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How to sell your house

You don’t need us to tell you how daunting the idea of selling your house can be. But it really doesn’t have to be that bad! Here we break down the steps to selling a house.

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We’re going to break the steps to moving house for you here, so you know exactly what to expect. We’ll cover everything (big and small) from different types of valuations, to energy performance certificates, to the question of “to redecorate or not”...and beyond.

Step 1 - Sorting out your finances

Your first financial priority will be thinking about your current mortgage (if you have one. If not skip ahead smugly).

First and foremost, check the terms of your mortgage. Remember, you may have to pay a fee for moving house. There are a couple of options in terms of dealing with your current mortgage deal...

a) Should you take your mortgage with you to your new property? This is known as “porting” your mortgage. If you’re on the introductory rate of your mortgage, it will most likely be “portable”. Even if it is possible to transfer the mortgage to your new place, you’ll still have to go through some credit checks and affordability checks with your lender. If your new property is more expensive than your current one, you’ll probably need to borrow more money. Some options for this situation include either porting your existing mortgage and increasing it OR porting your current mortgage and then taking out an extra loan on top.

b) OR…Will you pay off the existing mortgage and take out a new one (if you need it) on your new home? Some mortgages aren’t portable, so you’ll need to use your earnings on the house to pay off your old mortgage, then arrange a new one. Look through the documents you were given or speak to your mortgage advisor. 

If you cannot port your mortgage and therefore have to pay it off, you may incur some fees for paying off the mortgage too early - this is known as an early remortgage charge. This may seem confusing, but it’s basically a kind of apology to the lender - “sorry, we know you thought you’d make more money from us than this, but here’s a compensatory sum of money in exchange.” The amount charged is usually between about 1%-5%, so you’ll have to factor in these charges when deciding whether to move. Here are some examples of early repayment charges, based on £280,800 mortgage (because the average house price in 2022 in the UK was £312k, minus an estimated 10% deposit): 

  • A 1% repayment charge on a £280,800 mortgage would be £2,808

  • A 3% repayment charge on a £280,800 mortgage would be £8,424

  • A 5% repayment charge on a £280,000 mortgage would be £14,040

So, as you can see this isn’t a cheap decision. The repayment fee isn’t to be taken lightly, especially on a very large mortgage as the charge could be very hefty.

Step 2 - Getting your house valued

For a rough estimation of your valuation, you’ll want to start with an online valuation. This is a quick and easy way to get an indication of what you could expect to get for your property on the market. Remember: it’s just an estimate, and doesn’t take into account things like the individual qualities of your home (off street parking that you may have added or an extension etc.). Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, you’ll need to get a full valuation by an estate agent. If you're ready for that then you can book a property valuation with Strike here, for free of course.

Step 3 - Deciding to move and finding your new place

So you’ve sorted your mortgage, looked through your finances and decided it’s a good time to relocate? Great stuff. Unless you’re planning on moving in with someone like a parent, partner or friend, you’ll need to think about your next move. There are a few options here. Mainly you’ll need to think about whether you’re going to buy your next property, or you’re going to rent. Here are the basic options:

a) Selling your house and buying a new one

If you want to continue to be a homeowner, then you’ll want to buy somewhere that aligns with you selling your home, meaning you can move from one to another. This is what people mean when they’re talking about a “chain”. If you’re moving somewhere that is “chain free” it means their selling the house to you is not contingent on them buying their next one. Buying within a chain means the opposite, you’re selling your house and buying a new one from someone else, who may also be buying a new house, the owner of which may also be buying a new house and so on and so on. A chain free purchase is more low-risk because you’re not worried about someone along the chain having something go wrong and therefore affecting your purchase. The advantage of moving into your new house straight away is that it all happens in one go - you won’t have to have extra costs of things like two lots of movers or storage units etc. You can also use the same solicitor and conveyancer for both selling and buying, which is easier and possibly quicker.

b) Move out and look to buy in the future

You may be ready to sell and have the perfect buyer lined up, but you’re not quite ready to buy. Maybe you’ve found the place but the sellers are being held up somewhere along their chain, or maybe you want to wait until you get your Christmas bonus so you have a little more cash for your deposit. Whatever the reason, selling your house chain-free can make you look quite appealing, as prospective buyers know they won’t be held up waiting for you to move out.  It can also be advantageous if you’re relocating - it’s sensible to rent before buying to familiarise yourself with the area. Is the commute easy enough to work? Do you like the neighbourhood? Renting before you buy gives you more knowledge, and can feel more empowering. 

If you are looking to rent, remember to factor in extra costs. The cost of rent, plus using solicitors and conveyancers in two instances, storage units and moving fees etc. can really add up. Don’t push it out of your mind and hope it’ll be ok! Get out the calculator. Or even better, use our cost of moving calculator to make the most informed choice, not only about the cost of renting but also about the cost of things like agency fees, removals and other big costs.

Also, remember that the housing market is constantly changing. You may sell when the market is weak and then when you decide to buy, find it to be strong. I.e. you’ve sold low and are buying high - SOS! Think about these risk factors when making your decision. 

