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House-selling checklist: Is your home ready to be sold?

Taking some time to assess whether your home is ready to be sold can really pay off through a quick sale and a potentially higher sale price.

And once you’ve made your assessment, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure your property is absolutely ready to be purchased by someone new…

What you need to know before selling your house

Before selling your property, there are several steps you’ll need to take and things you’ll need to know.

You should:

• Take a look at your finances and assess if you can afford to sell and move

• Assess the local market and speak to a local agent to work out if it’s the right time for you to sell

Get your property valued by an estate agent

• Set an asking price that works for you

• Instruct your chosen estate agent

• Get your paperwork in order

• Instruct a conveyancing solicitor

What paperwork is needed to sell a house?

If you’re looking to sell your property quickly, getting all your paperwork in order right at the start of the process can really help keep things on track.

Here’s all the documents you’ll need when selling your home:

• Proof of identity – passport or driving licence

• A copy of your property’s title deeds – if your home hasn’t been sold since 1986, you’ll need to find these as the Land Registry may not have a copy

• A copy of your lease if your property is leasehold

• A valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

• A valid Home Report if you’re selling in Scotland

• A freeholder / management information pack if your property is leasehold

• A completed TA10 fitting and contents form

• A completed TA6 property information form

What fees do you pay when selling a house in the UK?

While many of the larger costs associated with a property transaction are absorbed by the buyer, there are some costs you’ll need to factor in when getting your home ready to sell.

Those include:

• Estate agent’s commission

• Solicitor / conveyancing fees

• Removals costs

Other costs you may potentially face when selling your home include:

• Costs to undertake work preparing your home for sale

• Mortgage exit or early repayment fees

• Capital gains tax if you’ve previously let out your home

• A Home Report if you’re selling in Scotland

• Cost of a new Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

The ultimate checklist to get your house ready for sale

A busy housing market and strong buyer demand doesn’t always guarantee you a quick sale.

If your property doesn’t match up to the competition, you’ll need to take steps to ensure it’s presented in the best possible way.

Here are eight simple things you can do to make your home stand out to buyers…

  1. Boost your kerb appeal
  2. Declutter your space
  3. Depersonalise your property
  4. Use rooms as they are intended
  5. Give your décor a lift
  6. Get your home sparkling clean
  7. Remove any lingering odours
  8. Give your garden a spruce-up

Boost your kerb appeal

First impressions really do count when buyers arrive for a viewing.

In fact, it’s estimated that a buyer forms an impression on a property within five minutes of arriving.

So, if your property is looking unloved and tatty from the outside, you could be costing yourself a sale before a buyer has even set foot inside.

Before viewings, you should:

• Clean down windowpanes and frames

• Mow front lawns and trim back hedging

• Jet wash pathways

• Hide your bins away

• Remove moss or weeds from driveways or paths

• Refresh any gravelled areas with new material

• Paint your front door

Declutter your space

Before you start talking to estate agents about putting your home on the market, try to clear away as much as you can.

Clutter can be hugely off-putting for buyers, who will be trying to visualise their own things in your space.

Store away, throw away, sell, or give away anything you no longer need, which could include:

• Toys

• Shoes

• Bathroom products

• Kitchen appliances

• Pieces of furniture

Basically, anything you don’t use regularly that is simply gathering dust!

From an estate agent’s point of view, clearing away clutter before they take marketing photographs of your property is a must.

Depersonalise your property – but not too much

It’s true that buyers can find dozens of family pictures difficult to look beyond on a viewing.

But on the other hand, buyers also want to see a property that’s loved – rather than a cold, sterile place with no personality.

Try to strike a balance.

Leave some personal items, like the odd family photo in living spaces, or child’s drawing pinned to the fridge.

A few well-chosen pieces can show you care about your home and have enjoyed your time there – which could help buyers see the property in the same way.

Use rooms as they are intended

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen more and more of us switch to home working – and this could continue, with 71% of businesses planning to maintain flexible working after the pandemic.

One thing working from home has seen is more property owners converting bedrooms and dining rooms into offices.

Before you put your property on the market, think about the kind of buyers you’re looking to attract and how your property should work for them.

With bedrooms, it’s advised that you convert the one you’re using as an office back into a sleeping space ahead of viewings, so buyers can see how the space of the room functions and visualise what kind of furniture they could fit in.

Give your décor a lift

While injecting personality into your home with bright colours or loud wallpaper can be a great way to bring your property alive, for buyers it can be distracting.

Traditional advice would encourage you to paint all walls white or magnolia, so buyers can focus on space and how they’d use it.

But you shouldn’t be afraid to leave some colour and personality in your décor.

Think elegant greys, or traditional deep blues and greens – all colours that stand the test of time and are more likely to appeal to a buyer than so called ‘neutral’ colours.

More home tips

Get your home sparkling clean

One thing that’s non-negotiable ahead of property viewings is cleanliness.

Your home should be sparkling clean when buyers arrive for a look around – and if it isn’t, buyers will often see it as un-cared for and wonder what else has been left to deteriorate.

Bringing in a professional cleaning company can be a worthwhile expense if your home is in need of a deep clean.

Professional cleaners will have the equipment to breathe new life into things like carpets and shower screens that can often be neglected in the standard weekly clean.

And don’t forget to target places you might think are hidden away – buyers will almost certainly open cupboard doors in kitchens and inspect your oven, so make sure those areas are looking their best.

Remove any lingering odours

Even if you can’t smell odours in your home, buyers may be able to.

Pets, smoking or cooking spicy food can all cause lingering odours that buyers may find unpleasant.

So, ahead of a viewing, open plenty of windows to let fresh air flow through your home and place fragrance devices in rooms where smells are a problem.

Avoid cooking spicy food the night before a viewing, too.

And if you’re able to find a dog sitter to look after your pet overnight, that can help remove animal smells ahead of buyers arriving.

Give your garden a spruce-up

The colder months can take their toll on your garden.

So, if you’re looking to sell in spring or summer, be sure to give your outside space some TLC ahead of viewings.

Trim back overgrown hedges or plants, mow and feed your lawn and jet wash patios and pathways.

Outdoor space has arguably never been higher on buyer wish lists, so presenting yours as a useable, relaxing space can really make a big difference when selling your home.

What work should I do to my house before selling?

Think carefully about taking on major work before selling your home.

While it can be tempting to undertake huge projects in a bid to add value, you could end up spending more than you get back through your sale.

Not only that, but it’s also possible to make your home less appealing to buyers by making big changes.

Instead of taking on lots of work, focus instead on the problems your property has – especially those that could come up in a buyer’s survey report.

That could include:

• Updating your home’s electrics

• Fixing a leaky roof

• Repairing or replacing guttering and downpipes

• Levelling or repairing floors

• Updating your plumbing and / or heating system

• Putting security measures in place, such as an alarm or security lights

How much to spend preparing your house for sale

You should be able to prepare your property for sale without spending a small fortune.

Repairing and replacing things like broken tiles or leaky taps shouldn’t cost more than a few hundred pounds, alongside updating your property’s décor with a fresh lick of paint.

If more major work is required, such as roof repairs or replacing a heating system, think about whether it’s worth spending thousands of pounds, or whether you’d be better to accept a slightly lower offer from a buyer in return for them taking on the work.

Further reading…

Looking to complete your next home renovation project? We’ve put together the biggest DIY trends. Plus find out how to sell your home fast.

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