Solicitor fees for selling and (if applicable) buying another property
- Packing / removal costs
- Stamp Duty Land Tax (if you are buying another property)
Gathering the paperwork
Your estate agent and/or solicitor will ask you for some paperwork that you may have relating to your property. It is useful to gather this information at this stage so that it is ready when needed.
- Where your title deeds are – these may be with a solicitor or lender
- Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
- Ground rent information such as the last receipt for ground rent if you pay this
- Gas safety certificate (for each appliance where necessary)
- Service charge information and receipt for payment (if applicable)
- Planning permission, building control approval, or other consents if the property has had any alterations or extensions to it
- Notices (if you have received any on your property)
Home selling process
Now that you have prepared your property for sale, considered your finances, and gathered the necessary documents, it’s time to start the home selling process. Note that Step 1 to Step 3 below will usually happen simultaneously.
You can do this by using a local estate agent, an online agent or choose to sell your home yourself.
Checking out similar properties for sale in your area can give you an initial idea of the value of your home. An estate agent’s valuation can guide you further. You may want to ask more than one estate agent to value your home. An estate agent may charge a fee for this.
Before you instruct an estate agent you may wish to ask them for a note of what their fee would be to act in the sale of your home
An EPC is necessary to place your home on the market and is a legal requirement when selling a property. It makes potential buyers aware of the energy rating of the property they are purchasing and provides recommendations on how to improve energy efficiency. If you do not already have a valid EPC you will need to get one before the home is placed on the market. If you have appointed an estate agent they may be able to arrange this for you.
At this stage you will need to appoint a solicitor. Sometimes people choose solicitors based on recommendations from family or friends. If you need help in appointing a solicitor, you can view the Law Society NI Solicitor Directory here. You should ask solicitors for an outline of their costs.
Your solicitor will ask you to complete a series of questions called “Replies to Pre-contract Enquiries” about the property. Your solicitor will also ask you to complete a fixtures and fittings list – is a list where you can clarify what things you want to take with you to your new home, which things will be left and are included in the sale price and those items which are available for the buyer to buy from you.
Once you agree a sale on your property your solicitor will do the legal aspects of selling your home. You will need to provide all the necessary information as detailed in the previous ‘Gathering the paperwork’ section. Your solicitor will use this information to prepare the contract that both you and the buyer need to agree on.
Signing the contract means that you are legally committing to selling your home. The contract will note the completion date – the date on which you will move out of your property and the buyer will move in. Once you and the purchaser have signed the contract you can no longer pull out of a house sale without major consequences.
It is common to sign the contract a number or weeks before the completion and before signing you and the purchaser will need to agree a completion date.
There are several things you need to tick off prior to the completion date:
- Pack up your belongings and get ready to move
- Book a packing service or removals company
- Arrange to set-up or move any utilities such as electricity, gas, phone, and broadband as necessary
- Arrange insurance for your new home (if applicable)
- Transfer any funds to your solicitor
Prior to completion your solicitor will provide you with a breakdown of all costs. These will depend on whether you are just selling your home or buying another property at the same time and will include:
- Solicitor fees and outlay
- Estate agent fees (if applicable)
- Stamp Duty Land Tax (if applicable)
There may be other costs depending on the nature of the property and the sale.
A few days before the completion date you will need to transfer any funds to your solicitor as necessary. Your solicitor will manage the proceeds from the property you are selling alongside the purchase of any other property you may be buying.
On completion day:
- Ask what the arrangements are to hand over the keys to the new owner(s).
- Make sure that all fittings and fixtures that are part of the sale are left accordingly.
- Read any electricity or gas meters on the day you move out and contact your providers to inform them that you have moved.
- Your solicitor will receive the sale proceeds, pay off any outstanding mortgage (if applicable) and then transfer any remaining funds to you.
Once you have moved to your new accommodation (if you have not already told them) you will wish to tell various people that you have moved and give them your new address. These include:
- Land and Property Services – that you have moved from your former home and are no longer responsible for the rates on it
- Utility companies – such as gas and electricity companies that you are no longer responsible for these at your former home
- Important people like your GP or dentist that you have moved
- Any insurance company you use
- The Driver and Vehicle Agency
- Any banks or building societies you have accounts with
- Your telephone, broadband provider etc.
What should I do now?
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