All you need to know if you’ve yet to put a home on the market

First appearances can be critical to selling a property quickly and profitably. 'Illustration: PA
First appearances can be critical to selling a property quickly and profitably. 'Illustration: PA
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For first-time buyers, getting on the property ladder can be a steep learning curve. But what if you’ve already bought your first home and you’re now looking to sell for the first time?

Just like buying a first home, the experience of being a first-time seller can also have its unexpected twists and turns.

As the housing market prepares for the autumn selling season to get under way, we asked Sam Mitchell, chief executive of online estate agent Housesimple (housesimple.com), for tips on the common questions first-time sellers may have.

Is there a ‘best time’ to put my property on the market?

There are certain times that you might want to avoid if you can, like the festive period and summer, when there can be a dip in activity with school holidays. However, in this digital world it’s not only about what season you sell in but also what day of the week and even what time you list your property. Housesimple suggests those who launch their property on a Sunday evening when the portal traffic is at its peak may receive a particularly good response.

Should I wait to sell my current property before I look to buy?

Many sellers won’t even consider a buyer’s offer unless they are in a position to go ahead. Consider whether you have the cash to buy if your current property doesn’t fly off the shelf. If you are in a comfortable position to cover the deposit on your new home, you may want to look now to allow you to move quickly the moment your home sale is agreed. If you receive an offer on your property but haven’t found a house yet, there may be options such as renting for a while.

Are there any renovations to prioritise which might increase the value of my property?

From installing real wood flooring, to investing in high-end work surfaces or timeless colours and fabrics, interior updates can transform your home to give it the greatest impact when you sell. A recent survey by Housesimple found buyers put the importance of a good living room above that of either the kitchen or bathroom. The top priority for 27 per cent of buyers was the amount of storage – so consider how you can make the most of your storage space and show off your living room in its best light with a fresh lick of paint.

Also think about first impressions. If you live in a house, think about repainting fences, mowing the lawn, planting some bright flowers, emptying bins, and giving your drive a hose down.

What do I need to do before a home viewing?

A little staging can make a huge difference, so clear out the clutter and leave room for the buyer to imagine their life there. If you’re going to be present at your home viewings, make sure you are prepared to answer any questions that may arise. Strike a balance between being friendly and over-sociable.

How much is it going to cost me to sell?

Apart from comparing estate agents’ fees, make sure you understand any penalties if selling your home means repaying your mortgage early. Each lender has a different way of calculating the early repayment charges (ERCs) but they will often amount to a percentage of what you repay during the fixed-rate period. Factor in removal costs too – whether you want a firm to pack and move for you, or you want to hire a van and do it yourself.

How do I decide what an acceptable offer would be?

Find out how much similar properties in your area have sold for and look at what’s currently on the market. It is important to understand your competition. The quality of any offer is also important. For example: Have they sold? Can they move quickly? What are their timeframes? Consider whether the answers to these questions align with your own moving plans.