The selling process
Here is our guide to selling a property with Whitton & Laing. Scroll to the bottom for our moving checklist, for the tasks in the final two weeks!
Once you’ve decided that you’d like to offer your property for sale, call your local office of Whitton & Laing estate agents. We have offices in Exeter and Exmouth covering Budleigh Salterton and Sidmouth so have East Devon well covered (see contact details).
We’ll agree a time with you for our property valuer to visit your property. Taking into account your aspirations over timescales and the sort of figure you’d like to achieve for your property, our valuer will suggest a figure at which to start marketing your property, backed up with examples of similar nearby properties which have been on the market.
The decision to proceed or not, and when, is entirely yours. At no time will there be any pressure from us to put your house on the market – it’s a big decision and the timing needs to be right for you, and you alone.
PREPARING FOR MARKETING
If and when you decide to offer your property for sale, we will arrange a time to take good photographs, and if appropriate we can organise a professional photographer to visit.
TIP: Good photographs are vital if we are to attract good interest in your property and we take great care to capture the best images possible. It is therefore a good idea to make sure that your rooms are as clutter-free as possible prior to the photography day, and if you have any large items that you can live without, it’s often a good idea to put them in storage while you are selling.
We’ll also draw up a floorplan and, if you don’t have a valid one, an energy performance certificate (EPC), which is required by law to be commissioned before marketing can begin.
TIP: If you are planning to redecorate, we recommend doing so in neutral colours. If there are any structural defects to the property which might have a significant negative effect on the sale later on, it would be worth considering getting these sorted out now.
We then put these things, together with the description and location details into our unique property details, for your approval prior to marketing.
We also aim for all relevant negotiators to view your property so they’re fully briefed and conversant with it when buyer interest grows.
TIP: Legal advice is also important when selling a home, so we recommend you also consult with your solicitor to confirm the length of time left on your lease (if a leasehold), whether you have planning permission for roof terraces, loft spaces or internal changes to the property. It’s also a good idea to pre-warn your solicitor that you are planning to sell, so they’re ready to act for you once an offer is accepted.
Once you have approved your property details for marketing we will email all buyers on our database looking for a property like yours, and telephone the really keen ones. We will upload your property to our website and the many other sites on which we advertise (find out more).
We’ll also ensure that it is marketed by the other members of the "Experts in property" network and the Distinctly Westcountry network (find out more), and will prepare our unique high quality property brochures for circulating and for taking on viewings.
After a few days we would hope to have viewings booked for your property. We will always call you before a viewing to check that it is convenient, and will never come round unannounced – even if it’s a spur of the moment thing.
TIP: It is a good idea to let us have a set of keys, which we of course keep securely, so that we can bring around potential buyers if you are out, or prefer to be so. Please make sure we’re briefed on any alarm systems or pets!
We normally accompany potential buyers on viewings, for your security, but also so we can explain any benefits not immediately obvious, and be there to counter any objections or worries. This also makes for a relaxed and frequently more productive viewing.
Following a viewing, we will call the potential buyer to hear their thoughts, and counter any arguments. We’ll regularly contact you with an update on progress, and discuss any changes that may necessary, and you will be able to log-in to your secure page on this website to check progress and view the feedback we’ve gathered from viewers.
People who show interest usually want a second viewing: sometimes it is useful for the property’s current owners to be there to answer any more detailed questions; but equally it can be useful for the property to be vacated, so they can more fully imagine themselves living there. Your negotiator will advise on what is best in your instance.
AGREEING THE SALE
Hopefully it will not be too long before we receive an offer from a potential buyer, and we will call you to get your reaction. As a rule we’ll always push for the maximum we think the market will bear – we’re very adept at this, and rarely recommend you take the first offer.
TIP: Although the ‘price’ is often the most important part of the offer for many sellers, it is worth also weighing up other factors such as how well your timescales match the buyers’, and whether they are in a chain of other sales & purchases (the longer the chain, the more risk that a link will break, potentially causing the breakage of all other transactions in that chain).
However, once an offer is agreed, we will contact all parties’ solicitors to inform them of the sale and confirm each party’s details.
