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10 Top Tips for Selling Your House

Written by Reviewed by Graham Norwood

1st Jun 2020 (Last updated on 23rd Sep 2020) 16 minute read

Whether you’re working to a deadline or just want to get organised, our top tips will help you through the selling process and show you the most important factors to consider when getting ready. Selling a property can be stressful, but with the right help and a bit of preparation, the process can be easier than it seems.  

Compare My Move work with trusted finance and property experts to aid you through your selling journey. From choosing the right estate agent to preparing for viewings, this article includes everything you need to know when selling your property.

This article will cover the following:
  1. 1. Choose a Reliable Estate Agent
  2. 2. Research Sold Prices in Your Area
  3. 3. Declutter Rooms
  4. 4. Paint, Fix and Clean
  5. 5. Define the Key Rooms in Your House
  6. 6. Create a Light, Airy and Welcoming Feel
  7. 7. Increase Your Property’s Kerb Appeal
  8. 8. Prepare and Plan for Viewings
  9. 9. Shortlist the Best Buyers
  10. 10. Consider Alternatives if the House Doesn’t Sell
  11. Saving Time and Money When You Sell

1. Choose a Reliable Estate Agent

Selling a house can be a stressful process and so, choosing the right estate agent is a vital first step to take. Your agent will guide you through the process and have a large impact on how long it’ll take you to sell your property. 

You should be looking for an estate agent with proven and modern marketing techniques and someone who has experience in advertising a property like yours. This could mean hiring a local agent or someone who specialises in your property type for example. 

Here are a few of our top tips for choosing a reliable estate agent:

Shop around 

Don’t choose the first agent you find. It’s important to compare agencies and check reviews to ensure they’re right for you. If you look online, you’ll find a variety of agents in your local area; you can ask friends and neighbours for recommendations; you can also use a growing number of comparison websites which 'rate' agents.  

Don’t forget to visit your local high street estate agents also as they’ll probably have the best understanding of your local neighbourhood compared to an agent who works solely online, from a distance. Keep in mind that if you choose an online agent, you’ll likely have to do more work such as organising the viewings.

Prepare questions

Asking questions is vital when choosing an agent as you’ll need as much information as possible. Prepare a list in advance and don’t be afraid to ask about anything you’re unsure of. Specifically, you should ask questions concerning their fees, contract type, tie-in period and experience - specifically, ask what similar properties in your area have recently been sold by their company, how long the sales took and how the sale price for each property compared to the original asking price.

Read the contract carefully

Before signing the contract, read through it thoroughly. You have to ensure that you completely understand what type of contract you’re agreeing to, what fees are included and what the length of the agreement is - many sellers want to avoid being ‘tied in’ to one agent for more than, say, 12 weeks. Some contract types will allow you to use more than one agent and so it’s vital you understand the terms and agreements included.

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2. Research Sold Prices in Your Area

Obviously, you’ll want to get the best price possible for your property, but it’s also important to be realistic with your asking price. Depending on the state of the housing market and how the property has aged over time, it’s not always possible to set the asking price at the amount you previously paid for it. You will need to gauge how much your house is now worth in order so you can set a realistic asking price. 

To help you price your property, you could:

Get your property valued

You could have the house valued by a property surveyor, an estate agent or even multiple agents. However, when using an estate agent, keep in mind that they will also be looking to secure your business and so they may offer a more appealing price and lower it when there’s less interest. 

Use property listing websites as a guide

Take a look online at the homes for sale in your local area. Look at properties that are similar to yours and are close to where your house is located. The sold prices will give you a basic estimate and a good price to start with. 

3. Declutter Rooms

Something that will also help you when moving day comes along, is to declutter your property. The purpose is to help potential buyers imagine the property as they would want it - not as you have it.

From the KonMari method to Project 333, there are a number of popular ways that can help you tackle the monster that is decluttering. If you struggle to get started, research these methods and find the one that’s right for you as it can be difficult to part ways with certain items without a little help. 

Clean as you go along and try to avoid clunky and awkward furniture when staging your property. The whole point of decluttering is to make your property inviting and organised, encouraging viewings and prospective buyers. 

Here are a few of our top decluttering tips to help you through the process:

Start early 

The earlier you start, the less stressful it is to get done. You’ll already need to clean your home before you move anyway, so decluttering at the start of the selling process provides you with a longer deadline and much more organised house. 

Be ruthless 

Don’t start decluttering if you’re not in the right mindset. You need to be ruthless with your decisions otherwise you’ll end with the same number of items you started with. Think about what you no longer need, then continue through to the items you’re unsure about keeping. 

Tackle it room by room 

Everything is easier when you break it down into easy steps. The same goes for decluttering your home. Complete the process room by room and take breaks in between. It helps to make it seem a lot less overwhelming.

