First Step’s helpful guide to selling your home and moving… With a handy check list at the end
So, you have decided to sell your property and move on for whatever reason… this could be for more room, less room, schools, shops, the dreaded commute or maybe you have fallen out of love with your property.
What is true for everyone in your position is that you now have some big decisions to make, all of which can affect the move.
There is a long procession of links in the chain of events to get you to your end result – your new home!
We hope our guide will help you every step of the way.
It is rumoured that planning a holiday and moving home are THE two most stressful things that can happen in your life.
Both usually involve agents at some level, organisation, transport and often, kids, pets, cars, vans and taxi’s but mainly lots of your hard-earned cash.
Unfortunately moving home also involves solicitors and often removal men and a lot less Beaujolais than your average holiday.
We thought you could benefit from some of our experience and expertise with our Moving Guide and hope it is of use to you.
Selecting your Estate Agent
Unfortunately, not all estate agents are created equally, and it helps to have a strategy for finding the estate agent that will put you and your interests first. Here are a few things you can do to help find an estate agent you can trust.
It is always important to research what other people think of the service they have received when buying or selling their home click here to see The First Step testimonial page.
2. Check out an estate agent’s social media accounts – social media is a free form of advertising, so why aren’t all estate agents using it? Social media is a very public forum and those estate agents with poor reputations do not want to risk having it exposed. Estate agents who are honest about their services and want to show that they are approachable, knowledgeable and available have embraced social media. First Step have active Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts and often post relevant news and local event posts.
3. Get Surfing – Using the internet is a great way to comparison shop at arm’s length. Not only can you look at an agent’s social media, you can check out their On The Market, Rightmove, Zoopla & Prime Location listings as well as their own website. You can get a feel for the quality of their photography and marketing which will demonstrate their commitment to wanting to sell your property.
4. Mind the GAP – Grammar and Photography at First Step. We are very proud of our photography and our property descriptions, we take time to deliver a carefully considered and informative write up that contains simple phrases and descriptive information regarding location, history and local points of interest, this coupled with good photography will always show a property in its best light.
5. Looking them in the eye. In the end, nothing beats meeting an agent face to face. That is why we offer free, no obligation valuations. We realise that sometimes your choice of estate agent comes down to who you feel comfortable with (we are not the usual bad fitting striped suit type of people). Plain and simple. The choice is yours. Come and meet us… or we can come and meet you at a time that suits.
6. Do viewings with the agent – lots of our new clients instruct us once they have viewed properties with us. They are so impressed by our knowledge, experience and honest approach, that they want buyers of their home to have the same professional and enjoyable experience.
We are aware that the high street estate agents with high rent offices have to charge high rates. We believe that due to the modern way of living, where time is of the essence and shopping of all sorts, including buying a new home, is now done over the internet. Within the next few years these shops will start to disappear too. Our success is testimony to this, operating from our modern high-tech offices located in a rural picturesque location, we continue to prove that we can very effectively sell property online and pass our cost savings onto you.
So, yes, we market and advertise houses via the internet but in the proven traditional way we carry out all viewings with one of our professional team and meet all purchasers at the property. We work Monday to Sunday, because this is a very big part of what you are paying us for. This full service is where we are leaders in what we do and using our property skills and expertise in front of prospective purchasers we can ensure we achieve what you want…the best price and the best buyer for your property!
Not as important to some people but it is for us – we like to give back to our local community as we are very fortunate that with the hard work we put into each sale, we get lots of testimonials thanking us. With word of mouth we have grown from strength to strength. To this end we heavily sponsor lots of our local groups such as the youth clubs, sports centre, bowls clubs, kids football teams, pre-schools, Junior Schools and one of our biggest local education centres Etonbury Academy.
Prepare for Market
- Deep cleaning your house can really add to your home’s appeal, as well as enhance the buyer’s first impressions. Give your home a top to bottom clean. Make sure windows are washed to let in light and carpets and flooring are deep cleaned.