Hopefully you will already have instructed your solicitors by this point, meaning they have all the necessary documentation in place and are ready to act for you. If you need help finding one, please get in touch as we can advise on the best solicitors in the area, having dealt with them all at some point!
Your buyers will want to carry out a survey of some sort, or at very least their mortgage provider will want to carry out their own valuation. Neither is anything to worry about, and you needn’t take any special measures at this point. Most surveys are visual only, and will not involve any disruption.
The buyers’ solicitor will also carry out a local authority search for any planning applications that have been made in your immediate vicinity that could affect your property.
You solicitor will also ask other things from you, including:
- fixtures and fittings: what is to be included in the sale, what isn’t and what is for sale at extra cost
- title deeds: which will be held either by you, or by the solicitor who handled your property's purchase
- disputes: whether there are any relating to the property, such as those with neighbours
- boundaries: to define the exact boundaries of the property and who has responsibility for the maintenance of hedges and fences. Arguments over boundaries sometimes even escalate to court cases between neighbours, so it is important to establish this now
- planning constraints and permissions: whether any additions or alterations that have been made to the property have met local planning requirements and that building regulation consent was received
- rights of way: checking that there is no right of way or footpath through the property, and on shared rights of access with a neighbour such as a garden or driveway
- restrictive covenants: whether the deeds specify that certain things are forbidden, for example keeping pets, or specific colours in which the house must be painted
- guarantees or insurance policies: for example whether the property is covered by the NHBC guarantee or the wood-rot treatment guarantee
- services: whether the property's utilities (gas, water, electricity) reach it via a neighbour's property or are shared with a neighbour
If the property is a leasehold, they will ask for the name of the managing agent, the freeholder and whether you are up-to-date with ground rent and service charges.
KEEPING THE SALE ON COURSE
The conveyancing process is a complex and sometimes frustrating one, with much of the work taking place behind closed doors, and many solicitors being somewhat ‘traditional’ in their use of communication technology! (That said, the solicitors we recommend have been chosen in part because of the strength of client communication).
During this part of the transaction, your Whitton & Laing negotiator will regularly chase all parties in your chain to ensure that it completes, and on time.
EXCHANGE OF CONTRACTS
Exchanging contracts is the moment when the sale becomes legally binding on both sides.
If you are also buying a property, the proceeds of your sale, once any outstanding mortgage debt has been repaid, will usually form the deposit on your purchase, and therefore you may not in this case have to actually forward any sum to your solicitor for the deposit for your purchase.
Exchange of contracts usually happens on the phone, when both parties’ solicitors agree that they can ‘exchange contracts’. Your solicitor will tell you and us when contracts have been exchanged.
Completion, when your property sale is finalised – the moment you’ve waited for! Your solicitor will contact you and us when the buyer’s mortage lender’s money has cleared and we will then release keys to the buyers, and the property will be theirs.
If any balance of monies are owed to you from your sale, your solicitor will transfer them into your bank account.
Here is a list of things that you may need to do before moving day:
2-4 WEEKS BEFORE MOVING DAY
- ask at least three removal companies for a quote - we can recommend some if you like
- arrange mail-forwarding with Royal Mail
- if you need hotel accommodation during your move, book it well in advance
THE LAST COUPLE OF DAYS – change of address
Shortly before you move, we will contact you about a free change-of-address service: www.iammoving.com/propertysharingexperts. By using this link you can inform any of the 1500 organisations listed with them that you are moving home. Here are some of those you may need to think about:
- utilities – take meter readings on the last day
- mobile phone company
- council tax office
- TV licensing (www.tvlicensing.co.uk)
- driving licence – complete the form on the back of your paper part of your licence
- vehicle keeper details – complete the relevant section on your V5 document
- insurance companies
- life, critical illness, health
- house & contents
- bank/s or building societies and credit card companies
- Inland Revenue (www.hmrc.gov)
- any schools
- charity subscriptions
- cancel any newsagent or milk deliveries
- your friends and family
AND DON’T FORGET…
- to pack separately anything you’ll need quick access to – clothing, medicines, toiletries, paperwork, mobile phone charger
- to pack a snack box of food, milk, tea bags and drinks for moving day – very important!
- and finally, if you didn’t like our service, tell us; if you did, tell your friends!
Selling with knowhow...