Consider Storage 

If you want to keep more items than you consider sensible to display during the sales process, put the remaining items in storage until you move into your own new home.

4. Paint, Fix and Clean

Now that you’ve decluttered and there are fewer items in the house, clean and make the property more presentable. Wipe down surfaces, vacuum every room and ensure the house is fresh and organised for your buyers. 

You’ll want to stage the house for any future viewings your estate agent will book. 

This means that you should de-personalise each room and ensure it can attract a variety of tastes and preferences. The buyer has to be able to imagine their lives in this home so keep everything neutral and remove personalised items. 

Here are a few top tips for when you’re cleaning and updating your property for sale:

Use neutral colours

By painting the rooms in neutral colours, you’re not only giving potential buyers a clean slate to work with, but you’re also improving the look of the property in general. 

Fix any minor repairs

You don’t have to go all-out or spend too much money to fix minor repairs. If there are holes in the wall, squeaking doors, cracked tiles or broken handles, take the extra time to improve these minor details. 

Don’t forget the garden

Remove weeds, clean the patio and furniture, and mow the lawn; remember also to repaint front railings and polish ‘front door furniture’ like the letterbox. Consider a hanging basket at the front. These all give good first impressions to buyers who will then feel good about your property before even stepping inside.

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5. Define the Key Rooms in Your House

The most important part of preparing your home is allowing prospective buyers to imagine themselves living in the property. Each room needs to be cleaned, organised and shown off to highlight it’s purpose. For example:

Kitchen

This is often viewed as the heart of a home. De-grease and polish the oven and stove and highlight the most modern features. You could paint over any tired-looking cupboards and replace shabby handles. A tasteful bowl of fresh fruit and some flowers will help too.  

Living Room

If your living room is full of exercise equipment, kids’ toys or work documents, clear everything out and focus on its original purpose. The living room should be seen as a place of relaxation and somewhere to socialise and invite guests. De-personalise it to allow buyers to see the potential.  

Bathroom

Add mirrors to the bathroom to increase the impact of natural light and create a feeling of more space. Add a few neatly folded towels and stage the area appropriately. Again, flowers provide little splashes of colour. 

6. Create a Light, Airy and Welcoming Feel

Make your property feel light and welcoming for all prospective buyers - somewhere they can feel safe and comfortable in. 

Add flowers 

Flowers add colour that won’t permanently affect the neutral tones of the room, as well as a sweet smell. Cacti and succulents can also add life to a room. 

Consider the smell 

Bad smells can discourage potential buyers and so it’s vital you think about this when preparing your home. If you have pets, think about where they’ve been. If you’re a smoker, you can use bowls of vinegar to dispel the stale, nicotine smell. Unclog any drains, wash out your bins and to open all windows.  

Light a fire 

If you have a working fireplace, use it, especially during winter viewings. It can add a soft, reassuring glow and a warm, cosy atmosphere that encourages a homely feel. You could even burn pine cones beforehand to add a beautiful smell. 

Make use of mirrors 

Mirrors can make a room look bigger and emphasise natural light; place them in smaller or dim rooms and hallways for maximum impact.  

Clean your windows 

This can help make any room feel light and airy. If the natural light isn’t enough, change the light-bulbs for added warmth. 

7. Increase Your Property’s Kerb Appeal

You don’t want to discourage potential buyers before they even step foot into the property and so it’s important to think about your home’s kerb appeal. The exterior will be the first impression and so you want buyers to feel impressed before they even reach the front door.

Freshen up your fence and door with a new coat of paint, hide bins, organise your front garden and add hanging baskets for extra colour.   

A study by the HomeOwners Alliance in 2019 discovered that 68% of home buyers think kerb appeal is important when buying a house. They found that the top 3 most important kerb appeal features were the windows, roof and front garden. To help you improve your exterior, we’ve added a few tips to help you improve these features on your property:

Windows

Make sure your windows are clean and in good condition. Dress them up with new curtains and give them a good scrub before any viewings are booked. If they need a more drastic change, you may have to replace them altogether. However, a simple lick of paint could do the trick if you don’t want the added expense of new windows. 

Roof

The roof can often be expensive to repair but it is vital that it’s in good condition. Repair missing, loose or cracked tiles and focus on the more obvious issues that need repairing. It would also be wise to clean out the guttering too. 

Front garden

Cut and clear any overgrown hedges or foliage and remove any weeds that have started to grow. If you have any children or pets, put away their toys and ensure the area is a lot more organised. You could add a few brightly coloured hanging baskets to make it more inviting and maybe even some bedding flowers if you have the time.

