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Selling Guide

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The Guide to Selling & Buying

We all know that buying or selling house is incredibly stressful, apparently it's up there with divorce and bereavement.

Buying and selling a house isn't a piece of cake, but this twelve point plan should help to make your life easier; we've even included guidelines as to the paperwork which is required.

Before deciding to buy or sell, there's one important factor to consider- MONEY!!! Take a look at the Costs Involved and the Moving Checklist, and if you haven't given up on the idea, carry on with the centralparkestates.co.uk step-by-step guide.

1.    Making & Accepting an Offer

When Selling

bulletSeller finds a buyer
bulletHouse becomes classified as sold - subject to contract

When Buying

bulletBuyer finds a house to purchase.
bulletHouse becomes classified as sold - subject to contract

When you find a buyer or a house to buy, the house will be classified as sold subject to contract.

In a nutshell, this means the house is reserved until the signing and formal exchange of contracts. However, right up until the point contracts are exchanged, the buyer and the seller are quite within their rights to buy or sell another property. This can be frustrating in itself, particularly if the sale falls through several times. At that point some people decide to build an extension on the existing property, or try again in a year or so!

If you find a house to buy before you have sold or the other way round, it's a good idea to find out how long the other person is prepared to wait.

2.    Finding the Documentation


Just a few things to have a think about on the paperwork front (tick box for answer):

Have you changed your name?

Where are the deeds held?

Have you made any alterations or added an extension?

Do you have any guarantees i.e. treatment against woodworm, cavity wall insulation, electrical repairs, double-glazing insulation or any other alterations?

Was your property built under NHBC Buildmark/Zurich Newbuild or Rebuild Schemes?

 Are you selling a leasehold property?

3.    Organising the Survey

When Selling

bulletNothing for the seller to do at this point - so take it easy!

When Buying

bulletBuyer sets-up a mortgage
bulletLender arranges valuation/survey
bulletBuyer organises basic or full structural survey


It's a good idea to organise a survey of the property you intend to buy. A property is sold as seen. In other words the seller will not compensate you at a later stage, for things which you should have known prior to exchange of contracts.

Most of us will purchase with a mortgage from a bank, builder society or whoever (the lender). Even though the lender will arrange their own survey (valuation), it is still important to have your own survey. The money is well spent, although you don't appreciate this at the time! There are two main surveys available:

Homebuyer survey and valuation report - 

bulletIn other words a fairly detailed structural examination, which safeguards against the main structural defects.

Full structural survey - 

bulletThis is really only necessary with pretty old properties and covers a full structural building survey, picking up any major or minor faults.

If money is a bit tight, you can ask the lender to carry out a more detailed survey than the simple valuation.

4.   Prior to Exchanging Contracts

When Selling

Solicitor obtains title deeds and information about property.
Solicitor sends to the buyer's solicitor title deeds etc.
Solicitor organises search of the local authority register.

When Buying

Lender sends formal mortgage offer.
Solicitor checks mortgage details.
Solicitor prepares/approves the mortgages deeds.

It is now time to kick-start the legal work. If you are selling, your solicitor will already have obtained the title deeds to your house and information about your property, including fixtures and fittings.

Now this is where matters can get complicated, so listen carefully!

The seller's solicitor, sends to the buyer's solicitor:

Copies of the title deeds
Property information form (which covers anything that may put you
off buying a property - disputes, rights, guarantees and so on).

The buyer's solicitor then has a good read of the documents mentioned above and then may come back with some questions to "approve" the title and the contract.

Are you still with us?

If a search of the local authority register has not been provided, then this will be organised. The search covers:

New roads
Planning consents
and so on......

Depending on the area, this may also include:

Waterways etc

Once a formal mortgage offer is received from the lender, the buyer's solicitor will check that the details are correct and acceptable to the buyer. He/she will then prepare or approve the mortgage deeds and begin to make any arrangements regarding life policies.

Local Searches

Be prepared, the local authority search does not highlight all the information about neighbouring properties, so it is worth mentioning any worries to the solicitor. Local searches can take forever (anything from a few days to several weeks), so hang on in there. It is a requirement of the mortgage that the local search is carried out.

4.   Signing the Contract (getting there!)

When Selling

Solicitor forwards contract for signature.

