Instructing an Estate Agent and Solicitor Always try to get 3 agents round to value your property. Don’t necessarily go for the one with the highest valuation, or the one that you may also buy through – this is an old trick used to win instructions. Many agents will also often try to tie you into a 12-week exclusive contract – negotiate the minimum time possible, so that if you are not happy with the service, you can change or go multi-agency. You’ll want someone you can relate to personally; someone who is very active in the local market; and someone who is keen to sell your property and has fair agreement. Preparation is key, so it’s a good idea to instruct a solicitor to do your conveyancing early. Ask them to prepare a draft contract and apply for the title deeds, while you pull together all your own paperwork on the property – that is, all building certificates for any structural building work carried out, and any valid work guarantees for word worm, damp, etc. Costs Given Estate Agents’ fees, it’s cheaper to sell sole-agency rather than multi-agency, so I recommend staying with one agent for the first 4 weeks, and giving them the best chance and motivation to sell your property fast. Always try to negotiate on agents’ fees, and ensure you have the final fee agreed in writing. Also, ask your solicitor to fully explain all costs associated with selling. Finally, find out from your mortgage lender whether you will be hit with any redemption penalties. Then you’ll know at what price you can afford to sell. Valuation and Selling Prices Valuing property is not an exact science and many factors are taken into consideration. Agents don’t charge for valuations, so try to get 3 as a minimum. By using a tool such as a Property Report you will have a headstart on establishing the right price for your property. Take your report along to your chosen Estate Agent, and you should then be able to agree a realistic price for your property based on your report together with the agent’s comparables. Get the Word Out Always have a board up, and tell your neighbours – word of mouth is a powerful tool. You never know who might live just round the corner, waiting for your house to come to the market. Preparing for Viewings Everyone knows that first impressions count, and you’ll want the house to appeal to as many people as possible; the more people there are who like the property, the higher the selling price should be. So sweep up, and make sure the front yard and hall to your house are tidy and inviting. Leave the pets with a neighbour, and thoroughly clean up any cat hair in particular, as many people are allergic to animal hair. Turn the lights and heating on; air out the house; and don’t smoke or cook a curry before viewings. If you’ve got parking, leave the space free for the buyer – this will add to the whole experience. Showing a Property You’ll probably be paying an agent to do this; they know their job, so I always recommend that property owners go out during viewings. If you must show your property yourself, then decide beforehand what order you will show the rooms, and guide viewers around the property once, showing the best rooms first or last. Don’t overload them with detail, such as the size of your boiler or the trouble with the neighbour’s cat. Be business-like during the first viewing; if someone is interested, you can always get to know them a little more on the second viewing. Never point out problems or issues, but do feel free to highlight the odd positive point, like a south-facing garden, or very convenient parking. Finally, invite viewers to take another tour round the property on their own… but don’t go off and make a phone call – be somewhere nearby, on hand to answer queries.