Rightmove, the UK's largest property portal boasts that over 90% of all homes for sale in the UK are listed on its site, and the major portals such as Propertyfinder, Primelocation, Globrix and Fish4homes have seen a huge rise in property numbers, particularly since some major site updates in 2006/7.
I've recently launched my own property website, Tepilo.com, which differs from the major portals in that users can upload their own properties for free, without the need for getting an estate agent involved and saving you thousands in the process. Portals such as Rightmove and Globrix will only accept properties from agents, so there are limited places you can advertise your own property effectively.
There is a general perception that selling your home is daunting and incredibly complicated. Of course this isn't the case at all, which is one of the reasons why I launched Tepilo.com.
Here's my step-by-step guide which should help dispel the myth that selling a home can be a minefield...
Valuing property is not an exact science; but be led by the local market...
There is no science to a valuation and once you understand how an estate agent or professional values your home you will be able to see how straightforward it is to do it yourself.
The two ways to value are to find out how much a home like yours recently sold for and/or look at what you can buy at the level you think you should be selling for : ie. if you think your two-bedroom flat should be worth £130,000 but there are lots of three-bedroom houses at a similar level - you are unlikely to achieve your price. Not much science to it really. It's nothing more than keeping a close eye on the local market and to see how much other properties are selling for won't tell you.
Recently I had a valuation of £120,000 from one very large national agent and £250,000 from another for the same property (it ended up selling for £208,000). So if it's all a bit of guesswork you can do a great deal of the same research yourself.
There are an increasing number of online valuation services too such as Propertypriceadvice, Zoopla and Nethouseprices are among these - most of which use data on latest sale prices from the Land Registry or sophisticated algorithms to give predicted valuations based on your answers to sets of logical questions.
The sales process isn't complicated - here are my top tips
1. Home Information Pack (HIP)
If you haven't already got one, legally you must have a HIP (Home Information Pack) before marketing your property or face a fine. There are a number of different suppliers out there, some better than others, search around for the best deal - but a good deal seems to be around £180 in most cases.
You can take photos of your home yourself with a digital camera and upload them or you may decide to pay someone else to take photos, produce a virtual tour, or even film a video for you.
3. Floor plans
You may already have a floor plan that you can use from when you bought the property, or from when you had a planning application submitted. In which case you can upload this document to your home profile. If you don't have a floorplan, there are a range of options from sketching out each floor with measurements, and using a sketch and fax supplier (expect to pay around £20) to a professional floor plan company who will come and measure up and produce one for you (around £45 for properties up to 1,500 sq ft).
4. Lease (for leasehold properties)
Find out the details of the lease if you own a leasehold property. To start with you will need to know how long the lease has left and how much the service charge and ground rent is.
Do you want a sales board outside your home to increase awareness? They are proven to help with marketing, you can design and print your board and have it put up outside your home. Expect to pay around £40 for this.
Do you want to do the viewing yourself or do you have a friend or relative who could do them for you. Alternatively you can pay to use a key holding company who will do the viewings for you. Rates for this vary considerably.
7. Put your home online
Load your details onto your selected portal. Try to be creative here, you really need to make your property stand out. The more photos and information you can give a prospective buyer the better.
Contact your solicitor and let them know you would like to get paperwork in order in preparation for a buyer. If you do not have a solicitor I would suggest you ask family/friends for a recommendation. This is one area I think it is a bit unwise to be money driven.
Your solicitor should send you a fixtures and fittings form and a preliminary enquiries form to fill in. I would suggest you get these filled in and sent back as soon as you can. There may be extra paperwork that needs hunting down i.e. planning permissions, building regulation approval or details of your lease.
When a potential purchaser contacts you, I would recommend that you negotiate with them initially online and do not give out more personal details than you have to, i.e. when you are away on holiday, where you work, whether you live alone, or your personal details.
11. Sale Agreed
Once you have agreed a sale figure you will need to agree exchange and completion dates and swap solicitors details. You then need to instruct your own solicitor giving them all the details of the buyer and sale.
Ask your solicitor to contact the purchaser's solicitor and check they have been instructed and that everyone is in agreement as to dates and details of the sale.
If a mortgage is required, check when the survey is booked in to be carried out. It is at this point that the purchaser will have had to part with some money and so you can be a little bit more confident that the sale should go through.
You may well need to be around to let valuers/surveyors into the property.
Keep chasing your solicitor, asking them to check that the buyer's solicitor has all they require and has put any searches in place.
16. Mortgage offer
Check with the buyer as to when their mortgage offer will be through.
Once both sets of solicitors are happy that all paperwork is in order, a deposit is being held and that the mortgage offer is agreed, your solicitors can exchange contracts. This is done by a phone call between them.
It's important to note that you will need to arrange buildings insurance on your new home from the day of exchange (not completion) as you will be liable in case of any structural damage to the property.
18. Post exchange
Between exchange and completion you will need to arrange removals, contact your energy suppliers and arrange for post to be forwarded.
You move out of the property. The monies are sent to your solicitor who will pay any charges against the property i.e. your mortgage and generally their fees. Any remaining monies will either be used to buy your next home or sent to you directly.
20. Use Tepilo
It's new and innovative, and you can learn about the process for yourself. If you are using an agent then make sure you negotiate on your fee - over 60% of people don't try and drive down their agent commission rate.
Tepilo is an alternative way to buy or sell your home online without fees.
Some people will always prefer to use an estate agent. But for those of you who would like to take control of the sale of your home, often your biggest asset, we have created Tepilo. The site simplifies and explains the whole process which is often perceived as something more complicated than it really is. We are here with all the advice you need to get through the whole process, and of course to save you many thousands of pounds at the same time.
Tepilo is completely free to use - with no charges for uploading your property or commission on the sale.
Tepilo makes it easy for you - the site is packed with advice on buying, selling, or letting your property - including a library of hints and tips that we are constantly updating.
Tepilo provides practical profit enhancing tips - the "profit by design" section lays out ideas on how to design your house to maximise your profit.
Tepilo hosts the negotiation process through the site - you are completely in control of how much they want to offer or accept on a home, but by negotiating on the site, Tepilo gives you more opportunity to get a good deal or hold out for the price you want.
Tepilo encourages the personal touch - using owner descriptions and a magazine style layout, we aim to give buyers much more of an insight into what's great about each property.
Ask Sarah - if you get stuck you can even ask me a question directly through Tepilo, and you may even win a home visit or consultation.
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