Selling a house in winter

Many people choose to market their property in the Spring as they consider selling a house in winter may be more difficult.  Spring is a time when gardens can be seen as a pleasant and useful addition to a house rather than an uninteresting area which needs maintaining.   But sometimes circumstances dictate when a property is marketed, eg, where there is a deceased estate, and it may not be possible to avoid selling a house in winter.  And by marketing your house during winter you may find a buyer before the surge of properties comes onto the market in Spring.

Tips on selling a house in winter

  1. Keep the house warm. Setting the central heating for a longer period, ideally all day (even at a slightly lower temperature) is better than turning the heating on for short periods.  This helps to heat the walls, etc, rather than just the air within the house and gives a more comfortable temperature with less chance of condensation.
  2. Even when it is cold outside, remember to open windows regularly, particularly when cooking and after using the shower or bath. You may have viewings at short notice and what could be more off-putting than water running down windows?
  3. Clean any mould from windows and window frames.
  4. Clear any leaves from gullies to allow drainage of rainwater. Check that gutters are not holding leaves, moss, etc.
  5. Drain water from any outside taps and pipework to outside WCs.
  6. If there is a cold spell, put salt or grit on paths/drives so that potential purchasers can safely walk around external areas to view the property.
  7. Clear any moss/lichen from paths/steps so that they are not slippery.
  8. Set traps or poison to control pests such as mice, looking for a warm place to nest, particularly if the house is in a rural area.
  9. Clean windows regularly and open curtains and blinds fully to maximise light into the property. Where rooms are poorly lit, consider low level lighting or lamps for additional light.

If you are selling an empty house then:

  1. Turn off the water at the stop cock and drain down all services well before there is a risk of freezing. If there are any outside taps don’t forget to turn these on to drain any water from within the pipe/s.
  2. If you haven’t already done so, inform your buildings insurer that the house is empty.
  3. Consider putting some heat into the property. If the central heating has been drained down then heat could be provided by electric heaters, possibly on a timer, or set manually the day before any viewings.  The house doesn’t have to be warm enough to live in, just enough heat to take the chill out of the house.

And above all, check the house regularly and check for damage after any storms.  If you are not living at the property you will not have heard tiles crashing to the ground during high winds.  If you don’t live nearby, then ask the selling agent to make regular visits and make this a condition of your instructions.

See also preparing your house for viewings.

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Obtaining a valuation when selling a house bought under the Help to Buy Scheme

Obtaining a valuation when selling a house bought under the help to buy scheme.

When selling a house bought under the help to buy scheme (or repaying the loan in part or in full), Target HCA have specific requirements, one of which is to obtain a valuation.

The valuation must be carried out by a Chartered Surveyor (FRICS or MRICS), must be independent to an estate agent and must be someone who is not known to you.

The Valuer must inspect the property internally and externally.  It is likely that the Valuer will also have questions to ask you such as whether the property is freehold or leasehold, the extent of the plot, whether there are any garages or parking spaces outside the plot, whether there are any shared drives/access ways, etc.  The Valuer will also need to confirm the agreed purchase price.

The Valuer will research sales of comparable properties, making adjustments for any differences in size, location, changes in market conditions, etc.

The Valuer will prepare a report which will include a description of the property and its location.  It will also include brief details of at least three comparable properties in the area which have sold (or are under offer).  The report will set out the Valuer’s opinion on the value of the property based on the inspection and comparables.

Target HCA place a time limit of 3 months on the Valuation, therefore many homeowners choose to wait and instruct the Valuation when a sale has been agreed, rather than when the property is first offered for sale.  If the sale of the house does not complete within the 3 month period then a further valuation will need to be obtained.  Target HCA will accept a Desktop Valuation by the original Valuer provided certain criteria are met.

For further information visit     http://www.myfirsthome.org.uk/

To find a suitably qualified Chartered Surveyor who carries out valuations in your area visit   www.rics.org/uk

See also our home page for further information on buying and selling a house.

Source:  Target HCA Customer Information Pack

 

buying and selling a house

 

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Key steps in the house buying process

The house buying process is not complicated.  Once you have found your new home, most of the work is done by others such as your solicitor, estate agent, etc.  However, it is important to do the right things and instruct the right people at the right time.

Key steps in the house buying process

The list below includes some of the main steps in the house buying process:

  1. Work out a budget and arrange finance for the house you wish to buy (unless you are a cash buyer).
  1. Decide what type of new home you are looking for and select an area. If you are moving to a new area it may be worth considering renting first to get a better idea of which area you would most suit your needs.  See Choosing between buying and renting a property.
  1. Choose and instruct an estate agent (if you also have a property to sell), see Choosing an Estate Agent.
  1. If you have a property to sell, make sure it is presentable before arranging any viewings. Take the opportunity  to clear out things you no longer need.  Tidy up and thoroughly spring clean.  Make sure there are no unpleasant odours, particularly if you have pets.  Any house looks better when it is clean and tidy.  See Preparing your house for viewings.
  1. Arrange an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) on the house you are selling.
  1. Choose and instruct a solicitor.
  1. When you have found the property you wish to purchase, arrange for a survey to be carried out (in addition to any mortgage valuation). Forward a copy of the report to your solicitor as there are likely to be items for your solicitor to check.
  1. Arrange insurance cover for your new house. If you are taking out a mortgage then sometimes an insurance reinstatement figure is included on the Valuation report.  The reinstatement figure is not necessarily the same as the Valuation figure or agreed purchase price.
  1. Liaise with your solicitor to agree exchange and completion dates.
  1. Get quotations from removal firms and book for your proposed moving date.
  1. Make a list of contacts/accounts/utilities to advise of your change of address. Don’t forget any online accounts, etc.