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8. Prepare and Plan for Viewings

When preparing your property for viewings, do more than a quick clean. Make sure your house looks spacious and inviting and stick to neutral tones if decorating.  

Here are a few other factors to consider when preparing for property viewings:

Ensure the house is empty of people

You’ll want the viewers to be able to wander around freely during the viewings and so you’ll want the property to be as empty as possible. You could join the viewing if you want to be available to answer any questions, but don’t follow them around constantly or make them feel uncomfortable. Ideally, there should only be the viewer, you and the estate agent. Don’t clutter the property with people. 

Think about your pets

Pets should not be at home during viewings. Some people do not like animals or may be allergic to them. Pass them to a friend, family member or kennel, or confine them to one room or the garden.

Highlight broadband and other features

If you’ve already chosen a reliable estate agent, they will already be aware of the property’s best features, but it doesn’t hurt to think of a few yourself. Broadband speed, for example, is highly important in these modern times and so it could be a good idea to highlight this to encourage buyers.  For further tips, you can view our House Viewing Checklist to better understand the mind of your prospective buyers and to discover what features they’ll be looking for.

9. Shortlist the Best Buyers

Once you’ve received a few offers, it’s time to choose a buyer. To ensure the transaction doesn’t fall through, you should try choosing the most reliable buyer and, if possible, try asking them questions. 

Don’t be afraid to reject offers if they are unsuitable, but remember to be realistic with your asking price. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to accept the first offer you receive, you can allow yourself a little extra time to think your decision through. 

Before you decide to accept an offer, take the time to consider these factors:

Is the buyer in another property chain?

Not all prospective buyers will be at the stage where they’re ready to move in once the transaction is complete. If they’re waiting for their house to sell first or are reliant on another property chain to succeed, there’s the risk of it delaying yours. 

If a chain consists of a seller using an online agent, there could be further delays - online agents rarely have staff to ‘progress’ sales by chasing up conveyancers or local councils for key information; therefore a part of a chain involving an online agent is usually slower than parts of the chain using high street agents. 

First-time buyers are often the most popular choice when it comes to selling property. As they aren’t reliant on any other transactions, there’s less risk of the process being delayed or collapsing altogether. 

What is their financial position?

Does the buyer already have a mortgage or mortgage in principle in place? If so, that decreases the waiting time and reassures you that they can afford the property. According to research by Market Financial Solutions, 34% of buyers pulled out of a sale due to them or someone in the chain not having a mortgage approved in time and so it’s worth asking before you accept their offer. 

Can you wait for more offers to come in?

Don’t forget to factor in your own personal circumstances when accepting an offer. If you have the time to wait, you may want to keep the property on the market until you receive an offer closest to what you want. If you want a quick house sale, then consider the buyers not in a property chain as this can greatly decrease the time the transaction will take. If you want to keep a particularly good buyer, consider moving out and renting for a short while to keep the transaction on track.

Find out more on the best time to sell your home here.

10. Consider Alternatives if the House Doesn’t Sell

Although disheartening, it’s important to know that a sale is never guaranteed and so being prepared can help you continue with your next steps if your property fails to sell. 

There are alternatives if your house doesn't sell, but you may want to consider what you can do to improve your property first. You could ask your estate agent to update the online marketing, rethink the asking price, further improve it’s kerb appeal or simply give the building a good deep clean.

However, if these fail to work, here are a few alternatives to consider:

Switch estate agents

If you still want to try selling your home, consider switching estate agents to find the right one for you. Not all contracts will allow you to use multiple agencies and so, in a few cases, you may have to cancel your contract with them and pay a fee. However, if you shop around first and ask the right questions, you may end up finding an alternative agent who is more qualified to sell a property like yours. 

Put your home up for auction

If selling your home through the traditional route doesn’t succeed, you could try putting your property up for auction. A common form of auction is through sealed bidding, or you could try the ‘traditional sale-room’ way where buyers bid in person or via a live link. You could also conduct an auction online through an estate agent or specialist online auction company

Rent out the property instead

If you’re finding it too difficult to sell and want to find another option completely, you could instead rent out your home to tenants. You will need to take out a let-to-buy mortgage if you're also buying a new home. This decision shouldn’t be taken lightly, however, as you’ll need to research the roles and responsibilities of becoming a landlord as well as how to pay Capital Gains Tax

Saving Time and Money When You Sell

Another helpful tip to save both time and money when selling your home is to shop around and compare quotes to help you find the best professionals for the job. Compare My Move can contact you with verified conveyancers, surveyors and removal companies in your local area with just one simple form. 

Rest assured, our strict verification process ensures that every partner who enters our network is reliable, experienced and highly-skilled within their industry. It only takes a few details and a couple of seconds and you could save up to 70% on the cost of your removal!

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.