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Process of selling and buying a house

This Strike guide breaks down the process of buying and selling a property at the same time, so you can sit back and watch it all go right.

Preparing to move

Selling your property at the same time as buying another can feel overwhelming. We’ve got some top tips on how to make sure your buying and selling timelines line up — looking at every part of the process, what order they fall in, and how much time you should budget.

There are a lot of moving parts (literally) when selling and buying simultaneously – and basically double the opportunities for things to go wrong (sorry). But there are also ways to minimise the risks, and maximise the satisfaction. This Strike guide will strip it back for you, with a timeline for both selling and buying that will give you clarity, structure and even some goalposts.

Our biggest tip? Preparation. We all love to imagine you can smoothly sell your house to buyers who are willing to sit back and wait to complete until you’ve found your next dream home — but it doesn’t always work out like that. In reality, being in a chain can be complicated as all the sales are dictated by each other.

For buying and selling:

So what’s the best way to be prepared? Let’s take it step by step.

1) Work out your finances.

It’s time to get your ducks in a row. And by ducks, we mean your money. You’ll want to work out all your finances (including factoring in some hiccups that could happen along the way) to work out exactly what money will be coming and going, and when. Here’s what that looks like:

  • House valuation: Firstly you’ll want to work out how much money you’ll have to play with once your house sells. For a rough guide (whilst you’re still in the fun stage of flicking through the property market and imagining “playing house”) you can use our online valuation tool. In a few clicks you’ll have an estimate of the value of your house. Once you’ve decided that you want to take the selling process to the next stage, you’ll want to get a proper valuation from a real 3D estate agent. You can collect a few different opinions if you like, and then go with the person that feels right. Once you’re satisfied with your valuation, you’ll be able to work out how much equity you have in your current property.  Now you know your equity you’ll have a rough idea of your budget. If you’re looking to get a more expensive home you can talk to your mortgage broker about how much you can borrow. But there are some potential scenarios you’ll want to be mindful of (and leave some money aside for), which could rear their heads later down the line.

What is equity? It’s just the difference between the value of your property and how much you still owe on your mortgage. 

  • Potential rentals: If this happens remember you may have to rent, and/or also pay for storage units to keep your things.

  • Moving costs: Don’t forget about movers. The cost of moving isn’t to be sniffed at, especially if you are moving a long distance away, you are moving to/from a property without easy access, or you have a large amount of belongings or a very large house (as the price will increase).

  • Stamp Duty: Don’t forget that when you’re buying (not selling) you’ll have to pay stamp duty. This can usually be absorbed into your mortgage borrowing, unless you’re paying cash. You could try using a stamp duty calculator to work out how much you’ll need to set aside, so you’re not caught out later on.

For buying:

2) Speak to a mortgage broker.

As we said, your budget will be a mix of your current equity and how much you can borrow (presuming you want to get a mortgage). A mortgage broker is the middleman between you and the mortgage lender. They will sort all the fiddly bits of admin and paperwork, plus make sure you get the best deal that’s available for you.

If you’re moving house and currently already have a mortgage, you may want to port your mortgage – this just means taking your mortgage with you when you move, and then increasing it or taking out an additional mortgage if your new house requires you to borrow more. Even if you do plan to port your mortgage, it can still help to talk to a broker. They'll confirm that this is the best thing for you to do in your specific situation. One thing to remember: if you’re planning on paying off your mortgage and taking out a new one, you may have to pay an early repayment charge. This tends to be about 1-5% of the total mortgage.

For selling:

3) Find an estate agent.

It’s up to you whether you do step 3 or 4 first. Either way, you’ll be needing an estate agent. You can talk to a few agents, shopping around to see who you click with and who gives you an estimated valuation that matches your local research. Here are some questions to ask estate agents when you’re meeting with them, which can help find the best match for you. Even if you don’t go with Strike, we always recommend an online agent — because traditional estate agent fees can quickly add up to thousands and thousands of pounds.  Of course, with Strike you can sell your property totally free of charge, just adding on extras like financial services or movers at a cost if you want to – no strings attached. But it’s always up to you.

For selling:

4) Preparing your house for a sale.

How do you get your home ready to sell? Here are some things to consider. 

  • Redecorating: In order to maximise the appeal of your property, you’ll want to make sure it’s looking spick and span. Imagine that your house is meeting its partner’s parents for the first time – it’s got to make a good first impression.

  • It could be some minor improvements you could make over a weekend, or you might want to consider some larger changes. Bathroom looking a bit more “Spar” than “spa”? Maybe try redoing the lighting to something softer, and do a bit of work on the tiling. Kitchen looking more shabby than shabby-chic? It could be as simple as repainting the cabinet doors, or perhaps replacing the surface tops. Your estate agent can advise you on what’s worth your while here.

  • EPC: You’ll need to find your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before you put the house on the market. This certificate will indicate the energy efficiency of your property, with the most efficient ranking A and the least ranking G. You must be ready to show it to any prospective buyers, who would usually want to see it to get an idea of the cost of running the house, and to gauge how “green” the home is.  You can get your EPC through your estate agent (we can easily arrange one), but you might find that there’s a valid one for your property — they last 10 years. 

  • Collect important documents: When buying or selling a house, there’s a lot of paperwork involved. When you’re doing both? You’ve got to be really on top of it. Being organised and efficient with documentation will save you time in the long run too.  Some examples of these documents include: proof of ID and address and proof of deposit (for buying. And for selling: proof of ID and the title deed for your home. You may also want to check if you have any guarantees of appliances that are within their guarantee period and records of services to the boiler - it doesn't hurt.

For selling:

5) Marketing the property and viewings.

