You may have already made up your mind that you are going to sell your home, but before you begin the process there are a number of things you need to consider.
Of course, no house sale is as simple as putting up a sign and waiting for the offers to come rolling in – there are legal obligations you must fulfil, as well as things that you should consider if you want to get as much money as possible for your home.
1. Figure out your finances
First and foremost you need to know what you can afford, or if it even makes financial sense to move at all.
You should notify your mortgage lender that you are planning to sell your home, and they can inform you how much is outstanding and what penalties there may be for early redemption.
It is also worth seeking advice around what size mortgage you will need for houses in your desired price bracket and get an idea of what lenders may be willing to offer you.
Remember, it is also possible to take your existing mortgage to your new home.
Everything at this stage will be approximate only, but it is better to have an idea what is affordable from the start rather than entering the buying process effectively blind.
2. Ensure you have all the correct paperwork
There are some documents that you need to have by law and others that will make it easier for the buyer, but the more information you can gather, the quicker things will move along.
You should have the property title deeds, as well as the details and floorplans from when you bought the house. Any building regulation certificates, planning permission certificates and electrical certificates are also handy.
It is a legal requirement in England and Wales for all properties to be marketed with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which gives your property an energy efficiency rating, and is easily available to attain online.
3. Get your property valued and set an asking price
You may have a fair idea what your house is worth, especially if you only bought it within the past few years, or you might have done a bit of research on what nearby properties have sold for.
However, owing to changes in buying trends, local infrastructure, and what's currently available on the market, your estimate might be some way off.
Setting the right asking price for your home is crucial, so it is extremely important to get your house valued before listing it.
There is also no harm in inviting three estate agents to come and value your house, to get a clearer picture – and use this opportunity to ask them what you could change to increase its value.
When you have a valuation, it is time to set an asking price. An estate agent can advise you, but it should be entirely your own decision.
It can be tempting to go high in the hope that someone will be willing to buy, but setting an unrealistic asking price can put buyers off even viewing a property.
4. Find the right agent, solicitor and conveyancer
It doesn't matter which estate agents you've had valuations from, you can choose to sell with anyone you like.
You may even want to sell privately or at a property auction, but most people do get an estate agent involved to work on their behalf.
It might seem logical to go with the agent that values your property the highest, but that doesn't mean they'll be able to sell it for any higher than the others – the buyer will be the judge of that.
If you can also get a solicitor or conveyancer in place before you accept any offers, that can also help speed things up.
It is important that you find a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to transfer the property to the buyer.
They will provide you with the right paperwork, keep you updated with the progress of the sale, and at the end of the process, they will also exchange the contracts with the buyer.
5. Get your house looking its best
To get your house listed on the main property search websites, you need to be signed up with a recognised estate agent. The estate agent will put together an eye-catching post to go up online or in the local newspaper, and they will want to come round and take some photos.
How your house looks in these images can make the real difference, so it is important that you clean and tidy for the photographer's visit whilst also keeping it looking 'homely'. You want to fire buyers' imaginations.
The same stands for when people want to come to view it. Clear up the clutter to emphasise the space, and spruce up things like the front of the home to give that all-important good first impression.
Make any repairs that you can, give some of your walls a fresh lick of paint if they need it, and if any major work needs doing, it usually makes financial sense to pay for it to be done – it may even improve the value of your property significantly.
And most importantly, clean up! A grubby carpet, dusty surfaces or a lingering odour may be the first thing that a viewer notices, and it could be hard for them to look beyond that.