- Consider renting a steam cleaner for your carpets particularly if you have pets. It will help to make your home smell and look fresher, giving the impression of a very well-kept home. It’s always a good idea to give your front door a good clean or even a coat of paint, first impressions really do matter. It indicates that your home has always been well maintained.
- Declutter. Less is more when it comes to selling your home. Store personal items and pack up everything that isn’t essential. If you find you have things you don’t need anymore, consider recycling them.
- Contact your local council, who may be able to collect large items for you. Not only will the lack of clutter help to sell your home faster, but it will also make moving day easier.
- DIY. If there are any areas in your home that need attention it is best to get them fixed before we start showing your home to potential buyers. These could be the smallest of jobs, such as replacing a light bulb. We have a cost-effective Property Services Team who can fix, paint or sort your home and garden out, just let us know if you would like to contact them.
- To Paint or not to Paint. If your budget allows it, then do it. A fresh coat of paint can make a room look brand new. Try to stick to light neutral colours like whites, greys or creams and stay away from darker colours such as blacks and browns or very bright colours. If money is tight then maybe freshen up your showcase rooms, entrance hallway, kitchen or master bedroom. Again, our Property Service Team can always quote for you.
- Nasty Niffs. Flowers and coffee smell nice, but your old trainers don’t, so keep them hidden… a bit of mood music “turned down” won’t hurt and a light spray of air freshener before the viewing will always help. Always ensure the toilet has been flushed and the lid is down.
- Undertaking major renovations?? You might be considering a complete kitchen renovation or upgrading a bathroom to add value to your home before you put it on the market. However, it might be that you won’t see enough return on your investment to make major renovations worthwhile. This is where our knowledge is extremely helpful. At your valuation we can tell you what buyers in your area are actively looking for and what they are willing to pay for your home, give or take a few pounds. Sometimes ripping down walls and replacing bathroom suites might not add as much value to your home as you may think or maybe your buyer will have plans of their own that may be different to yours. Sometimes a vase of fresh flowers can be just as effective at a fraction of the cost.
Here are a checklist of documents to collect to help your sale go smoothly:
Building Regulations Certificates – If alterations and extensions have been carried out on your property, it will help your sale to proceed more smoothly if you can show at the outset that these have been added legally and with approval.
Service Charges and Ground Rent Bills – If you are selling an apartment and/or have communal parking areas where you pay a fee for the upkeep of the parking area, gates, outside lights etc please make sure you have the correct current costs.
(EPC) – An Energy Performance Certificate – An EPC gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and it is valid for 10 years. If your property has been built or bought after August 2007 then it should already have an EPC, you can visit www.epcregister.com to search to see if your EPC is still valid.
If it doesn’t exist, then we can arrange to have an EPC produced for you for approximately £60 including VAT. Contact First Step for more details. If you are selling with us, we will cover the cost of your EPC.
Under the Money Laundering Regulations 2003 estate agents are obliged to obtain evidence of your identity and residence. You will need to provide original copies of one document from List A and one document from List B to your Estate Agent.
List A – Evidence of Identity – One of;
Full Valid Passport
Full Driving Licence
A Valid Identity Card (HM Forces, Police warrant card, prison officer, Government/ Local Authority issued)
Birth Certificate/Marriage Certificate
List B – Evidence of Residence – One of;
Inland Revenue tax notification, self-assessment statement. An original utility bill less than three months’ old
An original mortgage statement for the mortgage accounting year just ended.
An original statement for either your current bank or building society account or credit card account.
Also handy are copies of recent bills which are ideal so that potential buyers can estimate running costs.
They could include:
Council Tax Bill for Banding
Utility bills, optional
Buildings and Contents Insurance Bills, optional
Service Charges and Ground Rent Bills – this is also optional, but our signed terms will require this exact information for marketing details.
We need to really make your home stand out, the internet is now your shop window, the high street Estate Agents are dying off as fees tumble and the internet replaces the shoe leather in property searches.
