How to sell your house – a step by step guide

fa-homeowners ["Homeowners"]
Man packing

If you’re thinking of selling your house but you’re not sure where to start, then this guide is for you. It can feel like a daunting task so we’ve broken down the steps to selling a house to make it more manageable; from making the decision to sell in the first place, all the way through to completing the sale and moving out. If you need further help, we recommend you speak to a professional for advice, such as an estate agent, mortgage broker or solicitor, depending on what you need.


Should I sell my house?

Choosing whether or not to sell your house is a big decision. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before putting your house on the market.

How much is my house worth?

Getting an idea of how much your house is worth lets you work out how much equity (that’s the value of your house minus your mortgage) you have, which you can use to buy your next home. If you haven’t moved for a long time, you could be pleasantly surprised by how much the value has increased.

You can get an idea by looking online at the recent sold prices of houses in your area. There are many different websites you can use such as Rightmove and Zoopla.

Use our calculators to find out how much you could borrow from us and how much your repayments might be on the next home.

What’s the cost of selling a house?

The cost of selling a house will vary depending on your circumstances. As a minimum, you’ll need to pay estate agent and solicitors fees. You may decide to make some updates to your home to help it sell and then there are the costs of moving to your new house too.

What are my current mortgage terms?

If you have a fixed rate mortgage, you may have to pay Early Repayment Charges (ERCs) if you want to end it early. Check your paperwork to find out what these are so you can factor these into your costs. Another option, depending on your mortgage deal, is to take your mortgage rate with you to the next property, known as porting.

What are my other options?

If you’re thinking of moving because you need more space, you could consider extending your current home instead. It may be cheaper than moving and could add value to your property for when you move in the future. Read our ‘How to plan an extension guide’ to see if it could work for you.

If you definitely want to move out of your home, another option could be to rent it out, rather than sell. It gives you the flexibility to move back in if you wanted to, and means the tenants can help to pay off the mortgage for you. Although many people will need to sell in order to afford the next property. If you are considering renting out your home, make sure you speak to your mortgage provider first.

If you’re an existing YBS mortgage customer, here are some things you need to know if you’re considering renting out your home.

When is the best time to sell my house?

The first step to selling your house is deciding when to do it. The time of year you put your house up for sale can have an influence on how long it takes to sell. Spring is often a popular time as people look for a fresh start after Christmas and New Year and the weather starts to improve.

That doesn’t mean it won’t sell at other times of year, but there may be less people looking to buy so it could take a little longer or you may need to be more flexible with the asking price.


Choosing an estate agent

The next step is choosing an estate agent to sell your home. There are broadly 2 types of estate agent, the traditional high street agent and online estate agents. Online agents tend to have a cheaper package but then extra services are charged on top. Consider getting 3 agents to value the property and give you a quote for their services so you can compare the results.

The fees and services can differ a lot between agents so make sure you find out exactly what is included. For example:

Don’t be afraid to haggle on the fees. It’s a competitive market so you could get a good deal.

It is possible to sell your house yourself and not use an estate agent. You would save the fees; however, you’d have to do the marketing, viewings and managing of the sale yourself. Another thing to consider is that you can’t put a private listing on the big property portals, so not as many people will see it and you may get fewer offers.

  • Do they do virtual tours and viewings?
  • Which property portals do they use (e.g. Rightmove, Zoopla)?
  • Is it a sole contract or can you advertise with multiple agents at the same time?
  • Have they sold similar properties in the area?
  • Is there an exit fee if you change your mind?

Don’t be afraid to haggle on the fees. It’s a competitive market so you could get a good deal.

It is possible to sell your house yourself and not use an estate agent. You would save the fees; however, you’d have to do the marketing, viewings and managing of the sale yourself. Another thing to consider is that you can’t put a private listing on the big property portals, so not as many people will see it and you may get fewer offers.


Get your EPC and other paperwork ready

You can’t market your property unless you have a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). They last 10 years so you may already have one. If not, you’ll need to arrange one yourself, or through your estate agent. You can find out more on the government website.

It’s also a good time to get other documents prepared for later down the line e.g. property title deeds, and if you’ve made any home improvements you’ll need the certificates for the building regulations, planning permission, electrics etc.


Getting your house ready to sell

If you want to sell your house quickly and for the best price, you need to make it look as good as possible. Get the basic repair jobs done first such as fixing a dripping tap, filling any cracks, touching up paintwork and replacing mouldy sealant in the bathroom. Then declutter to give a sense of space and have a deep clean. That way you’ll have enticing photos to draw potential buyers in, and you just need to keep on top of it between viewings.

For more tips, check out our guide on getting your home ready to sell.


Hire a solicitor or conveyancer

You’ll need a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to deal with the legal transfer of your property. Give yourself time to shop around and find a good one as they will be integral to the smooth running of the sale. Ask friends and family for a recommendation and get 3 quotes to compare costs.

If you need a solicitor, the Yorkshire Building Society Conveyancing Service could help you find one.

Accept an offer

Hopefully, it won’t be long until someone falls in love with your home and makes you an offer. If you have several buyers interested, as well as the amount they offer, you might want to compare what position they’re in. For example, a cash buyer with no chain is likely to complete faster than those that need a mortgage and are in a chain.


Exchange & complete

It can take a couple of months between accepting an offer and exchanging contracts. The exchange of contracts is legally binding and means neither party can back out. During this time, make sure you fill out all your paperwork promptly and keep in touch with your conveyancer to keep things moving. Once exchanged, you can negotiate the completion date when you hand over the keys.


Moving out

The last step to selling your house is moving day. It’s never too soon to start preparing for your move and getting things in order. On the lead up to the big day you can:

Declutter – the less clutter, the less there is to move. And if you sell your unwanted belongings you could raise some cash to help towards the move.
Hire the movers or your own van if you need to. Bear in mind, the completion date can change at the last minute though.
Gather boxes, bubble wrap and packing tape. Moving supplies can be surprisingly expensive so ask around for free boxes from friends or local online sites such as Make sure you clearly label each box with the room it belongs in which will help when you come to unpack
Keep your moving day essentials handy so you’re not searching all over when you need a cup of tea, or screwdriver e.g. kettle, tea, mugs, toilet roll, cleaning products, bin bag, phone charger and tool box

On moving day, don’t forget to:​​​​​​

Thoroughly check you’ve got everything. Search the top of the cupboards, the back of drawers and behind the shed
Take meter readings so you can close your account with your old utility providers
Make sure you hand over all your keys, including the windows, the shed and any copies
Leave the house clean for your buyers
Make a note of useful information for your buyers such as when bin day is or instructions for the boiler
You may also be interested in ‘Mortgages and moving during coronavirus