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Top tips for selling your home

Selling your home can be stressful. The sale is usually a personal experience and where emotions are involved it is understandable that stress levels may rise. The following top tips should go some way towards easing the process and making sure your transaction proceeds as smoothly and as calmly as possible.

Ten top tips to consider when selling your home:

  1.  Instruct a solicitor before you find a buyer for your property. When selling a property some people decide to instruct a solicitor only after they have found a buyer and have agreed a price. However by instructing a solicitor from the very beginning the solicitor is often able to obtain all the background information and necessary paperwork on the proposed transaction before a price is agreed. Helping to avoid any unnecessary delays (which can prove fatal to a house sale) this will ensure that all the papers are ready to be forwarded to the buyer’s solicitors as soon as a buyer is found.
  2. Make sure you understand the legal terminology ‘Exchange’ and ‘Completion’ are the key dates in any transaction. Exchange is the date on which contracts for the sale or purchase are exchanged between the respective parties (the buyer(s) and seller(s). At this point a binding contract comes into existence meaning neither party may withdraw without incurring liability. On exchange both parties will agree a completion date which is usually about two weeks after exchange. This is the date on which you will move house. If you are at all confused as to the legal terminology used your solicitor should be more than happy to explain things to you in plain English.
  3. Be honest with the buyer (and their solicitor). If you are asked any questions by the buyer (or their solicitor) about your property you must answer these honestly. For example, you will be asked to fill in a Property Information Form which asks for details such as which boundaries you maintain on the property, whether you have had any disputes with your neighbours etc. Even if your answers make the property look worse to the buyer you must still provide this information. Failure to do so may jeopardise the sale later on and you could be liable to the buyer for withholding or providing false information.
  4. Ask about Capital Gains Tax. You do not normally have to pay Capital Gains Tax on the sale of private residences. However if you are selling a property in which you do not live, such as a second home, then you may have to pay Capital Gains Tax. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on this.
  5. Know when you have to move out. Contracts usually state that you must vacate your property on the day of Completion. This means that you must have moved out, normally by 1 or 2pm on that day. However it is not uncommon to agree an earlier or later time if required. As well as physically vacating the property you need to remove all your possessions and make sure that the property is left clean and tidy.
  6. Make sure you are covered. When a property is empty it is often wrongly assumed that as long as the building insurance policy is maintained then it will cover all the usual circumstances. It is quite normal however that certain risks will be excluded after a property has been left empty for more than 30 days. For example, burst pipes and vandalism are commonly excluded on insurance policies. It is important therefore that you make sure any such risks are covered on your policy in the event of the property being left empty.
  7. Arrange an EPC . You must provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EFC) to your buyer. Once obtained an EPC lasts for 10 years.
  8. Check the timescale of the transaction at the start It is important that you check with your solicitor the likely timescale of the transaction. On average it will take a minimum of six weeks from agreeing a sale to moving in. This period can be reduced or lengthened depending on the chain and the complexity of the move. Your solicitor should provide you with regular updates and keep you informed as to any delays. You should never organise a removal van until you have been advised of a definite date for Completion by your solicitor.
  9. Understand your obligations You can usually withdraw from a transaction at any time before contracts are exchanged with no liability or obligation to pay any fees towards other side’s costs. Your solicitor will be able to talk you through your obligations as a buyer or seller in more detail.
  10. Take the time to choose the right solicitor A sensible way of choosing a solicitor is by personal recommendation. For example a friend, family member or work colleague may be able to recommend a particular firm they have used. It is always worth taking the time to talk to any potential solicitor to ensure that they meet your specific requirements.

For more advice on the above and/or for further tips on buying or selling a home download our guide Common mistakes people make when moving house. Full of handy advice from our Residential Conveyancing experts, the guide has a number of top-tips to ensure that whether you are buying or selling your home, your transaction is as pain free as possible.

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