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The Process of Selling a House

Zenyx Griffiths

Written by Reviewed by Graham Norwood

19th Feb 2020 (Last updated on 30th Aug 2022) 11 minute read

Selling a house can be a lot more daunting than buying one as it’s usually a more complex process. From finding the right conveyancer to preparing for your completion day, there’s a lot to think about. It can often feel like too much to handle at once. But with the right help, it can be a lot simpler than you think.

Compare My Move are here to guide you through everything you need to know about how to sell your house. We’ve broken the process down so you can follow it step by step.

This article will cover the following:
  1. 1. Organise Your Finances
  2. 2. Find an Estate Agent
  3. 3. Have Your Property Valued
  4. 4. Set an Asking Price
  5. 5. Hire a Conveyancer
  6. 6. Get the Necessary Paperwork in Order
  7. 7. Prepare Your Property
  8. 8. Help With the Marketing of the House
  9. 9. Arrange Viewings
  10. 10. If it’s Not Selling, Reassess the Situation
  11. 11. Accept or Negotiate an Offer
  12. 12. Find Yourself New Accommodation
  13. 13. Get Ready to Move Out
  14. 14. Exchange Contracts and Complete
  15. Next Steps of Selling a House

1. Organise Your Finances

Before you commit to selling your home, you need to make sure that you can definitely afford to sell.

Finding out how much you can borrow for your new home will help you set a budget for how much you can pay for your new home. You will need to calculate how much stamp duty you must pay if you are buying and selling at the same time.

According to our data, it costs £6,624 to sell a freehold house priced at the UK average of £277,000. This includes estate agent fees, conveyancing solicitor fees, Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), porting a mortgage, and the removal company cost.

Below, we’ve provided you with a table listing the average costs included when selling a house:

ServiceAverage Cost
Estate Agent Fees£3,268
Conveyancing Solicitor Fees£1,690
EPC£85
Porting a Mortgage£450
Removal Company Cost£1,181
Total Cost of Selling a House:£6,224

Read our guide on the cost of selling a house for more information.

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2. Find an Estate Agent

Next, it’s time to choose an estate agent to help you sell your property. Hiring an estate agent will take a lot of the pressure off you. They’ll advertise your property and arrange viewings with potential buyers. Research agents who sell homes in your local area by looking through websites, newspapers, and property portals. If you cannot find a suitable local estate agent, you can choose an online agent.

Compare up to three estate agents’ market appraisals before making your final decision. Gather all necessary information before choosing someone and ask them questions. Discuss if you will be selling with vacant possession as this can affect the advertising.

3. Have Your Property Valued

Before deciding on an asking price, it would be worth getting your property valued. Setting the asking price too high will put buyers off and going too low will leave you out of pocket. Compare property sale prices from your local area. You can also have your house valued by different estate agents.

Getting a mortgage valuation is a good idea as you can compare this with the buyers' valuation. The Land Registry can provide a basic valuation of your house and other properties in the area. Using websites such as Rightmove and Zoopla will give you a good idea of marketing and price.

4. Set an Asking Price

Deciding on an asking price can be daunting, but it’s an essential step to getting your house on the market. Your estate agent can advise you but the decision is down to you. Try to be realistic with the price but keep in mind that many buyers will try to negotiate the house price. However, typically, sellers can expect between 95% and 99% of their asking price.

Good agents vary their advice according to the state of the market in the area. Sometimes they will suggest a low price to encourage rival buyers who will offer more. If the market is weak, they may recommend a realistic price so the property is not deemed too expensive. Take time to discuss and research how much your house is worth.

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5. Hire a Conveyancer

While you’re waiting for the house to sell, you should begin comparing conveyancers. The sooner you find a conveyancer, the quicker you can begin the process once you accept an offer. They can provide sound advice if your property is not straightforward such as a Help to Buy or an inherited property.

The conveyancing process sees the selling of a property and is a complex process. Hiring a conveyancer is not a legal requirement, but it is highly recommended. Some of the jobs that your conveyancer will do include drafting contracts, conducting conveyancing searches, and completing any legal documentation.

At Compare My Move, our conveyancing partners go through a verification process to ensure that they are fully regulated. This is guaranteed to make choosing a conveyancer an easier process.

6. Get the Necessary Paperwork in Order

To help move the process along, you need to get your paperwork organised as early as possible. Your conveyancing solicitor will remind you if there are additional documents required. They can assist you with completing forms such as the TA6 Property Information Form. Here’s a list of the main documents you’ll need to sell your house:

  • Property title deeds
  • Energy performance certificate (EPC)
  • Property details and floorplan
  • Recent utility bills
  • Electrical certificates
  • Building regulation certificates
  • Planning permission certificates
  • FENSA certificate
  • Buildings insurance policy
  • Contents insurance policy
  • Mortgage account number
  • The lease if it’s a leasehold property

Delays can occur if certain documents are not retrieved. Documents such as building regulations approval and planning consent are extremely important. If you cannot find them, you should take out a low-cost insurance policy against future claims.

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7. Prepare Your Property

Once everything is in order, it’s time to prepare your property for any upcoming viewings. Give your house a deep clean and start removing any personal touches. You can thoroughly prepare your property and fix any issues that may take a while to resolve.

To help improve your property’s kerb appeal, you could:

  • Add a fresh coat of paint to the exterior
  • Trim and clean your garden
  • Replace any loose or broken tiles
  • Clean your windows inside and out
  • Add hanging baskets
  • Clean the gutters

If you discover any major issues inside your property, it could be worth having a property survey to calculate the potential repair costs. You can then use the results to either renovate and improve the property or alter the asking price. Many buyers will use a house survey to negotiate the price and so having one to compare the results to can be vital.

