1. Target Potential Buyers
The first thing to think about when selling your house is to consider who you think might buy your property and then tailor your space to appeal to them for examples, young families, retired or professional couples.
Just be careful not to tailor your house too much and alienate other groups that might also be interested. Spring (February and March) and Autumn (September) are the key times to sell your house when traditionally demand outstrips supply and therefore prices are usually at their most buoyant.
Potential buyers need to imagine themselves living in your house so a real good tidy up and removal of clutter, ornaments and photos is advised, especially posters in children's bedrooms. Put things you don't really use on a daily basis in the loft or even into storage including large items of furniture - this will make the rooms feel much bigger.
De-clutter any over-stuffed wardrobes as people do look in them to check the amount of storage space so clear them out. Focus on the hallway and make this clutter free so remove any shoes and coats. In the the bathroom you should de-clutter by hiding away all your products such as Shampoo, toothpaste, aftershaves and so on. In the kitchen clear the worktop of any jars, tins, etc, and replace any old tea towels or stinky bins.
3. Freshen Up
It's amazing what a lick of new paint can do! Picking neutral paints, especially white can do wonders to smarten up a tired-looking property and make it smell cleaner too. New tiling, lino or kitchen doors can all be upgraded fairly cheaply and make a big difference.
In the bathroom, re-tiling is a fairly expensive job but re-grouting is very effective in putting a lease of new life into any bathroom. New chrome fittings such as taps, re-painting the front door; clean the windows, iron bed sheets, instal up-lighters in the living room for subtle lighting; and strategically placing flowers such as fragrant lilies throughout.
If you don't have the time to re-decorate, make sure the house is sparkling and spotless. Any tired carpets can be professionally cleaned and think about getting a window cleaner in, clean windows make a good impression. It is also a good idea to pay special attention to the bathroom/s and kitchen area - make sure they are hygienic and inviting. Think about replacing the toilet seat, replace towels with new white towels and strategically place a few plants here and there such as yuccas or orchids.
If you have a garden, this can be a great selling point so make sure the lawn is mowed if it's Spring or Summer time and clear away any clutter you may have such as children's toys.
4. Choosing the right estate agent and solicitor
It's recommended that you should try to get at least 3 estate agents to value your property, they don't charge so you have nothing to lose. Also make sure you have a property comparable report so you'll have a headstart on establishing the right price for your property. Take this comparable report along to your chosen Estate Agent and you should then be able to agree a realistic price for your property based on your report together with the agent's comparables.
When it comes to choosing the estate agent, it's tempting to go with the agent that gives you the highest valuation and says yes when you ask "can you sell my house fast?". Be careful here as many estate agents will attempt to tie you into a 12 week exclusive contract. If this is the case you should negotiate the minimum time possible. This way if you're not happy with the service, you can change or go multi-agency. For both estate agents and solicitors, you'll want someone you can relate to personally; someone who is very active in the local market and is reputable. Preparation is key, so it's a good idea to instruct a solicitor to do your conveyancing early. Ask them to prepare a draft contract and apply for the title deeds, while you pull together all your own paperwork on the property - that is, all building certificates for any structural building work carried out, and any valid work guarantees for word worm, damp, etc.
5. Valuation and Sale Prices
Always try to negotiate on estate agents' fees, and ensure you have the final fee agreed in writing. Also, ask your solicitor to fully explain all costs associated with selling. Finally, find out from your mortgage lender whether you will be hit with any redemption penalties. Then you'll know at what price you can afford to sell.
6. Viewing Preparation
This may seem obvious but we shall say it anyway - make sure you always have a for sale board up! Also tell your family, friends and neighbours and use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter as word of mouth is a powerful tool.
First impressions really do count and therefore your property should be as presentable as possible. Sweep up any leaves, move any bins if possible, clean the windows and depending on the time of day, turn on the outside light. Basically make your property as inviting as possible. It's worth considering leaving any pets you may have with family or neighbours during viewings and thoroughly vacuum up any dog or cat hair as many people are allergic to animal hair. Turn the heating on during cold spells and air out the house. Whatever you do, do not smoke or cook a curry before any viewings as this is a major put off for potential buyers. If you've got parking with your property, consider leaving the space free for the buyer as this will add to the whole experience.
7. Property Viewings
Property viewings can be done either by yourself or an estate agent. We'd recommend you go out and let your estate agent take potential buyers around your property as they are the experts. If you must show your property yourself, then decide beforehand what order you will show the rooms, and guide viewers around the property once, showing the best rooms first or last. Don't overload them with detail, such as the size of your boiler or the trouble with the neighbour's cat. Be business-like during the first viewing; if someone is interested, you can always get to know them a little more on the second viewing. Never point out problems or issues, but do feel free to highlight the odd positive point, like a south-facing garden or very convenient parking. Finally, invite viewers to take another viewing of your property on their own and be somewhere nearby, on hand to answer any questions.
8. Which Buyer?
The highest price offer for your property is not always the best choice. Make sure you listen to your estate agent's expert advice on buyers and push your agent to investigate as much about the buyers' circumstances as possible, especially their finances e.g. do they have already have a mortgage in place? If so, ask to see a mortgage 'in principle' letter from their lender. If not, tread with extreme caution. Cash buyers are best but they are rare. Perhaps some first-time buyers are interested in your property and therefore in no chain i.e. they don't need to sell their property in order to buy your property.
This buyer if the mortgage 'in principle' letter is evident is one of the safest type of buyers as there is no chain - chains are the main cause of property sales falling through - buyers who can't sell their property in time. So if your potential buyer has a property to sell it should be under offer before you take your property off the market. Also, find out about any forward chains that could complicate agreeing completion dates further down the line. Additional purchasers and buyers returning to the market are usually good news - as long as their finances are in place, then there should be less potential hurdles here.
9. Accepting Offers
This is where your estate agent earns their fees by being the middleman and presenting and negotiating offers that are made. You should insist that your agent has as much background information to hand on the buyer's position as possible, and the ability to move quickly and ask that offers be made in writing. How much the buyer loves the property, market conditions and competition will all determine what the buyer is prepared to offer.
Similarly, the price you're prepared to accept will depend on market conditions; how fast you need to sell; and the size of your moving budget. Compromise on both sides is often the key to securing a deal. Another thing to consider is selling any of your furniture, curtains and white goods to your buyer as many of these items may not suit your next home, and can be used as effective bargaining tools to get the best price.
10. Holding the Deal Together
This is where the hard work starts, and the longer it takes to reach exchange of contracts, the higher the chances of the deal or of the buyer gazundering (i.e. dropping their price). So keep in weekly contact with your solicitor and agent to ensure that channels of communication stay open. You need to be kept informed of where the conveyancing is at, and how your buyer is feeling about the progress of the transaction - you need to know whether they are still highly motivated, or off looking at other things to keep their options open.