Property improvements

Property improvements

If you're thinking about selling in the long term, it is worth considering improvements that could help the prospects of making a quick sale. Updating your kitchen or bathroom can be a good move that can help sell and add value to your home. So are adding central heating and loft insulation.

But costly additions like swimming pools may actually hinder the sale - they're a lot of hassle and can put off families with children.

Neat and tidy

In the short term, there are a number of things that can improve your chance of a sale. A tidy front garden and new outside paintwork are small but valuable improvements - remember, first impressions really do count.>

Light and neutral colours inside are good - bear in mind that whereas you might like vibrant colours, they are not to everyone's taste.

Give your home a proper spring clean. Remember - if you do any painting inside your home to wait a few days for the smell to disappear before you put it on the market. Buyers may assume you are trying to hide something under a fresh coat of paint.

Clear out clutter - it may make you feel at home but can put off purchasers. Remember that a light uncluttered room will look larger.

Clear up the garden and get rid of any rubbish. Cutting the grass and trimming hedges and unruly bushes is also recommended.

Obtain a valuation on your property and set your asking price. Before you put up your property for sale and start showing people around, be clear on exactly what is included in the sale price (for instance carpets, white goods etc.). Be prepared to negotiate regarding price, but have a clear "minimum offer" figure in mind.

Alert the public

One of the most common ways of putting your property on the market is to use an estate agent. Either ask friends for personal recommendations or search Fish4's database of estate agents.

Most estate agents operate on a commission basis, charging a percentage of the sale price therefore earning nothing if they fail to sell the property. But if successful, they make quite a lot on each sale since they charge anything between one and three per cent of the price for their efforts.

A few agents charge a flat fee of a few hundred pounds whether they sell the property or not. If they're successful, that's good news for the seller, but if there's no sale it could be a waste of money. The agents, however, can't lose.

Most reputable agents are members of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), and all reputable agents have signed up to the voluntary Estate Agents Ombudsman scheme, which regulates members and levies fines or orders compensation to aggrieved consumers.

There are various options when dealing with an estate agent:

Sole Agency agreement giving one agent the exclusive right to sell your property for an agreed period. Although this is the cheapest option, one drawback is that, if in the end, you sell your property through a private sale, you still have to pay the agent's commission.

Joint Sole Agency agreement where two agents have sole selling rights, but split the commission whichever sells the property. This is more expensive than a sole agency agreement.

Multiple Agency Agreement where several agents have your details. Whichever agent sells your property gets the commission on the sale. The most expensive option.

Going going gone

One other way of selling your property is to put it up at auction. Before the auction takes place, you will have to set a guide price with the auctioneer setting out the minimum price you will accept before the day of the auction. Around one week before the auction, you must set the reserve price - the minimum that you are prepared to accept at auction. This is kept confidential between you and the auctioneer. If the sale is successful, you pay commission to the auctioneer - usually about 2.5 per cent of the sale price.

There are several things to bear in mind when considering selling your property at auction. One is that if the property fails to reach its reserve price, you will have wasted time and have to go through the whole process again. Also both you and the buyer are committed to the sale - and a completion date - once the gavel has fallen.

Accepting an offer for your property

Once you have received and accepted a suitable offer, the process is similar but reversed to when you buy a property. You will need to employ a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to ensure the legal transfer of ownership is completed as quickly and efficiently as possible. The contract is prepared and details of all matters affecting the property in the deeds or on the Land Register are given to the buyer's solicitors. If the buyer is satisfied on all the relevant matters, contracts are exchanged, the transfer deed approved and the sale is completed.

Once you have exchanged contracts you and the buyer are committed to the sale. A completion date will be set and you could end up paying damages if you fail to move out by the agreed date.

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