90% of people in the UK start their property search online. They say a picture speaks a thousand words and the fact is, that if your property has not been photographed properly it will attract fewer buyers.
When you have decided to put your home on the market with First Step, our trained photographic team will arrive at a prearranged time to help you make sure every room of your home looks its best for photography. We will spend time at your property preparing your home for photographs, but below are a few handy tips.
No one knows your home better than you do, so we would more than welcome your suggestions for the best angles and advice on features of your home that you feel might be the most appealing to buyers.
• Remove any clutter and store it out of sight – for example remove toiletries from around the sink or bath, stow away cleaning products, put small appliances in cupboards, remove or hide anything stored under beds, store children’s toys or pet paraphernalia.
If you want to go the extra mile to make your home stand out from the crowd, try these tips:
- Fresh flowers look attractive in a photograph and will add colour to the photography and can also hide plug sockets or unsightly marks when strategically positioned.
- Freshly plumped cushions on the old sofa and on the bed can add colour and a sense of luxury – they don’t cost much so it might be worth investing in some new ones. An attractive new throw may enhance an old chair or bed.
- Fluffy towels in the bathroom create a fresh and inviting atmosphere.
- If the grouting in your bathroom has seen better days, give it a once over with a grout reviver product, available at DIY shops.
- There are lots of simple things you can do to make your home look good in photographs. You want to make sure the photos of your home do it justice and help the buyer picture themselves living in the space.
- Tuck electrical cords out of the way.
- Make sure all curtains and blinds are open to let in the maximum light.
- Ensure your garden is clutter free – stow away children’s toys, rubbish bins or washing lines.
- Ideally park your car out of the way while exterior shots are taken, if you can’t then make sure it is clean and presentable.
- Move your large bins from outside your home where you can and have a word with your friendly neighbour’s about doing the same for a few minutes’ while we snap away.
If you are not sure what your home really needs to make the best impression on buyers, please ask the First Step professionals. We look at properties day in and day out and we know what buyers are looking for and what makes a particularly good or bad impression.
These small details make a huge difference to a buyer’s viewing experience. It all helps. It is so important to make a viewing memorable and eventful for the right reasons. Where possible…
- Give the front door, access area and driveway a good clean.
- Make sure the locks on the front door are well oiled and working properly and First Step has only the CORRECT keys they need.
- Tidy up, clear away dishes and sweep or vacuum floors. Make sure the garden or outside areas are tidy. If you live near a road or wooded area, clean your railings and fences of cobwebs and dirt.
- Make sure all doors to the outside or balconies/terraces are clear to access and have a key in them, near them or with us.
- Do you have a secure parking space or garage? Buyers may want to see this, even if it is a large rectangular patch of tarmac with a number 28 on it…yes really! So, try and make sure access is readily available.
- If you do have a parking space, maybe try to park your car somewhere else, allowing the viewer and agent to use yours. This will add to the buyer’s experience. Especially when parking is a problem locally.
- Leave pets with your friendly neighbour or family member if possible. Whilst we love pets, not all buyers share that love!
- Turn on heating during the colder months, especially if you have timers. In the winter potential purchasers want to feel how warm your house is, likewise in the Summer they like to look where the best place is in the garden for a BBQ.
- Turn your house lights on beforehand particularly when using energy efficient bulbs as these take time to warm up.
- Air out the house by opening the windows the day before if necessary. Ensure that you have not smoked or cooked anything with a strong smell prior to a viewing.
- Light a scented candle and put a fresh pot of coffee on or plug in an air freshener or even bake some bread, yes, the old tricks work best.
All that Glitters..
All that preparation and no offers – perish the thought! If you’ve been marketing your property for some time and have not yet had any offers, what can you do? First Step will be keeping you up-to-date with regular feedback from viewings and the numbers of people viewing your property. We monitor your listing on property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla. We can advise on click through rates, CTR’s, details downloaded from major websites and give you hard facts based on this data. This should help you to build a picture of what potential viewers are thinking about your property.
