Q. How do I know the value of my home?
A. The property market is exactly that – a market. Therefore, there is no secret formula to value properties. You will not know the true value of your home until you find out what the buyers in the market place are willing to pay for it! However there are some hard and safe rules to follow when deciding on the asking price for your home.
Firstly, don’t simply choose the estate agent quoting the highest price as some agents may deliberately inflate the asking price simply to secure your instruction; this can cause your property to be left on the market as buyers pass it by for better value properties.
Equally, you must be aware of agents who will undervalue your home as they could be looking for a quick commission!
A good agent will provide you with comparable evidence of similar properties which are on the market and will form the competition for your property. They will also be able to provide you with details of prices achieved by similar properties that have sold recently.
Q. Should I sell first or find?
A. Although circumstances may dictate that this isn’t a choice you have, given you have the choice, the answer very straight forward. If you wish to save money (and stress!) you must look to find a buyer for your own property before identifying your next home.
If you do not, you will run the risk of having a weak negotiating position. Not being a ‘proceedable’ buyer means many agents will not take offers from you seriously. You also run the risk of having to pay much more to secure the property you want than you would if you already had a buyer for your property.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have seen the property you want but have not yet found a buyer for your property, you may find that you accept a lower offer on your property just so that you can secure your buying position for your onward purchase. If you are unlucky enough to find yourself in this situation the moving process could cost you considerably more than it would have if you had found a buyer for your property first, achieving the top price. And then been in a strong negotiating position to get the best deal for your onward purchase.
Experienced estate agents have seen thousands of pounds lost in these situations and the best advice is where possible to avoid finding your next property until you have a buyer.
Q. How can I achieve the best/top price for my home?
A. This is an area where you as the vendor and your agent need to work very closely together.
Your agent should present your property in the best possible light. You should choose an agent with an inviting office where potential buyers will want to visit. Your agent should also provide good internet coverage, as the internet is a growing source of business for estate agents as more and more people use the internet to search for their next property. Also ensure your agent will advertise your property in the local papers and will also display your property in their window.
As a vendor it is important that you also present your home in the best possible light. Remember that first impressions count. Make sure the front garden, front door and entrance hall all look as tidy and spacious as possible. You can also de-clutter and de-personalise your home and put away, or store anything not used on a daily basis.
It is important to remember that not everyone has the same taste in ornaments and décor so the less personalised your property is, the more people your property will appeal to.
Q. Should I suspend the future marketing of my own home when I have agreed a sale?
A. In most cases it would be considered proper and fair to do so, although this is a personal decision. If you decide to continue marketing your home once an offer has been accepted, you run the risk of your buyer continuing to look for other properties also. The result is an increased chance of the buyers offer being withdrawn. Vendors will usually suspend marketing once a proceedable offer has been accepted.
The decision to suspend the marketing of your property should be made with the position of your buyer in mind. If you have accepted an offer from a buyer who has yet to sell their property and they are unable to proceed without the sale going ahead then you should question the benefit of suspending the marketing of your home. There will be no guarantee that your buyer will sell their home in the time frame or for the price they expect.
Q. How do I know my buyer can afford my property?
A. Many buyers will be buying with a mortgage and it is important for you to know that your prospective buyers can access the funds to buy your property.
You can never be 100% certain that a buyer will have a mortgage accepted on any given property until a survey has been done and the mortgage application passed by the underwriters. However if your agent has properly qualified your buyer then the chances of a mortgage application being refused should be slight.
Many agents will ask buyers for an AIP/DIP (agreement/decision in principle) prior to advising their client to accept an offer from them. This AIP/DIPis a certificate from a mortgage lender to say that in principle the will lend the buyer a specified amount. Although this should not be taken as proof that a buyer can get a mortgage up to the specified value it is a good indication that they can get a mortgage to that amount.
If you receive an offer from a perspective buyer you should ask your agent if they have seen the buyers AIP/DIP. Even better most estate agents offer mortgage advice and the mortgage advisor in the branch may be able financially qualify he buyer for you.
Be very wary of any offer which has not been financially qualified by your agent, it is your agent's job to ensure that your buyer is financially qualified as thoroughly as they can be. You should not be expected to accept an offer from anyone who has not been properly financially qualified.
Q. When should I instruct my solicitor?
A. The earlier the better. You don’t have to instruct your solicitor until you have found a buyer/property. However, by instructing your solicitor earlier you could well save time.
When you place your property on the market, your solicitor can often get paperwork ready so that the contracts can be sent out as soon as you have agreed a sale.
Q. What sort of survey should I have?
A. There are currently three types of survey available to you and the cost of these surveys can vary dramatically. You can choose from:
Full structural survey
The valuation report will be required if you are buying with a mortgage, you then have the option to pay extra for the Homebuyers report or Full structural survey if you wish to. Your agent/mortgage advisor will be able to explain in more details the benefits of each type of survey.
Q. Do I need a deposit, and if so when will I have to pay it?
A. You will require a deposit unless you are using a 100% mortgage to purchase your property. Your agent is likely to have a mortgage advisor who can explain your options to you.
Prior to exchange of contracts it is usual to pay a 10% deposit to your solicitor, in many cases 5% will be acceptable. If you are using a 100% mortgage your mortgage advisor will explain the process to you.
Your solicitor will need your deposit money available to exchange contracts; it is therefore advisable to ensure that these funds are available early on.
Q. When can I pick up the keys to my new home?
A. The keys for your new home will usually be held by the estate agent you are buying through and can be collected on the day of completion. However,you will have to wait for solicitors to confirm that the appropriate finances have completed at the bank before keys can be released to you. Sometimes, this can delay formal completion until late in the completion day.
Although delays in completion can be very frustrating, especially if you are selling a property which has already completed, the estate agent is not permitted to release the keys to you until they have been informed of formal completion by the solicitor.
If you do experience a delay on the day of completion it is always a good idea to check that your solicitor has actually transferred your funds!
Q. Is selling really as stressful as everyone says?
A. In short, it shouldn’t be. Choosing your agent carefully will help. Your agent needs to share an understanding of your requirements and time scales. A good agent with experience will recognise the fact that introducing a buyer is only the start of the process. An agent should be there to manage your whole move, including liaising with other parties involved in your chain such as solicitors, mortgage companies and other agents. Of course, your interests should be best represented at all times.
If your agent provides good after sales service, qualifies your buyer’s financial status and chain details at the outset, and maintains a good contact once a sale is agreed, then this will certainly go a long way to reducing the stress!