As with buying a house, selling can be done in several ways.
Especially if time is not of the essence, some people advertise their properties in the newspapers and succeed in selling privately.
There are problems when one does sell privately but the prospect of saving the fee payable to an estate agent is spur enough for many to try to go it alone. You should bear in mind, though, that in choosing a purchaser you may be forced to ask him embarrassing questions relating to his financial standing. Do not forget either that agents can be very helpful to prospective purchasers in finding a mortgage. Also, most agents provide a free valuation and it you err in valuing the house this can all too easily offset the advantage of not having to pay an agent’s fee. You may, in fact, undervalue it very substantially if you have not made a really close study of the property market.
Many agents, in addition to the safeguards mentioned above, are also members of recognized professional societies and those who are must conform to a strict code of conduct in the interests of both seller and the buyer. Also, the Director General of Fair Trading will be able to prohibit an estate agent from engaging in business if the Director General considers there are grounds for considering the agent unfit to do so.
It can be advantageous to give one agent sole responsibility for selling for a short period of say one or two months, after which you can always bring in further agents if a purchaser has not been found. Some agents offer a reduction in then-charges for the privilege of sole agency and will obviously have more incentive to make a special effort, knowing that they are not in direct competition with other agents. Fees normally vary between \ and I per cent of the final house price but, since the abolition of scale fees, one has to shop around to find the best available deal. The fee is normally payable when a purchaser has been found and the sale has been completed. Be very careful about signing 40 any document concerning the fee, and about advertising costs. If the property is to be advertised in the national press the agent may require an extra fee. Always establish at the outset what advertising the agent is planning to do within the scope of his fee.
Most estate agents will visit the house to take details, including measurements of all rooms. From this they will draw up a detailed description, often with a photograph, which they will circulate to potential buyers. They will also usually present the property in their regular advertisement in the local paper.
PUTTING THE HOUSE ON SHOW
Whether you decide to sell privately or through an agent, you will obviously want to make the house look its best for potential purchasers. A few hours spent clearing up and making sure the garden appears presentable will make your property look more desirable.
Remember, there is nothing more frustrating for a prospective buyer than to call by appointment to see the property and then not be able to gain admittance. Try to make sure that someone responsible is always there to let people in and show them around. This applies to evenings and weekends too, as many would-be buyers can only call at such times.
When showing potential purchasers around give clear, concise answers to avoid misunderstanding. Evasiveness may cover up a small fault but is likely to lead to acrimony and trouble at later stages of the transaction.
Once someone has made a firm offer for the house you should take it offthe market. If other people still want to look over the property, you can let them do so but you should make it quite clear that the house is already ‘under offer’ and that the best you can do is to give the latecomers ‘first refusal’ should the original buyer drop out prior to exchange of contracts.
THE LEGAL PROCESS
Flaving agreed a price with your buyer, you should notify your solicitor so that work can begin on the preparation of contracts. You should be ready to answer any questions which the purchaser’s solicitors may ask. Once the investigations and enquiries have been carried out, you will be required to sign the.contract ready for the next stage which is the exchange of contracts.
From contract exchange to completion
Once contracts have been exchanged, the period before completion is a busy time for the vendor. The water, gas and electricity suppliers together with the British Telecom for the telephone and the rates authority will have to be contacted so that accounts can be obtained and settled up to date of completion. If you have paid an account for a period which extends beyond the completion date then you can forward the relevant receipts to your solicitor who can arrange for an apportionment and refund to be made at the time of completion.
If the property is held on a long lease, the last receipt for the ground rent and service charges must be forwarded to your solicitor who will usually need to produce this for the purchaser’s solicitors.
Your solicitor will at this time be answering any queries he may be asked by the buyer’s solicitor relating to the title. Your responsibility will be to make removal arrangements in good time.