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Putting your home on the market

This page looks at the first steps you need to take in order to sell your home, including getting a valuation, setting a price, preparing your home for viewing and showing people round.

What to do first

You can find a buyer yourself, but it is advisable to employ the services of a solicitor or estate agent. They can

  • act as your selling agent
  • check for any legal problems that could cause a problem with the sale (for example, work that has been done to the property without planning permission)
  • advise you about how much your home might sell for
  • prepare the home report for you property.

Once you agree to sell your home to a buyer, the transaction can go through quite quickly, so it is a good idea to let your solicitor or estate agent know that you are planning to sell before you put your property on the market. This allows them plenty of time to gather together the necessary information, such as documents confirming that you have the right to sell the property and that that there are no outstanding repairs to communal areas.

Preparing your home

There are lots of programmes on TV showing you how to make the most of your property so that it appeals to potential buyers and fetches the maximum price possible. In practice, however, it may not be convenient for you to repaint and refurnish your entire home before it goes on the market. As a rule:

  • make sure the place is tidy and spotlessly clean and smells fresh
  • pack away as much clutter and personal items (such as books, DVDs, photos, toys, etc) as possible
  • put any excess furniture into storage
  • make sure all lights are working and rooms are as bright as possible
  • hide dog beds, cat litter trays, hamster cages and other evidence of pets
  • tidy up the front of the property and the garden.

You can find more advice at Channel 4's 4Homes.

Decide the price

Before you can put your home on the market you will have to set a price. You can advertise your home at a 'fixed price' or invite 'offers over' a price that you set. Fixed price means that you will sell your home to the first person to offer you the price that you have asked for. If you ask for offers over, potential buyers will offer you higher prices and you can decide which offer to accept. Usually sellers will accept the highest offer, but you could accept an offer because the buyer wants to move in on a day that suits you or just because you like them.

The home report

Anyone putting a property on the market must provide a home report for prospective buyers.

Find out more about home reports

Put your home on the market

You're now ready to put your home on the market. This involves:

  • producing publicity material for your home
  • advertising your home in property newspapers and online
  • putting up a 'for sale' board
  • arranging for prospective buyers to view your home.

Your selling agent can arrange all these for you, although you may wish to show buyers round your home yourself. Any publicity material such as schedules or particulars must be accurate.

Show people round

Unless you have very little time or have already moved out of your home, it may be better for you to show potential buyers around your home yourself. This is because:

  • you will be able to answer people's questions about the home and the area more fully
  • you will know exactly which fittings and fixtures you'll be taking with you and which will be staying
  • you are in a better position to talk up the benefits of living there.

Read the guide to holding viewings at TheMoveChannel.com for more useful tips.

If people are interested in the property they will either get their solicitor to make an offer or note their interest. If they note their interest it means that they don't want you to sell the property without giving them the chance to make an offer. If you receive an offer or some notes of interest you can start the selling process.

My home isn't selling

If you're having problems selling your home, there are four options open to you:

  • Stick it out - perhaps not the best tactic, as buyers can be wary of properties that have been on the market for a long time. However, a buyer could be just around the corner.
  • Go to fixed price - fixed price properties are attractive to potential buyers (especially first time buyers) and generally guarantee a quicker sale.
  • Take the it off the market - this may not be an option if you have already bought a new home and need to pay for it. However, if time is not an issue, it may be a good idea to take the home off the market during traditional slow sales months (summer and winter) and put it back on again during autumn or spring.

Ask your solicitor's advice before making any decisions.

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This content applies to Scotland only.
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