What Are The Costs Of Selling A House UK?
For most homeowners, selling their property is a major life event and a big decision. Your home isn’t just four walls – it’s where you’ve built memories with your family and watched your children grow up. Letting go can be difficult emotionally, not to mention the practical considerations of finding a new place to live and the process of moving. However, sometimes circumstances change and it becomes necessary to sell your house. This could be due to a new job in another part of the country, upsizing or downsizing your living space as your family dynamic shifts, or even retirement and wanting to move somewhere new.
Once you’ve made the decision to sell, it’s time to start preparing your property to go on the market. But first, it’s important to have realistic expectations when it comes to valuation and understand all the costs associated with selling a home in the UK. This will allow you to make informed choices and avoid any surprises down the line.
Getting an Accurate Property Valuation
Before putting your house up for sale, it’s crucial to get an accurate idea of its current market value. After all, you want to price it correctly to attract buyers. Many homeowners simply look at prices of comparable properties in their area to determine their asking price. However, this often leads to over- or under-valuing.
To get a true valuation, it’s advisable to have two or three estate agents come and assess your property. They will look at various factors like size, location, number of bedrooms/bathrooms and condition. Be sure to mention any recent renovations or extensions which could increase value. The agents can use their experience and knowledge of the local market to suggest a realistic asking price.
You may choose to go with the agent who provides the highest valuation. However, be wary of agents who over-inflate, as this could mean your property sits on the market for longer. Setting an asking price too high can also lead to offers significantly under your expectations.
Getting your home valued by an estate agent is typically free of charge. But for a more in-depth valuation, you could also hire an independent surveyor. They can carry out a detailed inspection and produce a RICS ‘Red Book’ valuation report.
Preparing Your Home for Viewings
Once you’ve settled on an asking price, the next step is preparing your property to appeal to potential buyers. It needs to look attractive and tidy so buyers can envision it as their own future home.
Decluttering and Deep Cleaning
Prospective property buyers want to easily imagine how their own furniture and belongings would fit into the space. So declutter each room by sorting through items and removing any excess. Store these offsite or in boxes neatly packed away. Then do a deep clean of the entire property – clear cobwebs, scrub surfaces and clean windows until everything is spotless. A sparkling clean house creates a great first impression.
Interior Cosmetic Improvements
Small upgrades and fixes can significantly boost your home’s appeal at viewings. Freshly paint or wallpaper to neutral, modern colours and replace any damaged wall plasterwork. Update light fixtures and fittings for more energy efficiency. Replace tatty, and old carpets and re-grout bathroom tiles if needed. Fix creaky doors, dripping taps and any minor repairs. These cosmetic improvements make the property seem well-cared for.
Kerb appeal is also very important for attracting buyers. Tidy up the front garden – mow the lawn, trim hedges and plant colourful flowers. Wash down patio areas and add potted plants. Paint or treat outdoor fences, gates, doors and window frames if weathered. Ensure the roof, guttering and exterior brickwork are in good repair. A well-maintained exterior suggests the house as a whole has been looked after.
Great photos in property listings grab buyer’s attention online. Hire a professional estate photographer to take high-quality shots that showcase your home in the best light. They know techniques like using wide-angle lenses and natural lighting to make rooms appear larger. Photograph at different times of day for a variety of looks. Also, take shots focused on attractive features like fireplaces or bathrooms.
Have floor plans professionally drawn up showing room sizes and layouts. These give buyers a better sense of how they could utilise the space.
Empty for Viewings
Schedule viewings once you have moved out. It’s easier for buyers to appreciate the space when rooms are empty. If unable to move out in advance, do your best to minimise clutter and furniture during viewings.
Be Flexible with Viewing Times
Maximum exposure means being as flexible as possible with viewing times. In the evenings and weekends, if necessary, to suit buyer schedules. This increases foot traffic through your property.
Understand Legal Obligations
As a seller, you must provide clear, accurate information about your property. This includes details of boundaries, any planning restrictions, work done without consent, and any other material facts affecting value. Otherwise, buyers can sue for misrepresentation after completion of the sale. A thorough marketing report from your estate agent helps cover all bases. But be upfront about any issues early on to avoid legal complications down the line.
Choosing the Right Estate Agent
Picking the right estate agent to market your property is a hugely important decision. A good agent has extensive local knowledge plus the skills and marketing resources to get buyers through the door. Here are some tips for choosing wisely:
- Ask friends and neighbours for recommendations of agents who did a great job selling in your area.
- Search online reviews to get insight into different agents’ strengths and weaknesses.
- Look for an agent who is well-established in your local market and accredited with a professional body like The Property Ombudsman scheme. This provides protection should any disputes arise.
- Consider smaller independent agents rather than just the big national chains – the agent who valved your home may not necessarily be the best one to sell it.
- Interview several agents and compare their valuations – but make sure these are realistic and not inflated simply to win your business.
- Ask what their marketing strategy would be for your property – do they have good relationships with local media and advertising channels?
- Enquire about their average time on the market – a quicker sale means lower costs for you.
- Negotiate their fee percentage – typically 1-3%. Many reduce this after a certain number of weeks if the property hasn’t sold.
- Go with whoever you feel will work hardest in your interests to achieve the best price possible.
For the right agent, selling your property quickly and efficiently will be their top priority.
How Estate Agent Fees Work
Once you’ve appointed an estate agent to handle the sale, you’ll need to pay their fees. But how exactly are these calculated and when are they charged?
There are two common commission structures:
- Upfront Fixed Fee
A one-off fee is charged as soon as you instruct the agent, depending on property value. You then pay an agreed percentage of the final sale price.
- No Upfront Fee
The full fee is charged only on completion as a percentage of the sale price.
With option one, you pay the fixed element regardless of whether the property sells or not. However, your final percentage commission may be slightly lower.
When comparing agents’ fees, calculate how much you would pay in total with each if you sold at your asking price. No-win, no-fee agreements are also sometimes offered if the property fails to sell. Always read the small print so you know exactly what’s expected.
Some key questions to ask about fees:
- Do they impose additional charges for marketing or accompanied viewings?
- How will the fee change if the sale price is lower than the asking price?
- Is the percentage negotiable depending on the final sale figure?
Being clear on fees from the outset avoids nasty surprises when it comes to completion.
Other Professionals You’ll Need to Pay
Beyond the estate agent’s fees, selling a property involves paying several other professionals for their services:
Surveyor’s Valuation Report – Depending on property value and extent of inspection. Aim to get this done when you first consider selling so you have an accurate idea of your worth from the outset.
Solicitor/Conveyancer Fees – Essential for handling all the legal aspects of transferring ownership from you to the buyer. Get quotes from a few local firms before instructing.
Mortgage Redemption Administration Fee – If you have an outstanding mortgage that needs repaying from the sale proceeds. Your lender charges this.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – Required by law to show a property’s energy efficiency rating on all listings. Valid for 10 years.
Removal Company – Costs vary widely based on the volume of belongings, distance transported etc. Get quotes from several firms in advance so you can budget accordingly.
Though selling privately without an estate agent avoids their commission, you would still need to pay solicitors and for an EPC yourself. Plus you must have the time and knowledge to handle viewings, negotiations and paperwork. For most, hiring a good agent makes the process smoother.
Be Prepared for Negotiations
Once buyers start viewing your property, offers may not necessarily meet your asking price at first. In the current market, potential buyers often expect some negotiation room on price. Be prepared for this by researching sold prices of comparable properties so you know what is realistic in your area.
Consider offers carefully – if they seem reasonably close to market value and you need to sell within a certain timeframe, it may be in your interests to accept and avoid your property sitting unsold for many more weeks or months. However, never feel pressured into accepting an offer you are truly unhappy with. You can always come back with a higher counteroffer until a figure is reached that suits both parties.
Remain realistic and flexible. Chasing every last penny could cost you in the long run if a fair offer is on the table. A quick, certain sale is often the better financial outcome.
Don’t Forget Home Insurance During Sale Period
As soon as you start marketing your property, inform your home insurer it is up for sale. Request unoccupied home cover which protects against break-ins, weather damage etc if sitting vacant between your moving out and new owners moving in.
Not having adequate cover could derail a sale if issues arise during this period.
Capital Gains Tax Implications
For many, the most unwelcome cost when selling is capital gains tax. Some costs like solicitors fees and stamp duty can be deducted when calculating the gain amount.
There are exemptions if the property was your main residence throughout ownership, or if moving into care etc. But complex rules apply so seeking professional tax advice is wise to determine what you may owe.
Leaving your home of many happy years will never be easy. However, being aware of all the costs involved allows you to budget realistically and avoid any painful surprises. With the right research and advice, you can achieve a sale price you are comfortable with and move on to an exciting new chapter!
Selling your home can be an emotional rollercoaster, but understanding all the potential costs well in advance helps you make the best decisions along the way. From paying for professional valuations, marketing and photography to conveyancing, removals and repairs, many expenses mount up. Factor these into your expectations and budget. With the right estate agent guiding you through negotiations, legalities and property preparation, you can achieve a successful sale at a fair price. Though letting go is difficult, the proceeds can help fund your next property purchase or new lifestyle. With the costs weighed up and practicalities handled, selling your house can become an exciting move towards positive change, rather than a draining experience. The memories within those walls go with you.