Step 4 - Maximising your sale price

There are several ways you can increase the value of your house. That’s always a good thing as you’ll have more pocket money to spend on your next move. Some of these things include:

a) Redecorating

Redecorating can either mean a major overhaul of the space, or a few touch ups which freshen the space and make it more appealing to buyers. For a more detailed rundown of adding value to your property, check out our page on it here:

b) Paying to extend your lease

If your property is a leasehold (as opposed to a freehold) you may be able to get more money for it if you extend the lease as long leases are more attractive to buyers. Though it’s not a cheap thing to do, Incurring the costs of extending the lease may mean you get more money in the long run. Remember that if the lease dips below 80 years, the cost will probably be larger. 

Step 5 - Taking your house to market. Decisions, decisions…

You could choose to sell your house privately…

You could sell the property yourself, meaning that you wouldn’t use an estate agent. Whilst this is the cheapest option, it is also the most labour intensive. So, think about whether you’d need to take time off work to do this, or whether it will be majorly stressful? If it will take a lot of your time and energy, is it really worth the money you’d be holding onto?  Also, remember if you’re a private seller you can’t advertise on Rightmove, Zoopla or PrimeLocation. You can use local newspapers or online marketplaces and social media to advertise your property instead, but the traffic to your property isn’t as guaranteed as it would be if you put it on Strike (for example).

Or you could use a traditional/high street estate agent

If you don’t like the sound of the DIY option, then you’ll be thinking about using an estate agent. This will either be an online estate agent or a traditional/high street estate agent. People opt for a traditional agent if they like the idea of a physical office and a recognisable name on their sale. But it’s worth noting that a high street agent will usually be more expensive than an online agent, as their overheads are more. If you’re interested in using a high street agent, think about asking them if you will be featured in their window display, and for how long? And which platforms are they planning to use to advertise the house? More people still choose to sell their house with traditional estate agents, but this doesn’t mean that it’s cheaper, easier or will get you a better price; in fact, research shows the opposite!

Or go with an online agent

Here at Strike we obviously believe that you should go with an online agent for many reasons, namely because it’s cheaper and gives you more control over the sale itself. Whilst there are lots of good options, our USP is that we don’t charge commission. This means you could sell your house with us totally free of charge, or opt-in to some paid-for add-ons. Online estate agents can often move more quickly than traditional ones, using better data and online resources to ensure your home is viewed by as many people as possible. Whichever way you go, it’s worth doing your research. What will be most cost-effective and get you the best sale for your area? What suits you in terms of a payment plan? Who has the best local knowledge? Do your homework!  So, you’re choosing between either paying a percentage of the final house price or paying a lump sum upfront? Well here’s a wacky thought…what about paying nothing? That’s right, our agency fee is £0. What we do charge for is the extras, which include hosted viewings, professional photos, premium listings, and other optional additions. None of this is compulsory though, so you have the option to sell your house with us online, totally free of charge.

Our USP is that we don’t charge commission. This means you could sell your house with us totally free of charge, or opt-in to some paid-for add-ons."

Step 6 - Marketing and viewings

This process tends to take between 1 and 14 weeks. You’ll want your property to be viewed by as many people as possible, in order to ensure that you get a broad scope of potential buyers. 

You’ll also want to ensure that you have really brilliant photos. You can either have these professionally done (which does tend to lead to better sales results), or you can follow our helpful guide to taking great photos of your house.

Once the property is online, we hope it conjures up some buzz and you get lots of viewings and (fingers crossed!) offers. The quicker this happens the better, not only because it’s a weight off your shoulders, but also because houses lose value the longer they sit unsold on the market.

Don’t have the time or energy to host your own viewings? We can handle that for you here at Strike (most agents offer hosted viewings as part of their standard service, but they charge everyone lots more via commission).

Here at Strike, we think nobody knows your property better than you do so you're best to host viewings with buyers. But for those without the time or inclination, we offer a hosted viewings package.

Step 7 - After you accept an offer

You’ve got an offer you're happy with! Hooray! Now you’re entering the sales process. So, what is the sales progression process? It’s basically just a fancy term for all the nitty gritty goings on that happen in between the offer and the exchange of paperwork between seller and buyer (known as “exchanging”). For this you’ll need some grownups to step in, otherwise known as solicitors or conveyancers (one or the other, as they do the same job for you). These grownups will sort out the paperwork and contracts, including council searches, making sure your sale is recorded on the Land Registry, and dealing with the actual exchange of money. Your estate agent can recommend you a solicitor and conveyancer, but you are also welcome to find your own. 

Remember that this doesn’t come for free. Don’t forget to factor in legal costs when planning your move! Use our cost of moving calculator to look into what these people can cost you.

Step 8 - The actual move

Congratulations! You’ve gone from offer, to exchange, to completion (which means the keys are ready to hand over). Before this last step happens, you’ll need to organise the move itself. Are you going to do a DIY job, bribing friends that own big cars? Or have you budgeted for professional movers? The latter option will likely cost you between £250 and £4,000 range (plus VAT) depending on the size of your current and next home, the number of stairs, plus how far away the properties are.

So whilst we know it can feel overwhelming, selling your house doesn’t need to make you pull your hair out! Follow this roadmap and watch as things seamlessly slip into place; you’ll likely have a few setbacks on the way, but that’s normal. Just make sure you’ve set aside some money for unexpected obstacles, and do your research before you embark on a sale so you know which estate agent is the best fit for you.