Presenting Your Property
We don’t want to come over all Sarah Beaney, but take an objective look around you. We all acquire ‘stuff’ that, if left long enough in the same place, has a habit of becoming all but invisible – except to newcomers. Try to put yourself in the position of somebody seeing your home for the first time. Remember, the more personal the contents, the less likely a prospective purchaser will want to see it! De-personalising and de-cluttering are the order of the day.
Make sure the simple maintenance jobs are finished. Loose door handles, blown light bulbs and mouldy shower curtains all point to neglect, and the prospective purchaser is not going to come away with a warm feeling if the door handle has come away in her hand!
Choose Your Agent
Once you have made the decision to sell, you need to think which estate agent is best placed to sell your home. You want to achieve the best possible price, and you want to do so in the shortest time-frame with the least possible fuss. A word of warning; there are agents out there who, when asked for their thoughts on value, will push the figures way beyond what the general market will accept, in order to get your instruction. At first sight, that number can seem mightily attractive, but be aware that your home could languish on the market for a considerable time, and the likelihood is that you will have to accept a significant price reduction before you finally achieve a sale.
Is your agent knowledgeable, approachable and enthusiastic? Don’t forget that prospective purchasers will see what you see, and this is a people business. You want a personable agent, just as they do.
The Sale Fee
Remember to check what is included in the fee. Some agents charge additional fees for photography, plan preparation and advertising. In addition, don’t forget VAT will be charged at the prevailing rate.
Dual Fee Liability
If you have previously marketed your property through a different agent, do check that you are out of contract with them otherwise, in the event that your new agent sells the property, your former agent may still have a claim against you for fees due to them.
Once you have chosen your agent, you will be asked to sign the agency agreement, which is a binding contract. You may have chosen to have joint agents, or more likely sole, but do read it carefully, and check the minimum duration of the contract to ensure you are not tied-in to one agent for an unreasonable length of time.
Know Your Client
This is a legal requirement to prevent money laundering. You will be asked to produce evidence of your identity – an original passport or driving licence, together with a recent utility bill or bank statement with your name on, addressed to the property being sold.
Approval of Marketing Particulars
You will be asked to approve draft particulars for your property. If there are any mistakes or inaccuracies you should make the agent aware before sending the draft back, signed and amended where necessary.
Provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
It is a legal requirement that the agent obtains an EPC and this should be appended to the marketing particulars. If you do not have one, you are advised to instruct an EPC assessor to prepare one to avoid delay.
Make arrangements for access. This could be just providing a front door key, but in modern apartments it could also mean access codes to communal doors, remote fobs for secure garages and balcony keys. Remember, the agent will want to show your house in its best light, so make sure he/she can access it all. And don’t forget to notify the agent of alarm codes, house guests or ravenous chihuahuas!
If you choose not to give your agent a key, do make sure you let them know if you are intending to go away, and make alternative arrangements for key holding.
It hopefully goes without saying that it pays to keep your home tidy – there is always the chance that the agent will call you at work to ask whether he can show somebody round at short notice. Some buyers may struggle to see beyond unmade beds, overflowing laundry baskets, and piles of dishes in the sink!
What are You Including in the Sale?
The agent will need to know this when the sales particulars are prepared, particularly if there are noteworthy features, or semi-fitted items of furniture. It is best to be clear from the outset, rather than risk losing goodwill with the purchasers down the line.
Choosing a Conveyancer
It is a good idea to know in advance who you intend to undertake the legal conveyancing. You may already have a solicitor, but you may also want to obtain quotations for the job, in which case it is a good idea to have this done prior. That way, when you do receive an acceptable offer, the sale is not held up.
Liaising with Your Estate Agent
A good agent should keep you regularly informed of progress, and give you feedback after every viewing. If you haven’t heard anything for a while, don’t be afraid to pick up the ‘phone. Your agent should remain fully involved in the sale process even when the sale is proceeding between solicitors. Any hitches or requests for information should be dealt with swiftly to ensure the sale proceeds unhindered.