OK, feeling ready to Strike? Let’s get your house on the market. Once you’ve decided to list with us, Strike can have your house live on the market on the same day. Our estate agent fees are nada, zero, zilch all the way through (no loopholes), but we do offer additional add-ons, if you want to use them. We offer hosted viewings, for example, so you don’t have to wait around for prospective buyers.  So, what do you need for your listing? Firstly, you’ll want to get some great photos. We have found that listings with professional photographs sell 50% faster than listings without them, and 39% closer to the asking price. When getting your house out there, you’ll want to have as many eyes on it as possible. Most people start their property searches online, so  platforms like Zoopla and Rightmove, as well as possibly using social media. Listing your property with Strike is a great way to insure a high rate of viewings, in fact we get on average 628 viewings everyday — that’s one every 2 minutes.  Want to make sure your home is looking its best when buyers come to visit? We’ve got a handy guide that can help you get your home ready in a hurry.

For buying:

6) Choose a conveyancing solicitor.

So solicitors might sound boring — but it’s actually when things start to get official, which is very exciting indeed. Your conveyancing solicitor will be the one who supervises the legal transfer of the property from the seller to you. This will involve lots of checks, paperwork, property searches and surveys. You can ask your estate agent for recommendations here, but also feel free to shop around and do some background research before committing to anyone.

For buying:

7) Get a survey.

You’ll likely want to get a survey on your new property, for your own piece of mind, but also for your mortgage lender. This is to make sure that the property is in good enough shape to lend money against. If they find something (e.g. a black mould problem you hadn’t initially noticed) then you can either renegotiate the price, ask the seller to rectify the problem, or pull out all together. There are different levels of surveys, so investigate what type you think you’ll need.

For selling:

8) Agree a sale

In a buyers’ market (meaning there are more prospective buyers on the market than properties) houses tend to get snapped up quite quickly. As a seller, you may receive several appealing offers on your house. You’ll need to decide on who to accept – this will depend on the amount they’re offering, but also they’re situation. For example: Are they in a chain? Or are they a cash-buyer? Many people think cash is king, because you reduce the risk of them having to drop out because the sale of their property hasn’t gone through.

9) Start house hunt.

While there’s no harm in having one eye on Zoopla during the selling process, you don’t want to risk finding your dream home and being in a position where you’re trying to move without a buyer on your current home. But now that you’re well on your way to a sale, it’s time to start the hunt in earnest. You can employ a buying agent to take the reins (plus they might have access to properties which aren’t officially on the market), but don’t be afraid to do some of your own research to see what’s out there. Set alerts for the areas you’re interested in on sites like Rightmove and Zoopla, and get searching early in the morning as you’ll find it to be more fruitful. Some agents are offering virtual viewings now, which is a helpful way of getting a first pass on a property without having to schlep all the way there. 

10) Make an offer.

Once you’ve found the home of your dreams (or realistically the property that is the most practical e.g. close to the kids’ school and has good storage… but dreams are nice too) you’ll want to swoop in with an offer. Get your finances in line, bearing in mind any work that needs doing to the house to make it liveable. The best situation here is your house being “under offer” while you negotiate prices on your next place. One factor you may want to consider is Home Buyers Protection Insurance, which will protect you and your cash if something was to fall through.

11) Offer accepted to exchanging.

You've accepted an offer, hooray! But things aren't official until you've both signed on the dotted line. You might think that happens right away, but this is actually the trickiest time in a home sale — and things could still fall through.  During this period the solicitors will work together, the buyer's solicitor will run any necessary searches and enquiries, and the buyer may opt to have a survey done to make sure the home is sound. (Their lender may also want a valuation survey done to make sure the house is worth what they're lending.) Based on the findings of the surveys, the buyer may want to negotiate the price again — and it's good to keep in mind that they can pull out before contracts are exchanged. The good news? Whether the market is hot or cold, data shows that this part of the process usually takes the same amount of time — about 9 weeks — so it's easy to plan for.

12) Organising your move.

  • Formalise your mortgage: If you’re planning on getting a mortgage on your next place, you will have discussed the details with your broker. They most likely will have offered you a mortgage in principal, which is like a promise to give you a mortgage. This is the time to make real on that promise and get the mortgage ironed out and finalised. 

  • Are you going straight from one place to the next?Budget-wise you’ll need to think about whether you’re to be able to move smoothly from one place to the next (the dream really, especially if you have kids or pets that might be harder to settle into new places) or if the timeline might mean you need to go via a rental property or stay with friends or family. Also account for any storage you’ll need to pay for, whether it’s during the move, or for a more long-term solution to storing your stuff if you’re downsizing. 

  • Movers: Book ‘em. Not much else to say here. Just make sure you’re budgeting for it - especially if you’re moving very far away, if there’s lots to move, or if there are a lot of stairs involved.

13) Exchanging to completing.

Exchanging means the paperwork has been swapped between the buyer and the seller. You’ll be in this process twice, once as the seller and once as the buyer, so you’ll be the expert by the end. You’ll find that the time between exchange and completion can vary, but you can try to tailor it to best work for your timeline. Want to stay put in your current place until the bathroom in the new place has been redone? Ideally you’d have a longer gap between exchange and completion. It’s worth talking to the current owners about that. Your contract will lay out exactly when your completion date is, so you’ll know when to book your moving vans and get skedaddle over to the new place (ideally…although you may be going via a rental place, that’s OK too! As long as you’ve accounted for it in the budget.)

So, while there’s a lot of coming and going, this timeline should help you to have a good sense of when things might happen. For a more prescriptive timeline of the moving process, you can check out this page:x. As usual, reach out if you need guidance or advice about your moving timeline.