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How to sell a house

How to sell a house
Image source: Getty Images

Selling a house can get a little stressful, but it’s much easier if you have a plan. So, to help you navigate the sometimes confusing world of conveyancing, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to sell a house. 

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1. Check your mortgage agreement 

Contact your mortgage lender and ask:

  • If they’ll charge you extra for settling the mortgage early 
  • Whether it’s possible to transfer your mortgage to your new property, or remortgage 

Early repayment charges can be up to 5% of the outstanding mortgage, so be sure to budget for this. 

2. Calculate selling costs 

Don’t forget there are costs involved in selling a house. Costs vary, but you’ll generally need to cover: 

  • Legal costs 
  • Estate agency fees – usually at least 1% of the selling price + VAT
  • Home removal costs 
  • Final utility bills
  • Mortgage and lending fees
  • Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – this usually costs between £60 and £120.

To help you budget properly, start shopping around early for quotes. Get a sense of how much you’ll need to pay.  

3. Spruce up your home

First impressions count, so it’s worth giving your house a little TLC before you put it on the market. 

  • Give each room a fresh coat of paint in a neutral colour so it’s a blank canvas for potential buyers.
  • Declutter your home – show off the space to available in your home by packing up and storing some of your things. 
  • Cut the grass and take care of any weeds. 
  • Make small repairs (e.g. broken gate locks). 

An estate agent can tell you if it’s worth making more expensive improvements.

4. Get a valuation

Next, check how much your house is worth. 

  • Look online to see how much similar properties in your area are selling for.
  • Ask a few different estate agents for a valuation. 

Once you’ve got your valuation, you can set an asking price.  

5. Pick an estate agent 

Want to know how to sell a house as quickly as possible? Hire an estate agent. Sure, you can arrange your own marketing and organise viewings, but estate agents often have the expertise to get you the best offer possible. 

Don’t just choose the first estate agent you meet, though. Check:

  • What fees they charge
  • How they plan on marketing your property
  • If they’ve sold similar properties in your area 

6. Get your paperwork in order

There’s some paperwork you’ll need to organise before you can sell a house:

  • EPC (if your existing EPC is more than 10 years old, you’ll need a new one)
  • Building or planning permission certificates
  • Title deeds

It’s usually the buyer’s responsibility to instruct a property survey (but it’s the seller’s responsibility in Scotland). The survey reports on the property’s overall condition and highlights any defects that may affect the final sale price. Costs start at around £400, depending on the property size and condition.

Unless you’re selling in Scotland, it’s unlikely you’ll need to arrange this, but your estate agent can advise you if it’s worth it. 

7. Instruct a solicitor

Solicitors handle the conveyancing side of things – the legal process of transferring ownership from one person to another.

Ensure you understand their fee structure and shop around for a few options before you sign any agreements.

8. Negotiate the contract 

Got an offer you’re happy to accept? Congratulations! Now it’s time to start the conveyancing process. 

  • Set a completion date (i.e. the day you’ll hand over the keys). It’s usually no more than 28 days after signing the final contract (known as the exchange).
  • Talk to your solicitor before agreeing to any price reductions for defects identified in the survey.
  • Agree what fixtures and fittings you’re including with the property (e.g. white goods and curtain poles).

You can withdraw from the sale at any time before exchanging contracts without penalty. If you pull out after exchanging contracts, you may need to compensate the buyer. 

So, that’s how to sell a house. But what happens if there’s a problem? 

Potential problems and how to deal with them

What happens if you don’t get any offers, or if there’s an issue in the chain? 

Your home doesn’t sell 

If you’re not getting offers, or the offers are too low, get feedback from your estate agent. They’ll tell you if they think it’s worth making some home improvements or lowering the asking price.

Problems in the chain

Chances are, there’s a property chain. In other words, your buyer needs to sell their house to buy yours, and you must sell your house to buy another one. If there’s a delay or a problem, it affects everyone.

Stay in regular contact with your estate agent and solicitor to be clear on what’s happening.  


Okay, so that’s how to sell a house in simple terms, but every property sale is a little different. If you’re worried about whether you can afford to sell, or if you’re confused about which mortgage option is right for you, always get financial advice first. 

Finally, this is a great time to draw up a moving house checklist to be clear on what needs to happen, and when.

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