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Selling your house “as is” can seem an attractive proposition. According to the UK government, it takes on average two to three months to sell a property. Of course many properties sell considerably quicker, and if speed is the priority then specific marketing plans can be implemented on that basis. However it will significantly extend the process of selling if you chose to make potentially lengthy upgrades when you could just put your house on the market now?

Of course, nothing is ever quite that simple, and there are some important considerations to make when it comes to selling a house in its current condition. To help you make up your mind, read our in-depth guide on selling a property “as is”.

What does it mean for a house to sell “as is”?

When a house is listed in “as is” condition, it essentially informs buyers that the seller isn’t willing to carry out any improvements or repairs. This is often the case with inherited property, whereby the new owners – the heirs – may not have lived in the house for many years, if at all. Understandably, in this scenario, the owners are unlikely to be familiar with the full history of the property or any outstanding maintenance issues – and they’re also likely to be seeking a quick sale.

What laws apply to selling a house “as is”?

Even if a house is sold “as is”, this doesn’t alleviate any responsibility on the part of the owner to give the buyer a full and accurate picture of the property’s condition. Since 2013, the description and sale of property have been governed by the Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trading Regulations. This means that if the seller fails to disclose an issue that could legitimately affect the buyer’s decision, they may face prosecution. In the best-case scenario, a lack of full disclosure can lead to a reduced offer; in the worst case the sale could fall through completely.

How should information on your property be disclosed?

Unsurprisingly, given its importance, a clear process exists around the description of houses for sale. As a first step, your estate agent will request that you complete a Property Information Form (TA6); this is your opportunity to detail everything about your home. Make sure your estate agent knows of any concerns you may have about the property so that they can be passed on to prospective buyers. Your conveyancing solicitor will also need to be aware of such issues.

What information do you need to disclose?

While it might sound counterintuitive to write a list of things that could put off potential buyers, it’s important to be open and honest at this stage – which means detailing everything from disputes with the neighbours to any building work you’ve completed.

It can be hard to grasp what information should be included. It doesn’t matter if you don’t exchange Christmas cards with your neighbours every year, but if they have a history of throwing noisy all-night parties and you’ve informed the police, this will need to be disclosed. While far from an exhaustive list, the following should help you to understand the sort of things to include:

  • Are there high crime levels in the area?
  • Is your house beneath a flight path?
  • Does the property have any underlying structural issues?
  • Is it next door to a pub or school?
  • Have you had problems with pests or Japanese knotweed?

Bear in mind that this information isn’t intended to make your house sound horrendous. Something that seems like an issue to you may actually be a positive to a prospective buyer. The pub down the road might be a constant source of frustration, but the new owner might love the convenience of having a friendly local watering hole on their doorstep. Just concentrate on providing the facts and let your house speak for itself.

Also, remember that your estate agent will be able to provide guidance on what’s relevant and what isn’t – so if you’re in doubt, just ask.

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Is it better to fix problems before putting a house on the market?

With all this in mind, it can be easy to fall into the trap of making your house absolutely perfect before putting it up for sale. But people have different ideas of “perfect” – even though you think that the new wallpaper and carpets you decide to install are the height of impeccable taste, they could put off buyers with different style preferences. It’s all too common for sellers to sink money into upgrades that don’t add anything to the property’s value (or even worse, that a potential buyer might not even notice).

Similarly, bear in mind that your personal circumstances are more important than carrying out extensive home improvements. After all, most people don’t have the luxury of waiting for weeks or months to sell a house. When you factor in the time and expense of repairs and refurbishments – not to mention the inconvenience of living in a construction site – it’s often better to simply sell now.

If you are intent on making improvements rather than selling “as is”, make sure you concentrate on the areas that are likely to make the biggest difference. Research from GoCompare found that damp, bad smells and poor maintenance are the biggest put-offs for potential buyers, so if your house has any of these issues, focus on resolving them first. If you’re unsure whether a repair or improvement is worth the time and money, discuss it with your estate agent first. For more information, read our in-depth guide “What Adds Most Value to a House”.

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Correct at time of publication (28th January 2019). The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the individual contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chancellors Group of Estate Agents Ltd or its subsidiaries. References to legislation, best practice and other matters with legal implications such as fees, rules and processes are included for information and editorial purposes only and are not authoritative, nor should they be interpreted as advice. When in doubt you should only take advice from an industry professional or solicitor where appropriate. E&OE.