When Buying

Solicitor forwards contract for signature.
Solicitor requests contract deposit.
Solicitor prepares report, explaining everything that has been found out about the property.

As the procedure is slightly different for the buyer and the seller, it's time to have a split:

For The Buyer

Having read through the local search and information about the property, the solicitor will ask you to sign the contract and pay the contract deposit. Sometimes a report is prepared explaining everything that has been found out. When reading through the report, have a little think about the following:

Are you getting as much land as you thought?
What fixtures and fittings are included in the price and what is extra?
When do you want to complete?
Do you have all the money to complete the purchase? As you've probably realised by now, this is an expensive business and the fees can soon mount up.

The The Seller

The steps to follow for a seller are so much easier, but you will still need to keep the following in mind:

When do you wish to complete?
Are you prepared to accept a reduced deposit (less than 10% of the sale price)?
Have you enough money to pay off all your existing mortgages?

6.    Exchanging Contracts

When Selling

Solicitor sends signed contract to the buyer's solicitor.
Contracts referred to as exchanged.

When Buying

Solicitor sends signed contract.
Contracts referred to as exchanged.

Just because you've signed the contract, does not mean you are legally bound to buy or sell. This only happens when the contracts are actually exchanged. This is done by post or phone.

The buyer's solicitor sends the signed contract and deposit to the seller's solicitor. On the other side of the fence, the seller's solicitor sends the signed contract to the buyer's solicitor.

This is the point of no return, as once exchange has happened, you will be unable to back out of the transaction and committed to the agreed completion date.

OK, it's all down hill from here on.............

7.    Organising the Deposit

When Selling

Not a lot of do here, so just sit back and take it all in.

When Buying

Solicitor forwards seller a deposit at exchange of contracts.
Deposit is usually 10% of the purchase price.

At exchange of contracts, the buyer is asked to pay the seller a deposit. If the seller is happy to accept a lower figure, then this can be arranged.

Although the idea of a deposit is a bit of pain, it does help to make sure that the buyer will follow through with a purchase after exchange of contracts. If you are selling and buying, you can sometimes use the deposit from your sale as the deposit on your new home.

If the deposit money is simply not available, a short-term loan (bridging loan) might be the best route to take.

8.    Agreeing the Completion Date

When Selling

Solicitor agrees date for completion.

When Buying

Solicitor agrees date for completion.

Before exchange of contracts takes place, the date for completion will be agreed on. This is the date on which you can actually move - at long last!

It will need to be convenient to you and all the others in the chain. The most frustrating thing in the world, is to organise all your personal arrangements and then find out that someone else in the chain is not ready to exchange contracts.

There is absolutely nothing in the world to stop exchange of contracts and completion, happening on the same day. Having said that (as a way of reducing stress), it is a good idea to give yourself ample time between exchange of contracts and completion.

The good news is that your solicitor will arrange the completion date for you, so just let him/her get on with it.

9.       Prior to Completion

When Selling

Just relax!

When Buying

Solicitor finalises conveyancing searches against the new home.
Solicitor prepares outstanding documents.
Solicitor arranges for the mortgage documents to be sent with any mortgage funds.
Solicitor arranges to have the estate agent's account sent through.
Solicitor repays any mortgages on the property.

Between exchange of contracts and the completion date, the buyer's solicitor will:
Finalise conveyancing searches against the new home.
Prepare any outstanding documents and arrange for the mortgage.
Arrange for the necessary mortgage documents to be sent with any mortgage funds.
Arrange to have the estate agent's account sent through.
Repay any mortgages on the property.

In the case of brand new properties, the solicitor will instruct the lender's surveyor to carry out the final inspection to allow mortgage funds to be released. It's always a good idea to make a list of items, which you would like the builder to put right.

The solicitor will arrange for the remaining documents to be signed and check that all life and house insurances are set-up. Finally it's time to arrange for the keys to be released.

10.    Administration Side

When Selling

Seller organises domestic items.

When Buying

Buyer organises domestic items.

We've included a handy checklist, to help with the organisation of all the domestic items. So if you want to reduce the stress levels, this is the place to be.

 Don't book a removal company, until you have a definite moving date (when contracts have been exchanged and a completion date has been set).

11.    Completion

When Selling

Seller drops keys off.

When Buying

Buyer picks up keys.

Completion day has finally arrived - Yippee!!!! It's now time to pick up the keys from the estate agent, seller or representative at the site office.

