Selling a home
A quick guide to moving home safely during this period has been created to help you understand what you, and anyone involved in your move, will need to do to provide a safe environment for everyone.
- the estate or letting agent
- the property lawyer
- the photographer
- the energy assessor
- the valuer or surveyor
- the removal company who move you
- someone helping you organise your mortgage
This guidance is aligned with the UK government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy and advice on home moving during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Selling your home can be stressful, especially if you're buying a home at the same time.
Before you start to look for a buyer, read the government’s how to sell a home guide. This explains the home-selling process.
Get a valuation
You should get your property valued before you decide on the price to ask for. This will help you to decide what your home is worth.
You should ask at least three estate agents for their opinion on your home’s value before deciding on the asking price.
Find a solicitor
Use the quick search option "Houses, property and neighbours" to find your nearest solicitor.
Solicitors whose firms are part of our Conveyancing Quality Scheme meet our high standards of technical expertise and client service.
Select the option “Accredited specialists only” and look out for the Conveyancing Quality Scheme logo.
Before you put your home up for sale, talk to your solicitor.
A solicitor will act in your best interests and protect you if anything goes wrong. It's not worth taking risks – any mistakes could have serious consequences.
Your solicitor will:
- explain how the home-selling process works
- tell you which documents to find to reduce delays during the transaction
- handle the process on your behalf
- give expert advice at every stage
- communicate with the buyer’s solicitor
- resolve any legal issues
Check with a few solicitors to compare the cost of selling your home. You might want to think about:
- the services they offer
- if they are local to you
- their opening hours
- if they can update you online or by text
You should check what costs you’ll have to pay if the sale falls through. Some solicitors charge a fee even if you do not complete the sale.
If the sale is successful, you may need to pay other expenses such as estate agent fees.
You'll need to collect together:
- your identity documents
- proof of your address
- your home’s title documents
- planning permission for any building work
- proof of gas and electrical checks
Your solicitor will help you to complete a TA6 Property Information Form with detailed information about your home.
If you’re selling a freehold home that shares services with other houses, you may have to pay for the rent charge owner, management company, managing agent or their representative to complete an FME1 Freehold Management Enquiries Form.
Gathering all the key documents at this stage will save you time later.
Selling leasehold property
If you’re selling a leasehold home such as a flat, you’ll need to give your solicitor some extra information.
- the number of years left on the lease
- the terms of the lease
- any service charges or ground rent
- any planned building works
Your solicitor will help you to complete a TA7 Leasehold Information Form with detailed information about the property.
You may have to pay for your landlord or managing agents to complete an LPE1 Leasehold Property Enquiries Form.
If the property you’re selling is mortgaged, you’ll need to pay off the rest of the mortgage when you sell your home. This can be paid when you complete the sale.
Speak to your mortgage lender to find out how much is left to pay. There may be extra costs for paying it off early depending on your type of mortgage.
You may want to employ an estate agent to:
- advertise that your home is for sale
- find potential buyers
- negotiate the terms of the sale
You’ll need to give your estate agent the information about your home that you gathered earlier.
You can sell your home without using an estate agent, but this can be time-consuming.
Your estate agent must tell you about every offer made on your home.
Once an offer has been made, take your time to consider it carefully. The offer could be higher or lower than you expected, but you should not feel pressured into accepting it straight away.
Once you’ve accepted an offer, you may want your solicitor to draw up a reservation agreement with the buyer’s solicitor. You do not need to enter into a reservation agreement, but it shows your commitment to the sale.
You should only sign an agreement if you intend to go through with the sale. If the buyer changes their mind before exchanging contracts, they’ll have to pay you compensation.
You do not have to go through with the sale, but you may have to pay the buyer compensation if you change your mind.
Before you exchange contracts, the buyer’s solicitor will carry out searches and make enquiries to find out as much as possible about your home.
The searches will identify issues that could affect the sale, such as legal disputes or planning constraints. Your solicitor may need information from you to answer the buyer’s questions.
The buyer may ask a specialist surveyor to carry out a survey of your home to highlight any problems, such as structural issues or damp.
If the buyer is unhappy with the search or survey results, you may need to carry out repairs or renegotiate the sale price.
Once you and the buyer have agreed to the terms of the sale, you’ll both sign the contracts. Your solicitor will exchange the contract you’ve signed for the contract the buyer has signed with the buyer’s solicitor.
Before exchanging contracts, you and the buyer have the right to decide not to go through with the sale.
If you’ve signed a reservation agreement, there may be financial penalties if you decide against the sale.
After exchanging contracts, the agreement is legally binding. If you pull out of the sale, you could be liable for breach of contract. This means you may have to pay the buyer’s costs and owe them compensation.
Completion takes place when:
- your solicitor receives the purchase money from the buyer’s solicitor
- you move out of the property
- your solicitor agrees to provide the document you’ve signed that transfers ownership to the buyer’s solicitor
Your solicitor will:
- pay off the mortgage
- pay estate agent fees on your behalf
- deduct their own fees
- send you the remaining balance
If your sale is part of a property chain, there could be delays on the day of completion. Your solicitor should keep you up to date and resolve any legal issues.
You must move out of your old home and give the keys to your estate agent for the sale to be completed.
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