A brief guide to selling your home
From Strutt & Parker
At Strutt & Parker, we know that selling your home is a big decision.
With so many financial, legal and practical issues to consider, it’s vital to obtain expert advice and support. This guide provides some valuable insights into the key stages of a property sale, so that the process is as smooth and stress-free as possible. We hope you’ll find it useful.
How should I appoint an agent?
Firstly, invite two or three estate agents to value your property before deciding which to go with. Recommendations are a good place to start, or look for an agent with a strong presence in your area. It’s easy to be tempted by the highest valuation, but a solid reputation for delivering results and establishing a positive relationship are what really count. Most importantly, choose someone you feel comfortable with, who understands your priorities and will work with you to get the best result.
What information will the estate agent need from me?
Like all UK estate agents, we are required by law to carry out Know Your Customer (KYC) checks. Audited by HMRC, the KYC checks help us to ensure that the UK real estate industry is not misused to facilitate money laundering or to finance criminal activities. In most cases, these checks will simply involve us formally confirming your identity. We’ll also need documentation proving your ownership of the property.
You can find out more at struttandparker.com/knowyourcustomer
When should I instruct a solicitor?
It’s beneficial to do this as soon as possible so your solicitor can begin compiling the necessary paperwork. This will ensure you’re ready to start the conveyancing process as soon as you’ve accepted an offer – which is crucial, as delays are the principal cause of sales collapsing. It’s really important to use a high-quality, local solicitor with extensive property experience and knowledge of related subjects such as boundaries, leases and planning consent.
Ask for recommendations, or search for a firm via the Law Society’s website at solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk (for Scotland, visit lawscot.org.uk/find-a-solicitor).
How is the guide price agreed?
An experienced, knowledgeable estate agent will be invaluable when it comes to agreeing the guide price. We understand the market and can share details of similar local properties that are for sale or have sold recently. We’ll also factor in other considerations, such as how quickly you want to move, or features that are particular to your home. It’s also about strategy: the highest guide price doesn’t always lead to the highest selling price and you may attract more viewings – and competition between keen buyers – by setting it slightly lower.
How should I decide whether to accept an offer?
We’ll discuss any offers received with you and help you decide whether to accept or not. Some buyers may be more attractive than others: perhaps they’re not in a chain or they are cash buyers. We’ll handle all the negotiations, whether it’s dealing with competing offers from several bidders or agreeing any specific conditions, and present you with your options at every stage.
What happens when an offer is accepted?
We’ll carry out due diligence on the buyer and put their solicitor in touch with yours so that they can start drawing up contracts. Delays in drafting the contract can hold up a sale or, at worst, result in it falling through, so it’s vital that your solicitor has all the paperwork and information they need.
Once final copies are signed, the solicitors exchange contracts (conclude missives in Scotland) and the agreement becomes legally binding. If you’re part of a chain, several sellers and buyers are likely to be exchanging at the same time, so it’s important to instruct an experienced agent who can manage the process. At this stage, you’ll also set a completion date.
What happens at completion?
This is the final stage in the process, when the balance of funds is transferred from the buyer’s solicitor to yours, the property title is legally transferred to the new owner, and you must move out. Most solicitors aim to make the transfer happen before midday. In a chain of linked buyers and sellers, the process may be happening simultaneously, a number of times over, so it can take several hours.
Your solicitor will also settle outstanding payments, such as legal fees, Stamp Duty Land Tax (or the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax in Scotland) and your estate agent’s commission.