Information is power to an agent but also to a vendor, so try not to cherry pick the facts to suit your purposes, are other properties selling locally in less time?
What is important is Marketing, Grammar and Photography, but most importantly with any sale or purchase the price is important. Are you aiming too high?
During your conversations with First Step:
- Ask why they think it isn’t selling, get an opinion. What is the most common objection that the viewers are raising about your property? If the objection is something you could correct, then do it.
- Could the marketing for your property be refreshed? Would a premium listing on one of the property portals help?
- Do you need to reduce the price? Price is a very important factor in marketing, and it is so important to get it right. Using current and relevant financial pricing information we provide you with a marketing price for your property, however sometimes we have curve balls which can suddenly change a market place such as stamp duty changes on buy-to-let properties or Brexit which gave the property market an amount of uncertainty over recent years.
We never provide you with an unrealistic marketing price on your property just to gain your business, most properties bought in our area are by purchasers who require a mortgage so it is very important that the price can be agreed by a mortgage surveyor. We work very closely with local RIC’s (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) surveyors to make sure we understand the latest relevant criteria when valuing properties, this is how we can determine the most saleable price for your property. We strongly believe that surveyors must be challenged on property prices and no property should be undersold.
There is a very old property adage that if something is not selling, having offers made on it or getting viewings the issue is… the Price.
What happens when..
Hoorah! When you receive an offer, or even multiple offers, First Step will advise you and help by negotiating to make sure you get the best deal and the most reliable buyer for your property.
Selling your home is more than just going with the highest offer. You may want to consider the following:
- Is the buyer paying cash? If so, you won’t have to wait for a mortgage approval and there is not the added risk of the property being down-valued. First Step always require proof of funds such as a bank statement or solicitors’ letter to qualify cash offers.
- Is the buyer using a mortgage, the buyer should already have a mortgage agreed in principle? First Step will always verify this mortgage offer through our IFA’s, or the buyer’s mortgage broker or lender. We will also ask for proof of funds for their deposit, like a bank statement.
- Is the buyer in a “chain”? That is, do they have to sell their own property first in order to purchase yours? Chains can lengthen the sales process so first-time buyers, investors or those people who don’t need to sell their own property will be a lower risk. However, if a chain is involved, we always validate all properties involved up and down the chain.
- Can the buyer work to your timescales? Will the buyer move as quickly as you need, or are they prepared to wait for you to find your next home? Part of First Step’s service is to “qualify” the buyer by verifying their financial position and financing as well as finding out about their chain situation and timescales. Armed with all this information you will be in the best position to make the right decision for you.
You’ve accepted an offer
You will need to instruct a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to handle your sale for you.
Here’s how to go about it:
First Step work with a selection of recognised Solicitors and Conveyancers and are happy to pass their details to you under no obligation. First Step will recommend solicitors with whom they have good relationships and who they know will help the sale proceed to completion smoothly.
1. Alternatively you can get quotes from several solicitors. You could ask family or friends whom they have used to get a balanced view.
2. Keep in mind that the cheapest quote is not always your best option. You want to make sure you find a solicitor who will work to your timelines, returns calls and has an excellent customer service record. For instance, some solicitors don’t like email and prefer a nice letter with a stamp and the two-day breather that letters allow, some don’t take calls, some don’t return calls. Make sure you research your chosen sword; your sale may well depend upon it.
3. Be clear with your solicitor when you want the sale to exchange and complete so that they work to your timelines. Not all people appreciate that one of the most crucial jobs an estate agent undertakes on your behalf is “sales progression” – First Step will keep in regular contact with your solicitor to ensure your sale is progressing and continue to give you feedback on the sale of your home through to completion. But it is equally important for you to do that too, as many solicitors prefer to speak with you, their client.