In the case of selling, it's important not to hand over the keys to the old house, without checking that completion monies have been received with your solicitor/legal representative.

Moving Checklist

By way of getting all those domestic items organised, this checklist will prove invaluable. Print the list out, stick it on the fridge and you're all set.

It’s easy….as you complete each item then place a tick in the box.


 5 Weeks to Go

  Check out the local services and amenities in your new area
  Investigate schools in your new area, including enrolment requirements and transfer of school records
  Start looking at transport in your new area - plan your new route to work  
 4 Weeks to Go  
  Book time off work. If someone is helping you move, make sure they are available on your moving day
  Start clearing up. Give the items you don’t need to a charity shop, or pop along to a car boot sale
  Start collecting packing materials
  Book a removals company
  Arrange insurance for the move
 2 Weeks to Go  
  Inform all the necessary organisations about your change of address to let them know you are moving. Don’t forget to tell the following:
  Local authority
  Electricity and gas supplier
  Satellite/cable television
  Telephone company
  TV licence
  Water company
  DVLA (driving licence)
  Let the post office know you want to redirect the mail
  Start to use up the contents of your freezer
  Organise for someone to look after any children and pets during your move
  Make a plan of your new home; decide which rooms are to be used for what and where the furniture is likely to be placed
  Prepare a list of furniture and other things you will need to buy for your new home
  Start packing - label each box (in theory this makes unpacking easier)
 1 Week to Go  
  Arrange for the final bills to be paid
  Have the meters read and pay any outstanding amounts
  Confirm arrangements with utility companies
  Cancel any regular deliveries, for example, newspapers or milk
  Return any library books
  Arrange the day for exchange of keys
  Give a plan of the new property to the removal company
  Start cleaning the house
  Send change of address cards to family and friends
 1 Day to Go  
  Finish packing everything, excluding items needed for the night and journey
  Defrost the fridge and freezer
  Finish cleaning the house
  Dismantle large furniture if possible, to make it easier to move
  Make sure there’s enough petrol for the journey
  Ensure valuables and important documents are kept together and keep them with you for the journey
  Take down any curtains, mirrors or lamp shades you are planning to take
  Make sure all the cupboards and drawers are empty
 Moving Day  
  Disconnect any remaining appliances
  Walk through the house to check everything before the van leaves
  Ensure all doors and windows are shut
  Pick up the new keys and deliver your old ones as arranged
  Make sure the removal company knows how to reach your new address, give them a contact number
  Try to arrive at your new address before the removal van and check over the house
  Check that everything has been delivered
  Read the meters in your new home
  Check that your phone, gas and electricity are working
  Make the bedrooms fit for sleeping – it’s a tiring business moving house!
  Uncork a bottle of champagne and celebrate in style

Cost Involved

There’s no getting away from it, house buying costs money. Without looking at removal expenses, new fixtures and so on, the ‘compulsory’ fees soon add up.

Before contracts are exchanged on your purchase, you should make sure that you have enough money to complete the deal. Have a think about the following essentials:
Purchase price, or if you are taking out a mortgage, the difference between the purchase price and the mortgage.
Money to cover any retention or deductions made from your mortgage.
Cost of the valuation report, prepared by the lender.
Cost of any fixtures and fittings for which you have agreed to pay extra.
Survey for the property (various price ranges available).
Stamp duty and land registry fees to register your ownership of the property.
Other financial considerations include:
Hiring a removal firm.
Redirecting the mail.
Taking a homebuyer’s insurance policy, which covers against legal costs, should post-purchase disputes crop up.
Mortgage payment protection, to cover the monthly payments for a set period, should you become too ill to work or suddenly lose your job.
That’s all very well, but what about some real costs ? centralparkestates can help you there.

The following costs are based on Mr. & Mrs. Average, purchasing a £100,000 house – be prepared the total can be quite frightening!

Real Costs




Lender’s valuation



Solicitors’ fees



Home buyer’s survey/full structural survey



Land Registry fee*



Local authority search



Stamp duty*



Redirecting your mail



Sub Total (excluding VAT)






Grand Total


* Exempt from VAT

Notes: In Scotland the Registry fee comes out at £220. The home buyer’s survey assumes a basic one. A full structural survey would cost nearer to £750.




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Last modified: November 23, 2002