Would the First Time Sellers….. Please stand up!

Move over first time buyers, you’ve had the lime light for far too long… now its the “First Time Sellers” turn!

With ample tips and tricks for first time buyers, even seminars and free (yes, thats not a typo… FREE) advice workshops available, first time sellers do not have the same prelividges as first time buyers, but are still trying to navigate the property mine field & this time with even more to loose… £1000’s of THEIR investment!

I spoke with a 71yr old lady recently who is earning her “First Time Seller” Brownie Badge this year, having never moved house & still living in the home she was born in, married in and lost her husband in… and she’s not alone. As an ex-first time buyer and a soon to be first time seller, Its occurred to me that the help available for newbies is somewhat limited.

So, as many have done before me, I asked the fountain of all knowledge…no, not Google… Dad. Over Sunday lunch (which is usually when I slip in asking for DIY help which turns into a 4month renovation project & a rather hefty ‘loan’ which may, or may not, ever be paid back) I dropped the bombshell… “So Dad, How do I actually sell a house?!”

Here was his response after choking on a roast potato: “You kidding? You’re not ready to sell your house…!”


Step 1. Be Ready to Sell a house!

This to me is apparently easier than my Dad seems to think it will be. Okay, Okay, I have a touch of DIY to do ( and Plastering/Plumbing/Rewiring/Damp) … but thats a doddle right?

To be ready to sell your home (and to get the best value for it) it must be ready for your viewers to imagine themselves living there;

Task: Go outside and walk away from your home, take a coat, it may be cold out. As you walk back look at your property, come back with fresh eyes: how does the front garden look? how are your window baskets? what does the front of your property look like? Are there bins laying around? Fag butts round the front door?

You never know when a potential buyer will drive or walk by… so your home must be on its best behaviour at all times!

When you open your front door: what feeling does your house give you? Does it look clean/tiny/well decorated? does it have pealing paint, bubbled wall paper or poor lighting? Have you had a new kitchen?

If you walk into your home and can honestly say “I’d buy this place!”, then others will too, but be sure to scrutinise the little things that is wrong with the property as savvy buyers will use anything they can to knock you down on the sale price, which of course eats in to the available deposit you have for your next home.

Be aware – if you’re redecorating or ‘tarting up’ your home for sale – make sure that you do so with money in mind as you do not want to outweigh your recoupable gain.

  • Completely redecorating adds around: £3,000
  • Re-carpeting/flooring adds on average: £2,000
  • New Kitchen adds on average: £4,751


Also, be aware of the costs coming your way: EPC certificate (£70), Estate Agent Fees (average of 1.8% +VAT), Conveyancer Fees (Variable!), Current Lender Fees & Admin fees for changing over or repaying your mortgage  (non-negotiable), Removal Costs, Survey Costs: Condition Report (£150-£300), Homebuyers Report (£350 – £500), Buildings Survey (£500-£700).

When you have a breakdown of all the costs & your home has had more tarting done than a Mr Kiplin Bakewell.. you’re ready to make the jump onto Step 2… Congratulations!


Step 2. Research the Estate Agent for you… and choose one!

Before working in the industry, I believed all Estate Agents were much of the sameness  and really just charged different amounts depending on how well known they are, then it just depended which Agent happened to win the instruction. More the fool me (and you, if you think that!)

However after looking at homes to buy & actually buying a house in South London (the Estate Agent’s name will remain anonymous), I realised that not all agents work in the same way or, put the same amount into their potenional buyers / sales. This, I will write a whole long and very exciting post on… but for now, let me just tell you, comparing Estate Agents is vital!

Now, I am not pushing www.GetAgent.co.uk because I work with them*, but because what they offer is very clever! Scanning property sales data of all the Estate Agents within your postcode – they whittle down to the Top 6 Estate Agents, telling you WHY to choose each agent;

Ask yourself, whats important to you & your house sale?

  1. A honesty valuation which is achievable
  2. A quick sale
  3. Having an agent who knows how to sell
  4. a reasonable Estate Agent fee

Previously – many people would choose an agent based on their Fee but with the added statistics GetAgent’s comparison tool shows you, you can make an educated decision on whats important to you; % of asking price each Agent achieves, Number of sales they have had in the past 6 months, Average time taken to sell & the Estate Agent quotes.

It also gives you a handy tool to show you what properties each EA has sold / listed.. & for how much without having to dig through Zoopla or Rightmoves archived sales.

Make sure you meet with the Agent that will be selling your property – Do you like them? whats your gut feeling about them as an Agent? Are they contactable? First impressions count so make sure you’re happy with the agent you choose.

Be aware: Consider the contract your Estate Agent wants you to sign. There are different types of contracts: Sole Selling, Sole Agency & Multi Agency. Be sure you are selecting the right one for you & that you are happy with the terms.

Once you’ve instructed an agent, do not be foolish and just wait for the viewings to happen & offers to roll in. Take the jump to Step 3.

In true BBC style: * Other comparison sites are available


Step 3. Get your legal legs on

You’re not a first time buyer anymore. You do not need to wait to instruct a conveyancer/solicitor, so don’t delay in picking one!

Selling your property is a process packed full of legalities and formalities – a lot more than buying your first house. With this in mind get all your ducks in a row now, and it’ll save you time later. Luckily, most of the documents you’ll need for your sale are pretty standard so you can source and prepare them ahead of time.

  1. Your title deeds – this is legal proof of ownership can be acquired by contacting Land Registry.
  2. Gas & Electrical Safety Inspection Certificates – British Gas, Scottish Power & other providers can help you out here. Request an assessor visit and they will provide you with the certificates.
  3. Planning Permissions – have you gained planning permission? if so, get these documents ready to go!
  4. Running Costs – Put together a pack of Deeds of Council Tax, Buildings Insurance, Contents Insurance, Energy Bills & Water bills. This gives buyers estimates of running costs
  5. Mortgage Details – obtaining a rundown on what is outstanding & details of loans and charges associated with your property is important to have to hand.

Getting your head around all the paperwork early on prevents stress and worry later on… Giving you time to search for your next dream home.


Step 4. Look up hints and tips for successful Viewings

From Dressing your home for sale day to how make your home look expensive – tips on how to make your home more appealing to those buyers is a must!

We all know that we should brew coffee and be bread baking connoisseurs… but think outside of the box a little… for instance did you know Green sells? Nope… nor did I! Before you go paining your hallway a sickly green (yuck!), its green plants that promote sales & tranquility, especially to female buyers… whom we all know are the real decision makers!


Step 5. Know where your limits are.. and stick to them.

  1. How quickly do you need to sell your property? Are you happy to wait?
  2. What is the lowest you would be happy to accept for your property?
  3. What are you happy, or unhappy, to leave at the house to sweeten the deal?
  4. What are you able to afford for a conveyancer?
  5. What timelines and deadlines do you have?

Sticking to your guns will help you stay sane throughout a house sale (and purchase!) so knowing where your limits are & expressing them to the relative party is important.



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