This is a time consuming and often frustrating part of our work. It requires patience and most importantly experience. Knowledge of previous sales and their many twists and turns is invaluable during the process. You will need our support and expertise during this process and very often our experience and our interest in the successful completion of your sale are the crucial ingredients that holds the many parties together throughout the process as you will see by our testimonial pages
The Documents you will need to provide to your solicitor
- Original copies of ID that you provided your estate agent.
- Complete a detailed questionnaire on the property, covering things like who owns the boundaries and whether you have had any disputes with neighbours. You must answer these questions truthfully.
- Answer any further queries or provide any other requested supporting documents as quickly as possible. It is best to hand deliver these documents or alternatively send them by registered post.
- Complete a fixtures and fittings form. There is no law that specifies what fittings should be left in your home and what should be removed. Legally you are not obliged to leave any fixtures and fittings in the house, but you must clarify what will be taken as it could relate to the value of the property; fittings can add up to thousands of pounds in value and will make a big difference to the worth of a property. When we initially list your property, we will ask you what you want to leave and will then ask you to read and approve the marketing property description as we must be very careful not to misrepresent your property.
If you do not provide an inventory upfront, it is generally assumed that fixtures will be left, and fittings will be removed. Below is a list of items that we recommend for each category:
Fixtures: • Light fitments • Boilers and radiators • Built-in wardrobes • Bathroom suites • Kitchen units • Television aerials and satellite dishes • Garden Sheds • Carpets • Integrated Appliances
Fittings: • Paintings and mirrors • Curtains and curtain rails • Free-standing ovens, fridges, dishwashers and washing machines • Beds, sofas, other free-standing items • Lampshades
Exchange of Contracts – Exchange of contracts is the point when signed copies of the contracts are exchanged between the buyer’s solicitor and the seller’s solicitor.
After exchange of contracts the buyer (nor indeed the seller) can pull out of the sale without financial penalty. When you exchange you will also be asked to place a deposit with your solicitor which generally is 10% of your purchase price, please discuss this with your solicitor so you don’t have any last-minute panic attacks, that you don’t have enough deposit.
Completion – The period between exchange of contracts and date for completion varies depending on all parties involved. On occasions this can be done simultaneously (i.e.: on the same day) however there is generally a week’s gap which gives the solicitors the required time to draw down funds from the lenders, as most lenders require 5 working days to ensure monies are in place for completion.
On the day of completion, your solicitor will call First Step to tell them when the buyer’s money has been received and confirm that the keys can be released to the new owner. When you receive your solicitor’s final statement, check it carefully to ensure it is correct and in line with your original agreement. Our fees will be paid by your solicitor from the proceeds of your sale and should be detailed in your solicitor’s final statement – this payment is paid on the day of completion.
Once your home is sold, it is time to pack up and get moving. The process can be stressful but here are some tips to make it go more smoothly.
- Use a professional moving firm; try to avoid moving everything yourself in a rented van. Movers are trained professionals and will do all the work for you. Ask us for our recommendations or ask friends and family what companies they have used in the past.
- Take meter readings (Gas, Electric & Water) on your property the day you move out.
- Ensure that Royal Mail redirects all your post.
- It could be some time before you have internet in your new property; download anything you may need for the new home from the internet before you move or stick it in cloud storage.
- Leave a note of anything important for the new owners. This can include things like alarm codes, manuals for appliances being left behind, where the water and other meters are.
- When you move out, it is best to ensure that you tell everyone about your new address. This will hopefully ensure nothing important goes to the wrong place, and that no one is forgotten.
The checklist, who to tell you are moving:
All Home Bills
Credit Card Companies
Council Tax Department, give them the date you moved out also
Mobile Phone Provider
Royal Mail, arrange redirect
Cable/Satellite and Internet Service Providers
TV/Video Rental Companies TV Licensing
Garden Centre Loyalty Cards
Home delivery / Parcels
National savings and premium bonds
School and Colleges