8. Help With the Marketing of the House

Preparing your house helps with the marketing side of the sale. A photographer will need to be sent to your property to take photos before putting them on the market. Cleaning your house will make the photos look better and attract buyers.

Your estate agent will also need to write a description of the house and include a floor plan. Check these before they are finalised and sent to potential buyers and websites. Once this is completed, your property will be advertised online.

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9. Arrange Viewings

Most high-street agents will conduct viewings on your behalf. However, if you are selling your house without an agent or are using an online agent, this is your responsibility.

Once you know the dates of the viewings, try to ensure that you and any other occupants are out of the house. If you're moving with pets or children, make sure they’re either with you or with friends or family. You don’t want too many people there as a distraction and so the fewer people there the better. Give your home another quick clean and ensure it appears in perfect condition.

You don’t have to do as thorough a job as before, just make your home presentable and ready for guests. A few steps to include could be to:

  • Remove any pet or children’s toys
  • Organise care for any pets or children for the day of the viewing
  • Declutter the rooms
  • Fix any remaining repairs
  • Stage your home with any remaining furniture
  • Remove personal decor
  • Add fresh flowers or fruit in the kitchen and living room
  • Make the beds
  • Add mirrors to any dark rooms or hallways
  • Remove any stubborn stains

10. If it’s Not Selling, Reassess the Situation

If your property isn’t selling or you haven’t received any offers, don’t panic - talk to your estate agent and reassess the situation. Here are the main reasons why properties struggle to sell:

  1. The property lacks kerb appeal
  2. The property needs decluttering
  3. The photographs don’t do the property justice
  4. The asking price is too high
  5. The online marketing needs updating
  6. You or the buyer may be in a long property chain
  7. The property may be difficult to mortgage
  8. The buyers aren’t meeting your criteria
  9. The property survey contained bad results
  10. The property may need refreshing

You’ll find that making the above changes will make a huge difference in selling your property. These are just a few of the things for you to consider if you’re concerned about not receiving enough offers. Each point can be easily fixed and so the sooner you address each issue, the sooner you may receive a more appealing offer.

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11. Accept or Negotiate an Offer

If you receive one or more offers, it’s time to start thinking about whether you will accept the offer or negotiate. Most offers will be less than your asking price so you may want to think about haggling until you reach a happy medium. In most circumstances, the agreed sale price is between 95% and 99% of the asking price.

If there’s no compromising, you’re within your rights to reject the offer outright. But negotiating can be a good way to ensure both parties are content with the deal. Once you’ve found an offer you’re happy with, you must formally accept it and a Memorandum of Sale will be drawn up by the estate agent.

This agreement is not legally binding until you exchange contracts. This means it is possible to accept another offer from a different buyer. This act is called gazumping and it’s often frowned upon due to its unfair nature. Beware of gazundering too. This is when a buyer lowers their offer at the last minute, putting you in a difficult position.

What Should You Look for in a Buyer?

It’s important to remind yourself that you don’t have to accept the first offer that comes in. Take the time to carefully evaluate the situation and decide if they’re the right buyer to commit to.

Rather than accepting the highest offer immediately, there are other factors you should consider. For example, if they are a cash house buyer, the process will be completed much more quickly. Here are some other questions to ask yourself:

  • Is the buyer a first-time buyer?
  • Is the buyer chain-free?
  • What is the financial position of the potential buyer?

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12. Find Yourself New Accommodation

Selling a house can be a daunting and time-consuming process so don’t forget to focus on your own situation too. It’s important to make sure you have somewhere to stay before ownership is transferred.

You can start house-hunting whenever you feel ready. It would be wise to start looking when your house is under offer or Sold Subject to Contract (SSTC). The sooner you buy a house, the quicker the process can continue for both you and the buyer. Moving out early reduces the length of your property chain. This means there will be a quicker transaction and a lower chance of delays.

If you have found your ideal home before selling your property, you can consider a bridging loan. This is a high-interest loan that provides short-term funding before the sale is complete.

13. Get Ready to Move Out

When you are negotiating the contract, you need to prepare to move out of the property. Keep a clear line of communication with your estate agent and conveyancer. This means you are updated on any changes. The sooner you’re out of the property, the less stressful it will be.

Now is the time to start comparing removal companies to ensure you get the best deal from the most professional company in your local area. All Compare My Move removal partners have gone through our removals verification process. This ensures they deliver the high standards that our users expect. Take a look at our moving checklist if you’re not sure how to begin.

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14. Exchange Contracts and Complete

This is the stage where the buyer becomes the new legal owner of the property. At this point, both parties should have come to an agreement and a memorandum of sale should be completed. If there are no further changes to be made, you will exchange contracts, making the sale legally binding.

Once the contracts have been exchanged, you must agree on a completion date. Completion day often occurs 7-28 days after the exchange of contracts. It is at this point when all the payments are made, the deeds are transferred and your house is officially sold.

On this day, your estate agent must hand over the keys to the buyer and you should move or be in the process of moving out.

Next Steps of Selling a House

This article has been part of our home selling guide. In our next article, we look at when you should sell your home. To find out more see: When is the Best Time to Sell Your House?

Zenyx Griffiths

Before Compare My Move, Zenyx once wrote lifestyle and entertainment articles for the online magazine, Society19 as well as news articles for Ffotogallery.

Graham Norwood

Reviewed by Graham Norwood

Property Journalist and Editor,

With over 15 years of experience in residential property journalism, Graham is currently the editor for both Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today.