The process of selling a house can seem long and confusing, particularly if you’ve never done it before. That’s why we’ve created this easy-to-understand guide detailing the steps involved in transferring legal ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer.
From marketing a property to exchanging contracts and handing over the keys, we’ve broken down each stage of the process below. You’ll also see the role of the buyer and mortgage company at each step, giving you a complete overview of the whole process all in one place.
Steps involved in buying or selling a house
1. Marketing your property
Developing an effective marketing plan is a vital step in the process of selling a house. From taking the best pictures of your property to choosing the most useful channels for reaching potential buyers, your marketing strategy will inevitably cover a wide range of details.
While it is theoretically possible for the seller to market their own property, this is a huge undertaking that can have a massive influence on the quantity of prospective buyers you’re able to attract. All four major property portals – Rightmove, Zoopla, PrimeLocation and OnTheMarket – only accept listings through an estate agent or developer, making it impossible for individuals to list their property and compete with other properties marketed professionally.
Marketing a property professionally will also open up your property to the estate agent’s database. Here at Chancellors, we have more than 90,000 active applicants to whom we can instantly market your property.
There are other activities undertaken by estate agents which individuals won’t have access to. For instance, we offer a highly comprehensive marketing package for sellers designed to showcase your property in a way that attracts potential buyers.
Another benefit of using an estate agent is their presence. Chancellors, for example, have adopted a hybrid business model, incorporating a website that has all the tools a buyer needs – our website allows you to view and save properties, save searches and book appointments online. We also benefit from more than 50 strategically located branches in busy areas, giving further exposure to your property within local communities in your area.
The asking price can also be a hurdle to marketing your own house. You can find out the rough value of your property online using online property valuation tools. However, as one of the largest independent estate agents in the UK, with extensive local knowledge, we know that the marketing value of a house will often differ to the price suggested by these online valuations. Marketing your house at the wrong price can be extremely costly and could result in the house sitting on the market for a very long time without any movement or, perhaps worse still, the risk of selling too cheaply without maximising its value for you.
For these reasons, we believe that appointing the right estate agent – one with vast experience of the local property market and a clear understanding of how to reach the right people – is extremely important.
This is why we recommend starting the process of selling your house by requesting a free market appraisal from our expert team. We’ll provide a valuation of your property – based on its condition, the local area, and the current price of similar houses nearby – and explain how we would go about achieving the best sale price within your timescale.
Your estate agent will arrange and attend viewings on your behalf. With their support, you’ll hopefully receive a suitable offer soon.
2. Appointing a conveyancer
The process of conveyancing involves the legal transfer of a property from the current owner to the buyer. It begins when you instruct your solicitor to start preparing the contract pack, something we highly recommend you do at the same time as putting your property on the market. By doing this, it means that when an offer has been accepted your conveyancer can act swiftly and efficiently to provide the buyer with the right information to progress their purchase without unnecessary delays. At Chancellors, we offer a legally prepared conveyancing service that ensures your conveyancer will already be fully up to speed with your requirements, giving them the best opportunity to ensure a fast and smooth sale.
We must note that it is theoretically possible to conduct the conveyancing process yourself, provided you’re not taking out a mortgage. However, given the time and complexity involved, we highly recommend appointing a professional.
If any steps in the conveyancing process are missed or done incorrectly, then major problems can arise once the transaction has been completed. For instance, another party – separate to the current owner – may be found to have an existing interest in the property. Should you encounter problems having performed your own conveyancing, you probably won’t be covered, whereas with a professional you will be protected by their professional insurance.
Many of the forthcoming tasks will be completed by the conveyancer on your behalf. However, you will need to acquire an energy performance certificate when you bring your property to the market – find out more by reading our guide on the cost of selling a house. You also need to create a list of items included in your sale and return it to your chosen conveyancer.
3. Apply for land registry title
At this stage, there will be some back and forth between the two conveyancers (one representing the buyer, the other acting on behalf of the seller). As the seller, your conveyancer will have applied for (or retrieve) your home’s Land Registry title – the legal record of property ownership. For more information on title registers, visit the HM Land Registry site. Your conveyancer will also draft the contract of sale (all done early in the process when you use our Legally Prepared service) and deal with any queries or issues highlighted by the buyer’s conveyancer.
4. Exchange contracts
A simple but hugely significant step in the process of selling a house, at this point the seller will sign the contract and return it to their conveyancer along with funds to pay a deposit for the purchase. Contracts can now be exchanged, representing the moment at which the deal becomes legally binding.
Before contracts are exchanged, neither party is under any legal obligation to buy or sell the property in question. Afterward, any attempt by buyer or seller to pull out will almost certainly lead to significant penalties being imposed (although rest assured that it is extremely unlikely for the sale to collapse at this point).
5. Prepare completion statement
During the course of the transaction, costs will be confirmed to you. Fixed fee services are often offered by conveyancers so you can budget accordingly. Once costs are known, your conveyancer can prepare a completion statement, which details the amount of money you will pay for your sale and purchase to finalise the transaction. This can incorporate some or all of the following, depending on the nature of the sale:
- Agreed purchase price of the property
- Any chattels or other fixtures – such as washing machines and fridges – that are being left for the buyer
- Stamp Duty Land Tax
- Land registration fee
- Solicitor’s fees
- Estate Agency fees
As the seller, you will then be asked to sign the finished completion statement.
6. Make moving arrangements
It’s now time to begin preparing to move house. The complexity of this step will obviously depend on how many possessions you have and how far you’re moving. If you need storage boxes or removal packaging, we offer our customers an exclusive discount from PHS Teacrate and removal services via Pickfords and Go To. You’ll also need to inform your bank, credit and store card companies, utility providers, council tax and other service providers of your new address. The sooner you can do all of this, the better.
7. Completion and moving in
Once your conveyancer confirms that the deal has been completed, you’ll need to arrange for your house keys to be handed over to the buyer. Take meter readings, make a new will, and congratulate yourself for successfully selling your house!
Download our full visual guide to buying or selling a house below. Ready to sell your home? Take the first step by requesting a free, no-obligation property valuation today!
*Our conveyancing service is provided by Lifetime Legal
We also strongly advise sellers to read guides from other sources to ensure they know the process and are equipped to make informed decisions, such as: