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How to sell your property

Full info on how to sell your home quickly

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Sarah G | Edited by Johanna

Updated 6 Jul 2018

Untitled Document

The task of selling your home can feel as big as a house, as there's lots to consider. In this guide we'll tell you how to value your property, explain the true costs when selling, help with choosing an estate agent and share tips to get the maximum price.

This is the first incarnation of this guide. Please give us feedback, suggest improvements and share your tips in the How to sell your house forum thread. Thanks to David Hollingworth from mortgage broker London & Country* for fact-checking the guide.

This guide is all about selling the property you're living in now. If you're looking to sell a buy-to-let property, there may be some tax implications (such as capital gains tax) which we won't run through here. For more information on this, see the HM Revenue & Customs website.

Before thinking about selling... Stop! Are you still in your mortgage term?

If you're still within your existing mortgage term, you'll first need to check what fees you'll be liable to pay by moving. If you're on your lender's standard variable rate (SVR) – the rate your mortgage reverts to when a deal ends – then you're fine, you can think about moving.

If you're buying another property and your mortgage is portable, you're also fine (as long as the lender's happy with the new property and the price and you pass affordability tests). Your existing mortgage moves with you at no extra cost and when that deal comes to an end, you can remortgage on your new property – see our Porting your mortgage guide.

But if it's not portable, you may face early repayment charges that are often about 1-5% of the remainder of your mortgage debt, making moving very expensive.

For example, early repayment charges of 2% on a £226,000 property would be £4,520.

So first find out how long you've left on your current deal and how much it'll cost to free yourself – see our 'Ditch your fix?' calculator. If it would be too expensive, it's worth holding off and ensuring you're ready to go as soon as the deal ends. For more on fees, see the Remortgaging Cost guide.

Spruce up your home to max the price

tidy home

Even the best-kept properties show signs of wear and tear. So before you do anything else, it's best to sort these out to give yourself the best chance of selling your property ASAP for the maximum price.

Up your property's appeal from the outside

Sort out the interior of the property

However, make sure you do your sums first...

  • How much should I spend on improvements?

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Get your home valued

value of home

Once you've got your property looking its best, you need to get it valued. It's imperative to research thoroughly at this stage as getting it wrong could leave your home on the market for a long time, or it could sell way below the market price.

1. Check online first to get a rough figure

Before you get an agent through the door, check sold house prices in the past 12 months with online agents such as Nethouseprices, Rightmove and Zoopla to give you a rough idea- see our Free house price valuations guide for more.

Compare your property to those of a similar size and spec. You can do this pretty accurately with Rightmove, which shows the original house adverts (including photos) at the point of sale. Be realistic and don't let stubborn pride about the state of your property cloud your judgement and lead to overpricing.

Having a clear idea of sales in the recent past helps you value your home accurately. Looking at those currently on sale helps you value your home competitively. Remember, very few properties sell for the asking price – hopefully yours will go for more, but don't be disappointed if it sells for less.

2. Get estate agents in for an estimate

Once you've done your own research, have at least three agents value your home (never reveal the values other agents have given as it could skew their answer). Don't worry if you don't want to use an estate agent for the actual sell – you're not committed to using any of them.

To get the most balanced view, it is worth asking different types of agents for valuations: a big high street chain, a small local one and an online one. And get them to bring paperwork on sold prices in the surrounding area.

It's perfectly normal for valuations to be diverse. MSE Jo N said the highest and lowest values she received differed by a whopping £100k. In cases like that, opting for something in the middle should give you the most sensible option.

If agent 1 values your property at £200,000, agent 2 at £230,000 and agent 3 at £300,000, the most realistic value would be £250,000.

Quick tips:

Ensure you price it realistically

Consider factors that affect the asking price

Find out the situation of the buyer

Decide how to sell your property

There's no right or wrong way to sell your property; the best way will depend on your circumstances. For example, if you're time-poor or don't feel comfortable showing strangers round your home by yourself, it may be best to get an estate agent to do it for you – even if it does come at a higher price.

However, if you're perfectly happy doing most of the work yourself, you can bypass an estate agent all together and save yourself some serious cash.

Online vs high street agent

If you don't need your hand held, it's worth doing as much as you can yourself – MSE Amy reckons she saved over £5,500 by using an online agent and DIY-ing the rest.

I want someone to do it for me – high street estate agents

high street agent

Despite online estate agents becoming more popular over recent years, high street estate agents are still used 94% of the time. In general, their services are more complete, with energy performance certificates (EPCs) and hosted viewings included as standard. But...

Traditional high street agents are much pricier than online agents. However, you only pay a percentage of the agreed sale price – typically 0.75% to 3% – once the property has been sold, so you don't lose money if the property doesn't sell.

Find out which are the busiest and most experienced agents nearby, check the local paper if you have one in your area and go online to see which agents have the most listings. Ask them how many properties they've sold in your area over the past three months and what they charge.

Personal recommendations are always valuable and having a presence on the high street also means potential buyers will see your property advertised in the window.

Quick tips:

Try haggling to cut costs

Consider using multiple agents

I need a bit of hand-holding – online estate agents

online agent

If you're happy to do some of the legwork yourself, using an online agent could be a cheaper option. Online agents charge a one-off, upfront fee of between £99 and £1,695 – which means you could make a saving of more than £6,000 over traditional high street agents if selling a property priced at the UK average of £226,000.

Of course, exactly how much you save depends on the size of your property etc.

Quick tips:

Watch out for extra fees

Check reviews before choosing an agent

You'll have to host the viewing or pay extra

Who are the major online agents?

Here's a rundown of some of the top online players at the moment in alphabetical order:

Cheapest but not well known

Doorsteps

AgeUK

Not the most well known, but by far the cheapest online estate agent, Doorsteps says it covers 95% of the UK. It offers a 24-hour hotline, free property valuation, property site listings, an account manager and weekly reports as part of its £99 'basic' package.

The local agent will carry out the initial valuation and, if you choose the 'complete' package, take the photos, draw up the floor plan and send a draft of the ad by the next working day. It doesn't have an app.

Fee: Basic package £99. The second option costs £199 and also includes professional photos, 2D floor plan and full property description. An energy performance certificate (EPC) costs an additional £72. The priciest package costs £599 and includes a for sale sign and premium site listings.

The ad: Appears on all major property sites including Rightmove and Zoopla. Remains up until the property is sold or taken down by the seller. Can be reinstated for free up to four weeks after being taken down.

Hosted viewings? £400 for unlimited. Or £60 for assisted viewings (you're there too), or £100 per hour for an open house.

For sale sign? Not included on standard packages. £60 extra.

Contact: www.doorsteps.co.uk, 0208 012 8566, instant online chat.

Well-known online agent with pay-later option

eMoov*

AgeUK

eMoov may be one you've heard of, but since it recently rebranded you may not recognise it as much. Its basic package – the 'Up Front Saver' – includes a 12-month ad on the major property sites, a for sale sign and a property expert who'll do the initial valuation, photos, floor plan and manage the entire sale.

If you can't pay upfront, you can defer your payment (for a price), but you will have to pay even if you don't sell after six months. It doesn't have an app.

Fee: Up Front Saver package, £895 (£995 in London). Pay When Sold package £1,995 for six-month ad (meaning you pay this even if you don't sell after six months). An EPC costs an additional £59 + VAT.

The ad: Appears on all major property sites including Rightmove, Zoopla and Prime Location. Remains up until the property is sold or for six or 12 months (depending on your package), whichever's soonest. Ad can be taken down and reinstated for free within the months you've paid for.

Hosted viewings? Free, provided eMoov has an agent in your area.

For sale sign? Included.

Contact: www.emoov.co.uk, 0333 121 4950.

'No sale, no fee' only available package

Housesimple

AgeUK

Housesimple is at the more expensive end of the scale, and covers the whole of the UK. It no longer offers an up front package, instead just featuring a no sale, no fee package for £995, which includes a property expert, for sale sign, professional photos, floor plan and six-month ad on two property sites.

This package could be good if you're just testing the water selling your property, however, it's an expensive option if you do choose it and manage to sell your property – there are other cheaper agents. There's no app, but Housesimple told us one is in the pipeline.

Fee: No sale, no fee package, £995. EPCs cost an additional £90.

The ad: Rightmove and Zoopla listings included, though it's an extra £195 for Primelocation. Remains up until the property is sold or for six months, whichever's sooner.

Hosted viewings? £35 per viewing or £295 unlimited.

For sale sign? Included.

Contact: www.housesimple.com, 0333 920 7098.

Most well known – but most expensive

Purplebricks*

Purplebricks

Perhaps the most well known of the lot, Purplebricks is also the most expensive. It covers the whole of the UK and is the only online agent we found that has its own app, available on iOS and Android. The package includes a property expert to cover the sale from start to finish, professional photos, floor plan, full description, ads on all major property sites and a for sale sign.

Fee: Up Front and Pay When Sold packages cost £849 (or £1,199 in London and surrounding areas). Premium listings on site (meaning you'll show up in more searches, have more thumbnail photos on your listing and appear in a green box at the top) cost £125 extra. If paying when sold, you must use Purplebricks' own conveyancing service.

The ad: Appears on all major property sites including Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation. Remains up until the property is sold. If you've opted for deferred payment, you must pay after 10 months, even if the property's not sold, but the ad will remain up.

Hosted viewings? £300 unlimited.

For sale sign? Included.

Contact: www.purplebricks.co.uk, 0800 810 8008.

See our forumites' discussion on using online agents.

I want to do it all myself – private selling

private selling

While it's probably the most labour-intensive option, private selling would give you the biggest savings.

One downside to private selling is that you can't advertise on Zoopla, Primelocation or Rightmove, so unless you already have a private buyer lined up, you need to advertise your property yourself. Use your local press if possible and noticeboards and/or online marketplaces such as HouseWeb (£195-£395) or The House Shop* (free), where you can create your own advert and liaise directly with buyers.

You could even try your luck on Facebook – especially if you're a member of a local network – or post an ad on Mumsnet via your 'local' page, and adding a thread. If you've any questions, you can email Mumsnet for help.

You'll need to host your own viewings, but this can tip the scales in your favour. You're the expert in your own home so can tell prospective buyers exactly what it's like to live there. However, don't ignore the safety risk of inviting strangers into your home. If you'll be conducting the viewings alone, tell a neighbour or friend first so they're aware and call them once you're done.

To maximise your home's visibility, it's worth putting up a for sale sign. We found a decent selection of ready-made signs and those you can personalise on eBay and Amazon*, ranging from £15 to £30.

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Find a reliable solicitor or conveyancer

Conveyancing is the legal process that sees the transfer of a property from one person to another, and requires a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer.

Solicitors and conveyancers are fully qualified and insured to handle house sales. They do all the legal paperwork, Land Registry and council searches, draft the contract and handle the exchange of money. The primary difference is that conveyancers are specialist property lawyers.

You don't have to go with the solicitor or conveyancer your estate agent suggests – they'll most likely have some kind of commercial arrangement in place which could end up costing you more.

How much do they cost?

Fees for solicitors and conveyancers vary. According to the Homeowners' Alliance, they can cost between £500 and £1,500 for the legal fees alone.

On top of this you will have to pay for:

  • Title deeds – proof you own the property, normally held by the Land Registry (£25)
  • Property fraud fee – protects your property from being sold or mortgaged fraudulently (£10)
  • Transferring ownership – a fee paid to the Land Registry on completion (£200-£300)
  • Bank or telegraphic transfer (CHAPS) – unless you're remortgaging with the same lender, your funds are transferred to your bank (£20-£30)
  • Money-laundering checks – checking the buyers are who they say they are (£8 per person)
  • Searches – to check whether there are any local plans for development or problems (£250)

Ask your solicitor or conveyancer for a full breakdown of costs to check what's included in the quote and compare prices.

To speed up the long process of selling your property, it's worth lining up a solicitor before you put it on the market.

Like with estate agents, you can now go online for conveyancing services. They market themselves as cheaper than their high street counterparts, but most likely you won't have a single point of contact as many run a call centre-type service.

Check reviews of online and high street conveyancers and solicitors and if you know someone who's moved in the past year, ask them if they'd recommend their solicitor. It's important to hire someone you're happy to work with as you'll most likely have a lot of contact with them. Going with a bad solicitor could really slow down the selling process and risk a sale, so it's worth doing your research.

See our House Buying guide for more on finding cheap conveyancers.

Other costs involved with selling a property

There's more to selling your home than valuations and estate agents. Regardless of whether you sell with an agent or privately, you must have a solicitor or licensed conveyancer REP and an energy performance certificate (EPC). You may also need removal services once it's time to vacate the property.

All this can add up – see below some estimates of cost:

Average cost of selling your home based on £226,000 property (table correct as of March '18)
Private selling Online agent High street agent
Agency fees £0 - £395 £99 - £1,695 £2,034 - £8,136
Conveyancing fee £500 - £1,500 £500 - £1,500 £500 - £1,500
EPC £35 - £120 £35 - £120 £35 - £120
Removals £400 - £1,200 £400 - £1,200 £400 - £1,200
TOTAL £935 - £3,215 £1,034 - £4,515 £2,969 - £10,956

Of course, if you're selling your property to buy another one, there will be additional associated costs.

Energy performance certificates (EPCs)

epc bulb

An energy performance certificate (EPC) rates a building on its energy efficiency, from A (highly efficient) to G (inefficient). Each certificate is valid for 10 years.

Prospective buyers look for efficient energy ratings as poor ratings mean costly heating bills, which range from A to D. See our Housing and Energy Grants guide to find free cash to improve your home's efficiency before you sell.

Don't know if your EPC's in date? Check the EPC Register.

Removals

removal van

When you're ready to look at removals, the wheels of selling your home will now fully be in motion and soon, so too will your belongings. As the average cost can be anything from £500 upwards, you could save yourself a hefty chunk by DIY-ing if you can.

Factors that affect the price of removals include:

  • Size of van (volume of belongings)
  • Distance between pick-up and destination
  • Time of day and time of year
  • Who does the packing (you or removal firm)
  • Packing materials
  • Special and/or fragile items
  • Restricted access/difficult entry

Get a few firms to give you quotes then ask your chosen firm to break down the costs so you can check if there are ways you could save, such as doing the packing yourself.

Final bills

Final energy and water bills can come as a bit of a nasty shock, especially if you've been on estimated bills. If your energy firm has underestimated your usage, you could get hit with a hefty bill. Keep a record of your final gas and electricity readings, and always have a contingency fund for instances like this.

And don't forget niggly extras like redirecting your post, which costs £34.

Selling to buy a property

If you're selling your property to move abroad or rent, you're all done and dusted. But for those of you selling to buy another property, to be taken seriously, you need to get your current property on the market, pronto!

The most attractive buyers (in order) for your property are: first-time buyers, those who've already sold, followed by those who've got their property on the market.

In terms of selling one property and buying another, the process usually pans out like this:

  1. Look at areas/properties you like
  2. Go to visit some
  3. Find one you like
  4. Realise you won't be taken seriously unless your home is on the market
  5. Rush to get your home on the market
  6. Simultaneously look at properties while people look at yours
  7. Hopefully have an offer accepted on yours so you can...
  8. ... place an offer on the one you like

In our Buying a Property Timeline guide, you'll see that buying a new property can usually take anything from six weeks to eight months, so be sure to factor that in.

Unsurprisingly, as well as being incredibly stressful, bear in mind that buying a property is very costly – and not just the selling costs mentioned above (if you're selling to buy somewhere else). The charges include:

  • Mortgage fees – Arrangement/booking fee (£0 - £2,500) and exit fees, early repayment and new home loan charges. See our Porting your mortgage guide for a full breakdown.
  • Deposit for the new property – See our Mortgage Deposit Calculator.
  • Surveys/valuation fee – Homebuyer's report, full structural or snagging, £400 - £700 (depending on survey type). Valuation is for lenders to check how much your property is worth, £300 - £400. This varies by lender and property value and is for the lender's purposes only. You can generally upgrade to a homebuyer's survey, or you could go for a full structural survey.
  • Searches – Local, drainage and environmental searches check to see if there's anything you need to be aware of, such as building control issues or nearby road schemes.
  • Solicitor/conveyancing fees – covers all the legal work associated with buying a house, £500 - £1,500.
  • Stamp duty – Payable to the Government on properties over £125,000. See Stamp Duty Calculator for full details.
  • Bank transfer – £25 - £30.
  • Land Registry fee – To transfer its register entry into your name, up to £500.

For anything else you may have forgotten (or blocked out) since you bought your current property, see our 50+ House Buying Tips guide.

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