Selling Your First Home: What to Expect & What Your Need to Know

There are plenty of articles online – many on our own website, in fact – offering advice on buying and moving into your first home. However, it is likely that the time will come when you want to move on. Maybe you need more space or even potentially want to downsize; perhaps you are moving for a new job, to be closer to loved ones or you simply want a change of scene. Whatever the reason, we’re here to offer you some tips to make selling property for the first time more manageable and to help you prepare.

Set Expectations

When it comes to selling a property for the first time, you need to set yourself realistic expectations. You will need enough money to pay off the remainder of your mortgage (if you have one) but this would normally be covered by the sale of your current property. Negative equity is something you need to watch out for. This occurs when a mortgage is higher than the current value of the property, which could be the result of falling property prices or accumulated financial losses over time. You may also be hoping to get some money from this sale that could go towards that, as well as a new property you plan to buy. Take time to look at your finances, to see what you should gain and what you think you will lose in this situation. Getting a valuation should help with this.

Get Your Home Ready for Viewing

Make your house look as appealing as possible before you put it up for sale. You want people to want to buy it, after all:

  • You can freshen up your rooms with a new coat of paint – try to go for light colours like cream or white, which help to make a room appear more spacious as well as brighten it
  • Put some things in storage – you don’t want viewers looking at a cluttered property, as it could make the property look smaller and in worse condition than it actually is
  • Fix any noticeable flaws, such as cracks in the walls or loose floorboards
  • Check plumbing or heating for any serious issues that may need fixing before someone would consider buying it
  • Clean it – you want the property to look and smell nice for any potential viewers
  • If you have pets – particularly cats or dogs – deep clean your carpets in case the potential buyer is allergic to either of these
  • Don’t forget about the exterior of your property – your potential buyers will be getting their first impressions of the property from that, so you want it to look welcoming

Valuations and Choosing Your Estate Agent

You want to make sure that your property is selling for the best price and will be represented well by the estate agent so that you will have multiple buyers interested in it. Research the local estate agencies near you and read their Trustpilot reviews to help you decide.

Additionally, if you know people in the area that you’re moving to, then you may be able to get personal recommendations from them. Once you have selected three or four that you like the look of, get each of them to carry out a valuation on your property (which they should do for free) and find out which one you’re most happy with. Although you should be mindful of costs, if you feel more comfortable with a slightly more expensive agent selling your home than a cheaper one, then consider them to be a worthwhile investment in this process.  

If you are considering getting a property valuation, then you should bear in mind that it would be wise to go with a property surveying company such as ourselves. Professionally trained surveyors will be able to look at and assess your property efficiently, without bias. If you decided to get a valuation from an estate agent, then they may not give you an accurate one, instead valuing it higher in the hopes that you will want to work with them. While this may seem nice in the present moment, it can lead to a lot of disappointment later on. With the right valuation, you can be better prepared in what to expect from your property sale.

Property Viewings

A property viewing is a scheduled appointment with an estate agent, who will take a potential buyer around your property in order to let them see if they like it. Whether or not a buyer likes your property could be affected by multiple reasons, including location, number of rooms and the condition of the property.

Some of these things are in your control, others are not, but you want to make sure that the property is in the best condition for these showings in order for it to make a good impression. The amount of people who want to view your property may vary – if a lot of people want to see it, it may be worth having an open house where different buyers can view it at once.

What If I Don’t Get Any Offers?

It can be disappointing and stressful if you aren’t getting any offers on your property, possibly due to a lack of viewings and especially if you have another property in mind that you wish to buy and move to. There are steps you can take to improve this.

  • Speak with your estate agent – did they get any feedback from previous viewers on why they didn’t want to buy your property? Is it something you can fix for future viewers?
  • Look at the photos your estate agency has on their website for your property – how well are they representing your property? You want it to appear light and spacious. Do you need to tweak some rooms to improve their appearance to this advantage?
  • Is there a virtual house tour available to weed out any time wasters? These have gained popularity since covid, as well as through the rise in popularly of interactive video
  • As much as everyone likes money, look at the current price you’re trying to sell your property for and decide with your agent if this is truly realistic and right amount

Property Surveys and Accepting Offers

The part you have been waiting for has finally come: someone has made an offer that you want to accept. However, this doesn’t mean that the process has quite been completed yet. Your buyer may still want an independent valuation or property survey carried out on the property in order to check it. Don’t be discouraged though – because the buyer wants to make sure that everything is truly right with the property, this suggests that they are serious about buying it.

Additionally, if it is a first-time buyer, you can be quite confident that they are going ahead with the property, as they will have saved for it and imagined exactly what they want for their price, so by saying that they want to go ahead with yours, it is likely that they will stand by this as long as there are no nasty surprises in the meantime from the survey or legal searches. Know and remember that your property will not be legally sold until you have exchanged written contracts with the buyer, which would probably be handled through your solicitors. 

The Property Chain

Although this won’t be your first time on a property chain, it will be your first time as a seller and in a different position. Whereas before you would have had the worries of a buyer on that chain, you will now have some different concerns as the seller. There are several main issues  that you should be aware of as the seller:

  1. Your buyer may change their mind about going ahead with buying the property. This is out of your control, so you can only remain cautious that the buyer may pull out of the purchase and prepare yourself to handle it
  2. Your buyer may have their own chain broken in which case they can’t proceed themselves. This is also out of your control, but you may be able to communicate with the buyer to see if they can resolve this in order to still sell them the property at a later date – if you’re willing to wait for them
  3. If your buyer has a property survey carried out on your property and finds that there are issues with the property, you must decide whether you want to pay to fix the issue yourself or potentially accept a lower offer price from your buyer. Decide what you are most comfortable with, and what the financial implications of either action would be
  4. Finally, there could be legal issues that could lead your buyer to pull out. This would most likely be legal issues with the property itself, such as title deeds and planning permissions. Once you know about these issues, see if these can be legally resolved

Probate

It is a sad situation if your first time selling a property comes from receiving it as probate. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is deeply challenging on its own but selling a property that formerly belonged to someone else can add to that difficulty. Selling a property can take time and may have its own costs, which could add to your personal stresses. In terms of managing the property, there are a few further steps you need to take than you would with a normal property:

  • You need to get an independent RICS property valuation of the property (whether or not you sell it) in order to complete the Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) probate requirements. You must obtain this before you can get a ‘grant of representation’, which means that you would officially own the property
  • Contact a RICS accredited property surveyor and instruct them to carry out a property valuation. For this, you will need to provide them with the name of the deceased owner of the property, the date of their death and proof that the property has been left to you in the deceased’s will. Unlike a normal valuation a probate valuation is the property’s valuation at the date of death and not at the current date value.
  • Once the valuation has been carried out, you will be able to do what you want with the property and money from it

If you are struggling with the death of a loved one during this process, read this from the NHS to find resources to help you manage during this time. Additionally, Cruse are specialists in bereavement support, advice and counselling.

Conclusion

Selling your first property may be a sad time, in that it can be upsetting to leave your first home as an adult where you have your first memories and experiences of independence. However, it should really be an exciting time in your life, as you let go of something big in order to prepare for the future. With these tips at hand, you should be able to go forth and secure your sale confidently. For further advice and information, you can also read some of our previous blogs on selling as listed below.

Further Reading:

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