 

 

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Choosing an Estate Agent – sole agency, multi-agency, local agent or internet agent

How do you go about choosing an estate agent to sell your property?
First, check which agents have a strong local presence.  Look out for “For Sale” and, ideally “Sold” boards in your area before choosing an estate agent.  Also, check which ones advertise regularly in the local press.  Ask any friends and neighbours who have moved recently for feedback on the estate agents they used.

Make a shortlist of 3 to 4 estate agents and ask them to view your property to suggest an asking price and indicate a likely selling price.  Ask them for details of similar properties they have sold recently, including the actual selling prices and the length of time between putting on the market and completing.  There is little point in advertising your home for an unrealistically high price if there is little chance of a sale at that price.  Ask whether they currently have any similar properties for sale and whether they are attracting interest.  This will enable you to judge the level of demand.

Do your homework.  You can check the sold prices for similar properties in your area on www.nethouseprices.com

Check their fees.  What percentage of the sale price do they charge?  Are there any additional fees, eg, for advertising?

Decide between “Sole Agency” and “Multi Agency” and check the contract details carefully before choosing an estate agent.  Sometimes a fee may be charged even if you sell your property privately or through another agent.

Ask how they propose to advertise your property.  An estate agent will produce sales particulars to advertise your property.  In addition to paper copies they will normally make use of online resources, such as Rightmove, as many potential purchasers now do their searching online.

Obtain copies of the contracts before deciding which agent to instruct and read the contract carefully.  Find out how long you will be tied to them before you are able to change to another agent or take your property off the market in the event your circumstances change.
 

 

 

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Easing the sale of your house

What can I do to ease the sale of my house?

What can I do to help the sale of my house?

After several viewings you have finally accepted an offer on your house.  You are most likely to be in a chain and do not wish to delay things.  The last thing you want at this stage is to lose your buyer which, in turn, might mean that you cannot proceed with the purchase of your new home as planned.  While you may not be able to speed up the process there may be some things you can do to make things go more smoothly and avoid delays at a later stage.

Get together any documents you have for works carried out to your property
You might ask, “What can I do to ease the sale of my house?”

  1. If you have had any works carried out which required Local Authority approvals such extensions which required Building Regulation Approval and/or Planning Permission, or any other works which required Building Regulation Approval, then make one copy of the documents to hand to your solicitor and keep a further copy for prospective purchasers to see. It is much easier if this information is available at the outset and will avoid delays at a later date.
  1. Get together any documents such as service documents for the central heating installation and any test certificates you may have for the electrical installation. If, say, you have had the central heating serviced regularly on a service contract then it is a good idea that your buyer knows that this has been done.  A property which has been maintained is much more attractive to a buyer.
  1. If any replacement windows or doors have been fitted then get together any receipts and warranties, including FENSA certificate/s.
  1. If cavity wall insulation has been installed to your property then forward a copy of the CIGA guarantee to your solicitor.

Above all, be honest. If the central heating hasn’t been serviced recently then the buyer will know to get this attended to.  Likewise, if any alterations have been carried out it is better that the buyer is aware of what has been done so they can have things checked if necessary.  In some cases where works have been carried out by a previous owner it is possible that there will be no such documentation.

See also Preparing Your House for Viewings

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Preparing your house for viewings

There are several simple and inexpensive things you can do yourself to make your house more attractive to a potential buyer.

You’ve decided to sell your house.  You know it will suit some people, but not everyone.  It is simply a matter of time before the right person comes along.  But do you need to prepare your house for viewings?  Is there anything you can do to help persuade a potential purchaser to put in an offer?

The answer is “yes”.  There are several simple and inexpensive things you can do yourself to make your house more attractive to a potential buyer and make any viewings more successful.

  • Clear out junk. Rooms can look amazingly larger with less clutter.
  • Tidy up. Make the house look organised.
  • Get cleaning! Pay particular attention to kitchen and bathroom fittings, and tiles.  No-one wants to move into a dirty house.  You have to make it look as though someone can move in an unpack straight away, rather than having to spend ages cleaning through years of someone else’s grime.
  • Make surfaces sparkle. And don’t forget the windows.
  • If you have pets, make sure there are no odours.
  • Don’t mask odours with air fresheners, fresh air is better.
  • Add plants/flowers, in fact anything to make the place more homely, but don’t overdo it.
  • Get on top of the gardening.
  • Clean paths, patios, etc. Moss and mould can be off putting.  Weeds growing through cracks make the place look as though it has been neglected.
  • Open blinds and pull curtains back to let in as much natural light as possible.

If you plan to do any decorating before putting your house on the market, choose neutral shades which can add light to each room.  Avoid bold colours.  You might like to have one wall purple or turquoise, but this can be off putting to many people.  Most people can live with neutral shades until they get around to decorating to their own taste.  Use the same colour for a number of rooms to create a feeling of continuity and to make your home feel larger.

Above all, keep the place clean and tidy at all times, both inside and out.  You never know when someone might want to come and view your home.

See also Easing the Sale of your House

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