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Thinking of selling your first home? Here's a handy 9-point guide to ease the stress

Selling a house can be a daunting task, especially if you are doing it for the first time.

There are so many aspects to consider, many people feel overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done – from instructing agents and solicitors to getting all those niggly repairs completed before putting your home on the market.

Some 1.23 million dwellings changed hands last year – slightly up on 2015 – and a similar number is expected to be completed this year.

There are a number of new online ‘challenger’ agents that undercut regular high street agents on fees and also quick sale ‘cash buyer’ websites – but many of these offer prices well below full market values.

Elliot Castle, who established seven years ago, has put together a nine-point plan for first-time sellers to help make the process a little less stressful.

Instruct an agent/company
The first step is to decide how you are going to sell your property, the options are: through a high street estate agency, an online estate agent, by yourself or through a quick-sell provider. What avenue you go down is dependent on you and your situation. If you decide to go through an estate agent it is important you trust the agent you are instructing and they have good reviews, as the process of selling your house can be long and drawn out so you want to make sure you have an agent you get on well with.

Set your sale price
In order to sell your home, you will need to get your property valued in order to set a sale price. This can be done through a local estate agent or online valuation company. A valuation will give you a guide and recommended price, but ultimately it is your decision. It’s always important to remember to keep stamp duty brackets in mind, the buyer will be taking this into account and ultimately, they will want to be in the lower brackets. It is also good to go higher than the minimum amount you a willing to sell for to give yourself a buffer for lower offers.

Get your home ready
If viewings are taking place on your property it is sensible to spruce up your house and make sure it’s always looking its best. If you can, it is beneficial to give your house a fresh coat of paint, or patch up any marks on the wall – it goes a long way! Light and neutral colours are known to attract prospective buyers, as well as lots of natural light, so make sure to keep the windows clear of furniture and open the blinds and curtains. Mirrors are also a great way to make rooms look more spacious.

Choose a solicitor
Solicitors are expensive but are vital for the selling process to register the buyer as the new legal owners. Their experience in buying and selling property is invaluable and can take away a lot of stress and pressure for someone who has never been through the process before.

Wait for an offer
The conventional selling process through estate agents is very much a waiting game!  While you may have initial interest, offers can easily fall through so it’s wise to try not to get too excited when you receive an offer as there is still a long process that follows and until you exchange, you’ll never really know if the sale is going to go ahead until exchange.

Negotiate the contract
Once you have received an offer you’ll need to work with your solicitor to decide all the finer details, everything from what fixtures and fittings will be included in the sale to how long will be allowed between exchange and completion. No doubt the buyer will have some queries regarding the sale and the property which can take a long time to overcome.

An exchange is when the final contracts are signed and exchanged between acting legal parties. It also means that is the buyer pulls out they will lose their deposit, as will you if you do the same.

During the exchange you would of agreed a completion date – that is when the ownership of the property officially changes hands. Your solicitor will register the transfer of ownership with the land registry and the monies and deed will be transferred by each party’s solicitor. You will need to be packed up and moved out by the completion date.

Pay off the final monies
Once the buyer has transferred the money to your solicitor, you can then pay off your mortgage. This is the final phase of the process and following this aspect being completed, your solicitor will also inform you of their costs for their services.